Archaeology of the Jesuit Missions of Ethiopia

  • Víctor M. FernándezEmail author
Living reference work entry


Catholic Jesuit missionaries, from Portugal, Spain, and Italy, were active in the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia, known then in Europe as the kingdom of Prester John, since 1557 until their expulsion in 1632–1633. They erected their first churches and buildings early during the mission, using local techniques with dry stone, stone and mud, and perishable materials. After 1622, when king Susenyos was converted to the Catholic faith, they began a vast program of architectonic constructions, which reached its apex after the introduction, in 1624, of the lime mortar technique. The many structures made thereafter, with stone and mortar, though most of them heavily ruined, have remained until today.

According to the missionary record, the Jesuits established 19 residences in Ethiopia, although only 14 of them were inhabited for a consistent period of time. In at least ten residences, with the help of foreign and local masons and within a short span of time (1624–1632), they...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dpto. Prehistoria, Historia Antigua y ArqueologíaUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain

Section editors and affiliations

  • Patricia Fournier
    • 1
  1. 1.Posgrado en ArqueologíaEscuela Nacional de Antropología e HistoriaMéxicoMexico