Ancient Churches of Ethiopia

David W. Phillipson

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The kings of Aksum formally became Christian during the second quarter of the 4th century, making Ethiopia the second country in the world (after Armenia) officially to adopt the new faith. This landmark book is the first to integrate historical, archaeological, and art-historical evidence to provide a comprehensive account of Ethiopian Christian civilization and its churches—both built and rock-hewn—from the Aksumite period to the 13th century.


David W. Phillipson, a foremost authority on Ethiopia’s archaeology, situates these churches within the development of Ethiopian society, illuminating the exceptional continuity of the country’s Christian civilization. He offers a fresh view of the processes which gave rise to this unique African culture as well as the most detailed treatment of the rock-hewn churches at Lalibela World Heritage Site ever published. Abundantly illustrated, filled with original insights, and incorporating new chronological findings, this book will be of enormous interest to a wide international circle of students, scholars, and travelers.

David W. Phillipson is Emeritus Professor of African Archaeology, University of Cambridge.

‘This excellent book ought to act as a springboard to a more focused buildings archaeology approach to these diverse and distinctive structures.’ — Niall Finneran, Azania

‘[Philipson] has committed to this book a vast amount of learning and a lifetime’s passion for the archaeology of the ancient churches of the Tigre and Amhara regions of Ethiopia…This indispensable resource will be the standard reference work for the foreseeable future.’ — David Stancliffe, Art and Christianity

'A gorgeously produced volume, lavishly illustrated with outstandingly beautiful colour photographs.' — Emma Loosley, Journal Of American Archaeology Vol 8 (1)
ISBN: 9780300141566
Publication Date: July 14, 2009
288 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
224 b/w; 50 color