A Rock-Hewn Yǝmrǝḥannä Krǝstos? An Investigation into Possible ‘Northern’ Zagwe Churches near ʿAddigrat, Tǝgray
Keywords:Lasta, architecture, copying, medieval, cave church
Rulers of the short-lived Zagwe dynasty have long been lauded for their role as builderkings, producing several churches in the Lalibäla complex in Lasta in addition to the nearby church of Yǝmrǝḥannä Krǝstos. Despite some textual evidence linking this group to Tǝgray, scholars have not hitherto identified any particularly ‘Zagwe’ buildings therein. This paper proposes that several rock-hewn churches near ʿAddigrat in Tǝgray may be the product of thirteenth-century Zagwe church building. My hypothesis is anchored by my identification of the church of Gwaḥgot Iyäsus as a hewn copy of Yǝmrǝḥannä Krǝstos in both form and measurements. This church, which replicates the dimensions of this famous free-standing church almost exactly, also has wood elements within that were seemingly imported from Lasta. Furthermore, I connect the painted decorations to other churches in the cluster: Maryam Qiʿat and even Maryam Qorqor in Gärʿalta. By expanding our view of the Zagwe dynasty towards Tǝgray, we may better understand this little-known period of Ethiopian history.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Mikael Muehlbauer
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