A number of factors contributed to the gradual impoverishment and decline of the Aksumite kingdom. The Arab expansion into Northern Africa cut off the kingdom’s access to the Red-Sea waterway (and to the markets which could be reached through it and on which a large part of the kingdom’s prosperity had been based). There is also evidence to suggest that some of the kingdom’s natural resources, such as gold and ivory, had been depleted. Very little is known about this phase of Ethiopian history and scholars even disagree on the dates of its beginning and end.
Choosing what to do in the last few days of the year might be difficult because there is so much we want to get done this year. Being physically active and healthy is always at the top of our lists of things to do, regardless of what we have planned for New Year’s Eve. If you worked hard in 2019 to develop healthy habits but soon fell off the wagon, let’s try to end this year on the best possible note. We all know how important it is to regularly include fruits and vegetables in our diets, but in the hustle and bustle of the day, we frequently forget and choose fast food.
Lalibela includes twelve buildings destined for worship which, together with a network of linking corridors and chambers, are entirely carved or “hewn” out of living rock. The tradition of hewing churches out of rock, already attested in the previous periods, is here taken to a whole new level. The churches, several of which are free-standing, such as Bete Gyorgis (Church of St. George, image at top of page), have more elaborate and well-defined façades. They include architectural elements inspired by buildings from the Aksumite Period. Furthermore, some, such as Bete Maryam, feature exquisite internal decorations (above), which are also carved out of the rock, as well as wall paintings. The interiors of the churches blend Aksumite elements with more recent elements of Copto-Arabic derivation. In Bete Maryam, for example, the architectural elements—such as the hewn capitals and window frames—imitate Aksumite models (see below), whereas the paintings can be compared with those in the medieval Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea.