Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Axum::Ancient City in Ethiopia_Part_1

Axum or Aksum (Tigrinya:- አኽሱም ˈaĥsum, Amharic:- አክሱም ˈaksum) is a city in northern Ethiopia that was the original capital of the kingdom of Axum. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa. It has a population of 56,500 (2010) and is governed as an urban woreda. Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from about 400 BC into the 10th century. The kingdom was also arbitrarily identified as Abyssinia, Ethiopia, and India in medieval writings. In 1980 UNESCO added Aksum's archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historic value.
Located in the Mehakelegnaw Zone of the Tigray Region near the base of the Adwa mountains, Axum has an elevation of 2,131 meters (6,991 feet). Axum is surrounded by La'ilay Maychew woreda.
It is served by Axum Airport (ICAO code HAAX, IATA AXU).

 HistoryFor more details on the early history of Axum, see Kingdom of Aksum.
Axum was the center of the marine trading power known as the Aksumite Kingdom, which predated the earliest mentions in Roman era writings. Around 356, its ruler was converted to Christianity by Frumentius. Later, under the reign of Kaleb, Axum was a quasi-ally of Byzantium against the Persian Empire. The historical record is unclear, with ancient church records the primary contemporary sources.
It is believed it began a long slow decline after the 7th century due partly to the Persians (Zoroastrian) and finally the Arabs contesting old Red sea trade routes. Eventually Aksum was cut off from its principal markets in Alexandria, Byzantium and Southern Europe and its trade share was captured by Arab traders of the era. The Kingdom of Aksum was finally destroyed by Gudit, and eventually some of the people of Aksum were forced south and their civilization declined. As the kingdom's power declined so did the influence of the city, which is believed to have lost population in the decline, similar to Rome and other cities thrust away from the flow of world events. The last known (nominal) king to reign was crowned in about the 10th century, but the kingdom's influence and power ended long before that.
Its decline in population and trade then contributed to the shift of the power center of the Ethiopian Empire south to the Agaw region as it moved further inland. The city of axum was actually an emoire spanning 1 million square miles. Eventually, the alternative name (Ethiopia) was adopted by the central region, and subsequently, the present modern state

Near East in 565, showing the kingdom of Aksum and its neighbors

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Cape Guardafui::Ancient City in Somalia

Cape Guardafui (Somali: Gees Gardafuul), also known as Ras Asir and historically as Aromata promontorium, is a headland in the autonomous Puntland region in Somalia. Coextensive with the Gardafuul administrative province, it forms the geographical apex of the Horn of Africa.

Cape Guardafui is located at 11°49′N 51°15′E, near the Gulf of Aden. The archipelago of Socotra lies off the cape in the Indian Ocean.
15 leagues (45 miles) west of Guardafui is Mount Felix, a steep cliff jutting into the Gulf of Aden from flatland. The mountain is believed to correspond with the ancient Elephas Mons (Ras Filuk in Arabic) described by Strabo.
Referred to as Aromata promontorium by the ancient Greeks, Guardafui was described as early as the 1st century CE in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, along with other flourishing commercial settlements on the northern Somali littoral.
In the early 19th century, Somali seamen barred entry to their ports along the coast, while engaging in trade with Aden and Mocha in adjacent Yemen using their own vessels.
Lighthouse dedication plaque.

Due to consistent ship crashes along the coast, King Osman Mahamuud of the Majeerteen Sultanate, which controlled much of the northeastern Somali seaboard during the 19th century, entered into an informal agreement with Britain. The pact stipulated that the British would pay the King annual subsidies to protect shipwrecked British crews and guard wrecks against plunder. The agreement, however, remained unratified, as the British feared that doing so would "give other powers a precedent for making agreements with the Somalis, who seemed ready to enter into relations with all comers."
Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid of the Sultanate of Hobyo, which also controlled a portion of the coast, later granted concessions to an Aden-based French hotel proprietor and a former French Army officer to construct a lighthouse in Cape Guardafui. Capital for the project was raised by a firm in Marseilles, but the deal subsequently fell through.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Italian authorities in Italian Somaliland finally made good on the construction plans. A stone lighthouse and radio station were eventually built in the headland,[6] with the former named after Francesco Crispi.
On April 8, 2013, the Puntland government announced the creation of a new region coextensive with Cape Guardafui named Gardafuul. Carved out of the Bari region, it consists of three districts and has its capital at Aluula.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Yeha::Ancient City in Ethiopia

Yeha (Ge'ez ይሐ yiḥa, older ESA Himjar ha2.PNGHimjar wa.PNG ḤW)[1] is a town in northern Ethiopia, located in the Mehakelegnaw Zone of the Tigray Region. The Central Statistical Agency has not published an estimate for this village's 2005 population.

Ruins of the temple at Yeha in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.


The oldest standing structure in Ethiopia is located in Yeha: the temple of Yeha. This is a tower built in the Sabaean style, and dated through comparison with ancient structures in South Arabia to around 700 BC. Although no radiocarbon dating testing has been performed on samples from site, this date for the Great Tower is supported by local inscriptions.David Phillipson attributes its "excellent preservation" to two factors, "the care with which its original builders ensured a level foundation, firmly placed on the uneven bedrock; and to its rededication -- perhaps as early as the sixth century AD -- for use as a Christian church."Two other archeological sites at Yeha include Grat Beal Gebri, a ruined complex distinguished by a portico 10 meters wide and two sets of square pillars, and a graveyard containing several rock-hewn shaft tombs first investigated in the early 1960s. One authority has speculated that one of these tombs contained a royal burial, while another believes the ancient residential area was likely one kilometer to the east of the modern village.Yeha is also the location of an Ethiopian Orthodox monastery, founded according to tradition by Abba Aftse, one of the Nine Saints. In his account of Ethiopia, Francisco Álvares mentions visiting this town in 1520 (which he called "Abbafaçem"), and provides a description of the ancient tower, the monastery, and the local church. This church was either the rededicated Great Temple, or a now destroyed building which the Deutsche Aksum-Expedition described in the early 20th century. (The current structure, which exhibits Aksumite architectural features, was built between 1948 and 1949.)Yeha has also been the site of a number of archaeological excavations, beginning in 1952 by the Ethiopian Institute of Archeology. Although interrupted during the Derg regime, excavations were resumed in 1993 by a French archaeological team.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Carthage::Ancient City in Tunisia-Part_3_Last


Punic ruins in Byrsa
On top of Byrsa hill, the location of the Roman Forum, a residential area from the last century of existence (early 2nd century) of the Punic city was excavated by the French archaeologist Serge Lancel. The neighborhood, with its houses, shops and private spaces, is significant for what it reveals about daily life there over twenty-one hundred years ago.
The habitat is typical, even stereotypical. The street was often used as a storefront; cistern tanks were installed in basements to collect water for domestic use, and a long corridor on the right side of each residence led to a courtyard containing a sump, around which various other elements may be found. In some places the ground is covered with mosaics called punica pavement, sometimes using a characteristic red mortar.
The remains have been preserved under embankments, the substructures of the later Roman forum, whose foundation piles dot the district. The housing blocks are separated by a grid of straight streets approximately six metres wide, with a roadway consisting of clay; there are in situ stairs to compensate for the slope of the hill. Construction of this type presupposes organization and political will, and has inspired the name of the neighborhood, "Hannibal district", referring to the legendary Punic general or Suffete (consul) at the beginning of the 2nd century BC.

