The Zagwe Dynasty (1137-1270)

Posted: May 25, 2016 in Ethiopia - the Secret of Africa
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In the early 12th century, a new capital was established under a new power: the Zagwe Dynasty. Its capital was Adafa, based in the mountains not far from Lalibela.

This period is somewhat obscure: there are no chronicles written and no accounts of the dynasty by foreign travellers have survived. Very little evidence remains. The dynasty is traditionally even treated as a kind of embarrassment in Ethiopian history, since the Zagwes were seen as the usurpers of power from the Aksumite rulers.

Nevertheless, the period is an extremely important one in the cultural history of Ethiopia, because during the reign of three of its kings: Yemrehanna Kristos, Lalibela and Na’akuto La’ab, the astonishing rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were constructed.

And it is very well known that these churches are one of Ethiopia’s top attractions today.

In 1270 the dynasty was overthrown, probably due to a combination of infighting within the dynasty as well as strong opposition form the church.


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