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HIST3236 Ethiopia: The East African Empire to 1800, Part 1

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

In this module we will consider a wide chronological scope through the prism of a number of themes, including Ethiopia's unique forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other indigenous faiths, international relations, and internal dynamics. These will be assessed in regards to both archaeological remains and written sources. The ancient stone monoliths of Axum, the medieval rock-hewn churches of Lallibela, and the palaces of the early-modern Gondarine kings will serve as illustrations of times of grandeur. The literary history, the roots of which can be traced to the emergence of the Ethiopic script in the 4th century CE, will provide the chronicles of kings, lives of saints, foundational origin myths and more. External materials such as the Futah Al-Habasha will tell of the overrunning of Ethiopia by the Muslim Ahmad Grañ in the first half of the 16th century, whereas the writings of travellers like the 18th century James Bruce will offer western perspectives.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Ethiopia's unique development up until the end of the eighteenth century.
  • In depth understanding of themes such as religion, international relations and internal politics.
  • Sources developed 'internally' to Ethiopia and 'externally' to examine international perceptions of the country.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analysing a range of written and visual sources from a broad chronological period.
  • Examining the ancient stone monoliths of Axum, the medieval rock-hewn churches of Lallibela, and the palaces of the early-modern Gondarine kings as illustrations of times of grandeur.
  • Using travel writing to understand external perceptions of Ethiopia up until the end of the eighteenth century.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Using archaeological materials alongside written sources.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Considering the unique nature of forms of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in Ethiopia
  • Exploring the position of indigenous faiths in Ethiopia.

Syllabus

Never colonised, Ethiopia stands alone in the African continent as a world player. From its rise in the 1st century as the Kingdom of Axum, and its adoption of Christianity as a state religion in the 4th, it emerged as an independent empire that held its own in regard to the Roman and Persian Empires in Late Antiquity, resisted Islam as its neighbours succumbed one by one in the Medieval period, and kept Western imperial designs at bay. It developed a unique culture that was informed by its ethnic and religious diversity, its impenetrable mountainous terrain and its strategic setting - between Africa and Asia and a buffer between the north-eastern and south-eastern parts of Africa. In this module we will explore each of these developments to understand the historical status of Ethiopia up to the end of the eighteenth century.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Student-led seminars Individual essay tutorials

TypeHours
Preparation for scheduled sessions96
Completion of assessment task100
Independent Study56
Seminar48
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Hable Selassie, S., Ancient and Medieval Ethiopian History to 1270 (1972). 

Pankhurst, R., The Ethiopians: A History (2001). 

Philipson, D., Foundation of an African Civilisation (2014). 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Timed Assignment  (3000 words) 50%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Timed Assignment  (3000 words) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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