Roman Carthage

Roman Carthage

When Carthage fell, its nearby rival Utica, a Roman ally, was made capital of the region and replaced Carthage as the leading center of Punic trade and leadership. It had the advantageous position of being situated on the Lake of Tunis and the outlet of the Majardah River, Tunisia's only river that flowed all year long. However, grain cultivation in the Tunisian mountains caused large amounts of silt to erode into the river. This silt accumulated in the harbor until it became useless, and Rome was forced to rebuild Carthage.
By 122 BC Gaius Gracchus founded a short-lived colony, called Colonia Iunonia, after the Latin name for the punic goddess Tanit, Iuno caelestis. The purpose was to obtain arable lands for impoverished farmers. The Senate abolished the colony some time later, in order to undermine Gracchus' power.
After this ill-fated attempt a new city of Carthage was built on the same land by Julius Caesar in 49–44 BC period, and by the 1st century A.D. it had grown to be the second largest city in the western half of the Roman Empire, with a peak population of 500,000[citation needed]. It was the center of the Roman province of Africa, which was a major breadbasket of the Empire.
Carthage also became a centre of early Christianity. In the first of a string of rather poorly reported councils at Carthage a few years later, no fewer than 70 bishops attended. Tertullian later broke with the mainstream that was represented more and more in the west by the bishop of Rome, but a more serious rift among Christians was the Donatist controversy, which Augustine of Hippo spent much time and parchment arguing against. In 397 AD at the Council at Carthage, the biblical canon for the western Church was confirmed.


Vandal Empire in 500 AD, centered in Carthage.

The political fallout from the deep disaffection of African Christians is supposedly a crucial factor in the ease with which Carthage and the other centres were captured in the 5th century by Gaiseric, king of the Vandals, who defeated the Roman general Bonifacius and made the city his capital. Gaiseric was considered a heretic too, an Arian, and though Arians commonly despised orthodox Catholic Christians, a mere promise of toleration might have caused the city's population to accept him. After a failed attempt to recapture the city in the 5th century, the Eastern Roman empire finally subdued the Vandals in the Vandalic War 533–534.
Thereafter the city became the seat of the praetorian prefecture of Africa, which during the emperor Maurice's reign, was made into an Exarchate, as was Ravenna in Italy. These two exarchates were the western bulwarks of the Roman empire, all that remained of its power in the west. In the early 7th century it was the exarch of Carthage who overthrew emperor Phocas.

Islamic conquests
The Roman Exarchate of Africa was not able to withstand the Muslim conquerors of the 7th century. Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik in 686 AD sent a force led by Zuhayr ibn Qais who won a battle over Romans and Berbers led by Kusaila, on the Qairawan plain; but could not follow that up. In 695 AD Hasan ibn al-Nu'man captured Carthage and advanced into the Atlas Mountains. An imperial fleet arrived and retook Carthage, but in 698 AD Hasan ibn al-Nu'man returned and defeated Emperor Tiberios III at the Battle of Carthage. Roman imperial forces withdrew from all Africa except Ceuta. Roman Carthage was destroyed—its walls torn down, its water supply cut off and its harbours made unusable. It was replaced by Tunis as the major regional center. The destruction of the Exarchate of Africa marked a permanent end to the Byzantine Empire's influence in the region.
Modern times
In the mid-19th century Nathan Davis and other European archaeologists were given permission to excavate the ancient city.
Carthage remains a popular tourist attraction and residential suburb of Tunis. The Tunisian presidential palace is located in the city.In February 1985, Ugo Vetere, the mayor of Rome, and Chedly Klibi, the mayor of Carthage, signed a symbolic treaty "officially" ending the conflict between their cities, which had been supposedly extended by the lack of a peace treaty for more than 2,100 years.In Lebanon, the ancient Phoenician homeland, the name Carthage is still remembered in many place names. One such is the village of "Qartada" in the Baabda district.
Portrayals in fiction
Carthage features in Gustave Flaubert's historical novel Salammbô (1862). Set around the time of the Mercenary War, it includes a dramatic description of child sacrifice, and the boy Hannibal narrowly avoiding being sacrificed.
In The Dead Past, a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov, a leading character is an ancient historian who is trying to disprove the allegation that the Carthaginians carried out child sacrifice.
In Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey, Carthage is a conquering nation geographically and culturally based on the historical Carthage.[citation needed]
The Purple Quest by Frank G. Slaughter is about the founding of Carthage.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Carthage::Ancient City in Tunisia-Part_2

Carthaginian Republic

 The Carthaginian Republic was one of the longest-lived and largest states in the ancient Mediterranean. Reports relay several wars with Syracuse and finally, Rome, which eventually resulted in the defeat and destruction of Carthage in the third Punic war. The Carthaginians were Semitic Phoenician settlers originating in the Mediterranean coast of the Near East. They spoke Canaanite and followed a predominantly Canaanite religion.

