Advertisement

African Archaeological Review

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 291–303 | Cite as

Capra nubiana in Berbere Sauce?

Pre-Aksumite Art and Identity Building
  • Andrea ManzoEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

Several sites dating to the first half of the first millennium bc in Tigray and Eritrea are characterised by the occurrence of South Arabian elements mainly evident in monumental architecture, sculpture and inscriptions. The indisputable presence of such features was at first regarded as proof of a Sabaean colonisation of the region and was also cited to explain the origin of some Semitic languages spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Investigations conducted in the 1960s and 1970s showed that the South Arabian features should be regarded as status-markers of the elite; the contemporaneous presence of elements representing the culture of the indigenous population was also stressed. In this paper, some artworks of this date will be reconsidered. It will be suggested that they are characterised by a conscious use of exogenous elements of different origins (not just Sabaean, not just South Arabian) assembled in a local and original syntax and expressing local social and symbolic messages related to the emphasis of state or group identity. Finally, a new assessment of the art will be attempted following this approach, with a tentative explanation for its rise and development.

Keywords

Pre-Aksumite Art Identity, northern Horn of Africa South Arabia Nubia 

Résumé

Plusieurs sites datant de la première moitié du premier millénaire av. J.-C. au Tigray et en Erythrée sont caractérisés par des éléments sud-arabiques très évidents dans l’architecture monumentale, la sculpture, et dans les inscriptions. Ces éléments ont été considérés comme les preuves tangibles d’une colonisation sabéenne qui pourrait expliquer l’origine des langues sémitiques parlées en Ethiopie et en Erythrée aujourd’hui. Des recherches menées dans les années soixante et soixante-dix ont montré que les éléments sudarabiques démarquaient plutôt le rang et statut social de l’élite, tout en soulignant le caractére local des elements représentant la culture des populations indigènes. Cet article se propose de ré-examiner le travail artistique et certain objets d’art de cette période. On montrera qu’ils sont caractérisées par un usage conscient d’éléments exotiques divers (pas seulement sabéens, ni sud-arabiques) intégrés dans une syntaxe locale originale, qui exprime des messages sociaux et symboliques locaux associés à la création d’une identité étatique. Enfin, sur la base de cette approche identitaire, on proposera une nouvelle interpretation de l’art de cette période, et une explication de ses origines et développement.

