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The Abyssinians

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Thames & Hudson
€ 28,00
pp. 260, 128 tavv. b/n, Great Britain
data stampa: 1970
codice isbn: 7010

Though modern Ethiopia is an amalgam of a great many peoples, David Buxton concentrates on the Amharas and Tigreans, who may be regarded as the Abyssinians proper; it is they who were responsible for the distinctive form of Christian culture that evolved in their kingdom from the fourth century onwards. The Abyssinians can be seen as an 'ancient people' in two senses; not only do they possess a long recorded history - and many remarkable monuments to their past survive, including the medieval rock-hewn churches of which a number are now accessible to tourists - but their outlook, beliefs and way of living still preserve, in the countryside, much of their ancient lore and tradition.
Mr Buxton gives a full account of Abyssinian history, religion and customs, devoting his opening chapter to a description of the geography and the people of modern Ethiopia as a whole. The second half of the book surveys the Abyssinians' achievements in architecture, literature, painting and the other arts. In all these fields they produced work which was distinctly their own, quite different in character from that of neighbouring African countries and revealing their early links with the Christian cultures of the eastern Mediterranean. There are two useful appendices, in the first of which the dependence of the Ethiopic Syllabary on the south-Arabian is demonstrated, and the nature and origins of the Amharic Syllabary are examined; the second is concerned with the Calendar, the Calculation of Easter and the Dating of Manuscripts. A large proportion of the photographs have not been published before; many were taken by the author specially for this book.

About the Author: Though the Sciences were the subject of his formaI studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, David Buxton found himself drawn increasingly to other fields-especially to archaeology and early architecture. Already a dedicated traveller, he left for tropical Africa in 1933, as professional entomologist. Nine years later, in the Second World War, he was sent on secondment from West Africa to Ethiopia. During his seven years' stay there, he found ample opportunities to study various aspects of the country, especially the then little-known medieval churches. These investigations were resumed when he revisited Ethiopia in 1969. In 1949 Mr Buxton published a book entitled Travels in Ethiopia (reprinted 1957 and 1967), and he has from time to time contributed articles to journals both learned and popular. He was for many years a member of the British Council's staff, serving mostly overseas. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, he is currently a Research Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge.

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