Carthaginian-held territory in the early 3rd century BC

According to Polybius, Carthage relied heavily, though not exclusively, on foreign mercenaries, especially in overseas warfare. The core of its army was from its own territory in north Africa (ethnic Libyans and Numidians (modern northern Algeria), as well as "Liby-Phoenicians"—i.e., Phoenicians proper). These troops were supported by mercenaries from different ethnic groups and geographic locations across the Mediterranean who fought in their own national units; Celtic, Balearic, and Iberian troops were especially common. Later, after the Barcid conquest of Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal), Iberians came to form an even greater part of the Carthaginian forces. Carthage seems to have fielded a formidable cavalry force, especially in its North African homeland; a significant part of it was composed of Numidian contingents of light cavalry. Other mounted troops included the now extinct North African elephants, trained for war, which, among other uses, were commonly used for frontal assaults or as anti-cavalry protection. An army could field up to several hundred of these animals, but on most reported occasions fewer than a hundred were deployed. The riders of these elephants were armed with a spike and hammer to kill the elephants in case they charged toward their own army.



 Roman trireme mosaic from Carthage, Bardo Museum, Tunis

 The navy of Carthage was one of the largest in the Mediterranean, using serial production to maintain high numbers at moderate cost. The sailors and marines of the Carthaginian navy were predominantly recruited from the Phoenician citizenry, unlike the multi-ethnic allied and mercenary troops of the Carthaginian armies. The navy offered a stable profession and financial security for its sailors. This helped to contribute to the city's political stability, since the unemployed, debt ridden poor in other cities were frequently inclined to support revolutionary leaders in the hope of improving their own lot. The reputation of her skilled sailors implies that there was in peacetime a training of oarsmen and coxswains, giving their navy a cutting edge in naval matters.
The trade of Carthaginian merchantmen was by land across the Sahara and especially by sea throughout the Mediterranean and far into the Atlantic to the tin-rich Cassiterides., and also to North West Africa. There is evidence that at least one Punic expedition, that of Hanno, may have sailed along the West African coast to regions south of the Tropic of Cancer.Polybius wrote in the sixth book of his History that the Carthaginians were "more exercised in maritime affairs than any other people." Their navy included some 300 to 350 warships. The Romans, who had little experience in naval warfare prior to the First Punic War, managed to finally defeat Carthage with a combination of reverse engineering captured Carthaginian ships, recruitment of experienced Greek sailors from the ranks of its conquered cities, the unorthodox corvus device, and their superior numbers in marines and rowers. In the Third Punic War Polybius describes a tactical innovation of the Carthaginians, augmenting their few triremes with small vessels that carried hooks (to attack the oars) and fire (to attack the hulls). With this new combination, they were able to stand their ground against the numerically superior Roman for a whole day.


Ruins of Carthage

The fall of Carthage came at the end of the Third Punic War in 146 BC at the Battle of Carthage. Despite initial devastating Roman naval losses and Rome's recovery from the brink of defeat after the terror of a 15-year occupation of much of Italy by Hannibal, the end of the series of wars resulted in the end of Carthaginian power and the complete destruction of the city by Scipio Aemilianus. The Romans pulled the Phoenician warships out into the harbour and burned them before the city, and went from house to house, capturing and enslaving the people. Fifty thousand Carthaginians were sold into slavery. The city was set ablaze, and razed to the ground, leaving only ruins and rubble. After the fall of Carthage, Rome annexed the majority of the Carthaginian colonies, including other North African locations such as Volubilis, Lixus, Chellah, and Mogador. The legend that the city was sown with salt is not mentioned by the ancient sources; R.T. Ridley suggested that the story originated from 1930 in section of the Cambridge Ancient History written by B Hallward whose influence might be an account of Abimelech's salting of Shechem in Judges 9:45. Warmington admitted his fault in repeating Hallward's error but mentions an example of the story that goes back to 1299 when Boniface VIII destroyed Palestrina.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Carthage::Ancient City in Tunisia-Part_1