References

  1. Anfray, F. (1974). Deux villes axoumites: Adoulis et Matara. vol. 1. In: IV Congresso Internazionale di Studi Etiopici (pp. 745–765). Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.Google Scholar
  2. Anfray, F. (1990). Les anciens éthiopiens. Paris: Colin.Google Scholar
  3. Anfray, F. (1991). Introduction. In E. Bernand, A. J. Drewes & R. Schneider (Eds.), Recueil des Inscriptions de l’Ethiopie des périodes pré-axoumite et axoumite (pp. 19–59). Paris: Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  4. Antonini, S. 1997. Les images: dieux, hommes et animaux. In: Yémen: au pays de la reine de Saba (pp. 150–164). Paris: Institut du Monde Arabe.Google Scholar
  5. Antonini, S. (2001). La statuaria sudarabica in pietra (Repertorio Iconografico Sudarabico 1). Paris-Rome: Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres & Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente.Google Scholar
  6. Antonini, S. (2004). I motivi figurativi delle Banāt cĀd nei templi sudarabici (Repertorio Iconografico Sudarabico 2). Paris–Rome: Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres & Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente.Google Scholar
  7. Avanzini, A. (2000). Il ruolo della donna nell’Arabia meridionale pre-islamica. In: Yemen: nel aese della regina di Saba (pp. 207–208). Milano: Fondazione Memmo.Google Scholar
  8. Baines, J. (1990). Restricted knowledge, hierarchy, and decorum: modern perceptions and ancient institutions. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, 27, 1–23.Google Scholar
  9. Beeston, A. F. L. (1948). The ritual hunt: a study in old South Arabian religion. Le Muséon, 61, 183–196.Google Scholar
  10. Bernand, E., Drewes, A. J., & Schneider, R. (1991–2000). Receuil des inscriptions de l’Éthiopie des périodes pré-axoumite et axoumite. Paris: Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  11. Boardman, S. (2000). Contributions on archaeobotany. In: D. W. Phillipson (Ed.), Archaeology at Aksum, Ethiopia, 1973-1977 (pp. 268–70, 363–8, 412–14). London: British Institute in Eastern Africa and Society of Antiquaries.Google Scholar
  12. Bonnet, C. (1997). The Kingdom of Kerma. In D. Wildung (Ed.), Sudan: ancient kingdoms of the Nile (pp. 88–116). Paris: Institut du Monde Arabe.Google Scholar
  13. Breton, J.-F. (1997). Nashshân. In: Yémen: au pays de la reine de Saba (pp. 136-137). Paris : Institut du Monde Arabe.Google Scholar
  14. Cain, R. C. (2000). Contributions on archaeozoology. In: D. W. Phillipson (Ed.). Archaeology at Aksum, Ethiopia, 1993–19977 (pp. 218, 369–72, 414–417, 510–511). London: British Institute in Eastern Africa and Society of Antiquaries.Google Scholar
  15. Conti Rossini, C. (1928). Storia d’Etiopia. Bergamo: Istituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche.Google Scholar
  16. Costa, P. M. (1991). South Arabian jar sealings. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 21, 41–48.Google Scholar
  17. Curtis, M. C. (2008). New perspectives for examining change and complexity in the northern Horn of Africa during the first millennium BCE. In P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis & Z. Teka (Eds.), The archaeology of ancient Eritrea (pp. 329–348). Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press.Google Scholar
  18. Curtis, M. C. (2009). Relating the Ancient Ona culture to the wider northern Horn: discerning patterns and problems in the archaeology of the first millennium bc. African Archaeological Review, 26, 327–350.Google Scholar
  19. D’Andrea, A. C., Manzo, A., Harrower, M. J., & Hawkins, A. (2008a). The Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite settlement of northeast Tigray, Ethiopia. Journal of Field Archaeology, 33, 151–176.Google Scholar
  20. D’Andrea, C. A., Schmidt, P. R., & Curtis, M. C. (2008b). Paleoethnobotanical analysis and agricultural economy at early first millennium bcb sites around Asmara. In P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis & Z. Teka (Eds.), The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea (pp. 207–216). Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press.Google Scholar
  21. de Contenson, H. (1962). Les monuments d'art sud-arabes découverts sur le site de Haoulti (Éthiopie) en 1959. Syria, 39, 64–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. de Contenson, H. (1963). Les fouilles à Haoulti en 1959—rapport préliminaire. Annales d’Éthiopie, 5, 41–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Drewes, A. J. (1962). Inscriptions de l’Éthiopie antique. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  24. Fattovich, R. (1977). Pre-Aksumite civilization of Ethiopia: a provisional review. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 7, 73–78.Google Scholar
