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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ethiopia's Lalibäla and the Fall of Jerusalem 1187
Author:Donzel, Emeri vanISNI
Periodical:Aethiopica: International Journal of Ethiopian Studies
Geographic term:Ethiopia
Subjects:Ethiopian Church
political change
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://doi.org/10.15460/aethiopica.1.1.649
Abstract:It has been a long-standing tradition in Ethiopia that the churches at Lalibäla - formerly Roha, but renamed after the most renowned king of the Zague dynasty, Lalibäla - in the Ethiopian province of Lasta were built in the period of the Zague to create a new Jerusalem after the Holy City had fallen to the Muslims in 1187. The author doubts whether the reason for undertaking this enterprise was indeed the fall of Jerusalem. He examines this question against the background of the political and religious situation in 12th and 13th-century Ethiopia, and its relations with the outer Muslim powers, Saladin in particular. Although there is no conclusive proof that the fall of Jerusalem in 1187 was not the main reason for constructing the churches at Lalibäla, there seem to be enough indications that the incentive for the enterprise is to be looked for in the internal politics of Ethiopia at the turn of the 13th century. It does not seem farfetched, either from a political or a religious point of view, that the churches at Lalibäla were constructed not to replace those of Jerusalem, but to make Roha into a new capital to replace Aksum. Furthermore, Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem did not lead to increased enmity between the champion of Islam and the Oriental Christians, which also corroborates the view that the primary reason for the construction of the Lalibäla churches is to be found inside Ethiopia. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]