 Carthage (/ˈkɑrθɪdʒ/; Arabic: قرطاج‎ Qarṭāj, Berber: ⴽⴰⵔⵜⴰⵊⴻⵏ Kartajen) is a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia that was the centre of the Carthaginian Empire in antiquity. The city has existed for nearly 3,000 years, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC into the capital of an ancient empire.It was little more than an agricultural village for nine hundred years until the middle of the 20th century; since then it has grown rapidly as an upscale coastal suburb.In 2004 it had a population of 15,922 according to the national census, and an estimated population of 21,276 in January 2013.Historically Carthage has been known as: Latin: Carthago or Karthago, Ancient Greek: Καρχηδών Karkhēdōn, Etruscan: *Carθaza, from the Phoenician 𐤒𐤓𐤕 𐤇𐤃𐤔𐤕 Qart-ḥadaštmeaning New City (Aramaic: קרתא חדתא‎, Qarta Ḥdatha), implying it was a 'new Tyre'.The first civilization that developed within the city's sphere of influence is referred to as Punic (a form of the word "Phoenician") or Carthaginian. The city of Carthage is located on the eastern side of Lake Tunis across from the center of Tunis. According to Greek historians, Carthage was founded by Canaanite-speaking Phoenician colonists from Tyre (in modern Lebanon) under the leadership of Queen Elissa or Dido. It became a large and rich city and thus a major power in the Mediterranean. The resulting rivalry with Syracuse, Numidia, and Rome was accompanied by several wars with respective invasions of each other's homeland.
Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War culminated in the Carthaginian victory at Cannae and led to a serious threat to the continuation of Roman rule over Italy; however, Carthage emerged from the conflict weaker after Hannibal's defeat at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. Following the Third Punic War, the city was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. However, the Romans refounded Carthage, which became the empire's fourth most important city and the second most important city in the Latin West. It later became the capital of the short-lived Vandal kingdom. It remained one of the most important Roman cities until the Muslim conquest when it was destroyed a second time in 698.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote extensively on Carthaginian politics, and he considered the city to have one of the best governing institutions in the world, along with those of the Greek states of Sparta and Crete.
Carthage was built on a promontory with sea inlets to the north and the south. The city's location made it master of the Mediterranean's maritime trade. All ships crossing the sea had to pass between Sicily and the coast of Tunisia, where Carthage was built, affording it great power and influence.
Two large, artificial harbors were built within the city, one for harboring the city's massive navy of 220 warships and the other for mercantile trade. A walled tower overlooked both harbours.
The city had massive walls, 37 kilometres (23 mi) in length, longer than the walls of comparable cities. Most of the walls were located on the shore and thus could be less impressive, as Carthaginian control of the sea made attack from that direction difficult. The 4.0 to 4.8 kilometres (2.5 to 3 mi) of wall on the isthmus to the west were truly massive and were never penetrated.
The city had a huge necropolis or burial ground, religious area, market places, council house, towers and a theater and was divided into four equally sized residential areas with the same layout. Roughly in the middle of the city stood a high citadel called the Byrsa.
Carthage was one of the largest cities in Hellenistic times and was among the largest cities in pre-industrial history. Whereas by 14 A.D. Rome had at least 750,000 inhabitants, and in the following century may have reached 1 million, the cities of Alexandria, Antioch, and Carthage numbered only a few hundred thousand or less.According to the not always reliable history of Herodian, Carthage rivaled Alexandria for second place in the Roman empire.