  25. Fattovich, R. (1980). Materiali per lo studio della ceramica pre-Aksumita Etiopica. Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale.Google Scholar
  26. Fattovich, R. (1982). The problem of Sudanese–Ethiopian contacts in antiquity: status quaestionis and current trends of research. In J. M. Plumley (Ed.), Nubian studies (proceedings of the symposium for Nubian studies, Cambridge 1970) (pp. 76–89). Warminster: Aris & Phillips.Google Scholar
  27. Fattovich, R. (1990). Remarks on the Pre-Aksumite period in northern Ethiopia. Journal of Ethiopian Studies, 23, 1–33.Google Scholar
  28. Fattovich, R. (2009). Reconsidering Yeha, c. 800–400 bc. African Archaeological Review, 26, 275–290. doi: 10.1007/s10437-009-9063-3.
  29. Glaser, E. (1895). Die Abesseiner in Arabien und Afrika. Munich: Lukaschik.Google Scholar
  30. Jones, S. (1997). The archaeology of ethnicity: constructing identities in the past and present. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Kemp, B. J. (2006). Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a civilization. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Kendall, T. (1988). Ethnoarchaeology in Meroitic studies. In S. Donadoni & S. Wenig (Eds.), Studia Meroitica 1984. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference for Meroitic Studies (pp. 625–745). Berlin: Akademie-Verlag (Meroitica 10).Google Scholar
  33. Lyons, D. (2007). Integrating African cuisines: rural cuisine and identity in Tigray, highland Ethiopia. Journal of Social Archaeology, 7, 346–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lyons, D., & D'Andrea, A. C. (2003). Griddles, ovens, and agricultural origins: an ethnoarchaeological study of bread-baking in highland Ethiopia. American Anthropologist, 105, 515–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Manzo, A. (1994). Riflessioni sulle sfingi etiopiche ed il loro significato culturale. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici, 38, 117–138.Google Scholar
  36. Manzo, A. (1999). Doccioni con decorazione a protone leonina nell’Etiopia antica. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici, 43, 113–131.Google Scholar
  37. Manzo, A. (2002). Note su alcuni oggetti sudarabici rinvenuti in Etiopia. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici (n.s.), 1, 45–61.Google Scholar
  38. Müller, W. (1997). La religion. In: Yémen: au pays de la reine de Saba (pp. 121-129). Paris: Institut du Monde Arabe.Google Scholar
  39. Paribeni, R. (1907). Ricerche nel luogo dell’antica Adulis. Monumenti Antichi, 18, 437–572.Google Scholar
  40. Phillips, J. S. (1995). Egyptian and Nubian material from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Sudan Archaeological Research Society Newsletter, 9, 2–10.Google Scholar
  41. Phillipson, D. W. (2009). The first millennium bc in the highlands of northern Ethiopia and south–central Eritrea: a re-assessment of cultural and political development. African Archaeological Review, 26, 257–274. doi: 10.1007/s10437-009-9064-2.
  42. Pirenne, J. (1965). Sabea d’Etiopia, arte. In: Enciclopedia dell’Arte Antica e Orientale, VI (pp. 1044–1048). Rome: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana.Google Scholar
  43. Pirenne, J. (1967). Haoulti et ses monuments: nouvelle interprétation. Annales d’Éthiopie, 7, 125–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pirenne, J. (1989). Des Grecs à l’aube de la culture monumentale sabéenne. In T. Fahd (Ed.), L’Arabie préislamique et son environnement historique et culturel (pp. 257–269). Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  45. Ricci, L. (1984). L'expansion de l'Arabie Meridionale. In S. Chelod (Ed.), L'Arabie du Sud: histoire et civilisation (Vol. 1, pp. 249–257). Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose.Google Scholar
  46. Robin, C., & de Maigret, A. (1998). Le grand temple de Yéha (Tigray, Éthiopie) après la première campagne de fouilles de la mission française (1998). Comptes-rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1998, 737–798.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schmidt, P. R. (2009). How variations in Eritrea shape the archaeology of the northern Horn during the first millennium bc. African Archaeological Review, 26, 305–325. doi: 10.1007/s10437-009-9061-5.
  48. Schneider, R. (1973). Deux inscriptions sudarabiques du Tigré. Bibliotheca Orientalis, 30, 385–389.Google Scholar
  49. Schneider, R. (1976). Documents épigraphiques de l’Éthiopie—V. Annales d’Éthiopie, 10, 81–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Vogt, B. (1997). Marib: capitale de Saba. In: Yémen: au pays de la reine de Saba (pp. 107-109). Paris : Institut du Monde Arabe.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Studi e Ricerche su Africa e Paesi ArabiUniversità degli Studi di NapoliNaplesItaly

Personalised recommendations