Layout of the city.
 The historical study of Carthage is problematic. Because its culture and records were destroyed by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War, very few primary Carthaginian historical sources survived. While there are few ancient translations of Punic texts into Greek and Latin, inscriptions remain on monuments and buildings discovered in North Africa, the main sources are Greek and Roman historians, including Livy, Polybius, Appian, Cornelius Nepos, Silius Italicus, Plutarch, Dio Cassius, and Herodotus. These writers belonged to peoples in competition, and often in conflict, with Carthage. Greek cities contested with Carthage for the Western Mediterranean culminating in the Greek-Punic Wars and the Pyrrhic War over Sicily, and the Romans fought three wars against Carthage. Not surprisingly, their accounts of Carthage are extremely hostile; while there are a few Greek authors who took a favorable view, these works have been lost.
Foundation legends
Queen Elissa (Dido)
 According to Roman sources, Phoenician colonists from modern-day Lebanon, led by Queen Dido (Elissa), founded Carthage (c. 814 B.C.).Queen Elissa (also known as "Alissar") was an exiled princess of the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. At its peak, the metropolis she founded, Carthage, came to be called the "shining city," ruling 300 other cities around the western Mediterranean and leading the Phoenician (or Punic) world.
Elissa's brother, King Pygmalion of Tyre, had murdered her husband, the high priest. Elissa escaped the tyranny of her own country, founding the "new city" of Carthage and subsequently its later dominions. Details of her life are sketchy and confusing, but the following can be deduced from various sources. According to Justin, Princess Elissa was the daughter of King Belus II of Tyre. When he died, the throne was jointly bequeathed to her and her brother, Pygmalion. She married her uncle Acherbas (also known as Sychaeus), the High Priest of Melqart, a man with both authority and wealth comparable to the king. This led to increased rivalry between religion and the monarchy. Pygmalion was a tyrant, lover of both gold and intrigue, who desired the authority and fortune enjoyed by Acherbas.Pygmalion assassinated Acherbas in the temple and kept the misdeed concealed from his sister for a long time, deceiving her with lies about her husband's death. At the same time, the people of Tyre called for a single sovereign.

Virgil's Aeneid
In the Roman epic of Virgil, the Aeneid, Queen Dido, the Greek name for Queen Elissa, is first introduced as an extremely respected character. In just seven years, since their exodus from Tyre, the Carthaginians have rebuilt a successful kingdom under her rule. Her subjects adore her and present her with a festival of praise. Her character is perceived by Virgil as even more noble when she offers asylum to Aeneas and his men, who have recently escaped from Troy. A spirit in the form of the messenger god, Mercury, sent by Jupiter, reminds Aeneas that his mission is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, Dido, but to sail to Italy to found Rome. Virgil ends his legend of Dido with the story that, when Aeneas tells Dido, her heart broken, she orders a pyre to be built where she falls upon Aeneas' sword. As she lay dying, she predicted eternal strife between Aeneas' people and her own: "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit" (4.625, trans. Fitzgerald) she says, an invocation of Hannibal. The details of Virgil's story do not, however, form part of the original legend and are significant mainly as an indication of Rome's attitude towards the city she had destroyed, exemplified by Cato the Elder's much-repeated utterance, "Carthago delenda est", "Carthage must be destroyed."

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Zeila::Ancient City in Somalia-Part_Last

Ottoman period

 Flag of Ottoman Zeila

Although nominally part of the Ottoman Empire since 1559, between 1821 to 1841, Muhammad Ali, Pasha of Egypt, came to control Yemen and the sahil, with Zeila included.After the Egyptians withdrew from the Yemeni seaboard in 1841, Haj Ali Shermerki, a successful and ambitious Somali merchant, purchased from them executive rights over Zeila. Shermerki's governorship had an instant effect on the city, as he maneuvered to monopolize as much of the regional trade as possible, with his sights set as far as Harar and the Ogaden. In 1845, Shermerki deployed a few matchlock men to wrest control of neighboring Berbera from that town's then feuding Somali authorities. This alarmed the Emir of Harar, who, having already been at loggerheads with Shermerki over fiscal matters, was concerned about the ramifications that these movements might ultimately have on his own city's commerce. The Emir consequently urged Berbera's leaders to reconcile and mount a resistance against Shermerki's troops. Shermerki was later succeeded as Governor of Zeila by Abu Bakr Pasha, a local Afar statesman.In 1874-75, the Egyptians obtained a firman from the Ottomans by which they secured claims over the city. At the same time, the Egyptians received British recognition of their nominal jurisdiction as far east as Cape Guardafui. In actuality, however, Egypt had little authority over the interior and their period of rule on the coast was brief, lasting only a few years (1870–84). When the Egyptian garrison in Harar was evacuated in 1885, Zeila became caught up in the competition between the Tadjoura-based French and the British for control of the strategic Gulf of Aden littoral. I.M. Lewis mentions that "by the end of 1885 Britain was preparing to resist an expected French landing at Zeila." However, the two powers decided instead to turn to negotiations.

British Somaliland

In 1888, the Ottoman Empire and Britain concluded an agreement defining the boundary between their respective protectorates. As a result, Zeila and its eastern neighbor Berbera came to be part of British Somaliland.
The construction of a railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa in the late 19th century continued the neglect of Zeila.At the beginning of the next century, the city was described in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica as having a "good sheltered anchorage much frequented by Arab sailing craft. However, heavy draught steamers are obliged to anchor a mile and a half from the shore. Small coasting boats lie off the pier and there is no difficulty in loading or discharging cargo. The water supply of the town is drawn from the wells of Takosha, about three miles distant; every morning camels, in charge of old Somali women and bearing goatskins filled with water, come into the town in picturesque procession. ... [Zeila's] imports, which reach Zaila chiefly via Aden, are mainly cotton goods, rice, jowaree, dates and silk; the exports, 90% of which are from Abyssinia, are principally coffee, skins, ivory, cattle, ghee and mother-of-pearl".



In the post-independence period, Zeila was administered as part of the official Awdal region of Somalia.
Following the outbreak of the civil war in the early 1990s, much of the city's historic infrastructure was destroyed and many residents left the area. However, remittance funds sent by relatives abroad have contributed toward reconstruction of the town, as well as the local trade and fishing industries.

 Ruins of the Adal Sultanate in modern Zeila.


As of 2012, Zeila had a population of around 8,600 inhabitants.The broader Zeila District has a total population of 28,235 residents.The Awdal region in which the city is situated is primarily inhabited by people from the Somali ethnic group, with the Gadabuursi- Makahiil especially well represented.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Zeila::Ancient City in Somalia-Part 2

Adal kingdom

Islam was introduced to the area early on from the Arabian peninsula, shortly after the hijra. Zeila's two-mihrab Masjid al-Qiblatayn dates to the 7th century, and is the oldest mosque in the city. In the late 800s, Al-Yaqubi wrote that Muslims were living along the northern Somali seaboard. He also mentioned that the Adal kingdom had its capital in the city,suggesting that the Adal Sultanate with Zeila as its headquarters dates back to at least the 9th or 10th centuries. According to I.M. Lewis, the polity was governed by local dynasties consisting of Somalized Arabs or Arabized Somalis, who also ruled over the similarly-established Sultanate of Mogadishu in the Benadir region to the south. Adal's history from this founding period forth would be characterized by a succession of battles with neighbouring Abyssinia.

By 1330, the Moroccan historian and traveler Ibn Batutta would describe the city as dominated by Muslims from the Zaidi Shi'ite denomination, an apparent indication of an early Persian influence in the region.
Zeila's importance as a trading port is further confirmed by Al-Idrisi and Ibn Said, who describe it as a town of considerable size and a center of the local slave trade. Pankhurst, amongst other writers, thought Marco Polo was referring to Zeila (then the capital of Adal) when he recounts how the Sultan of Aden seized a bishop of Abyssinia traveling through his realm, attempted to convert the man by force, then had him circumcised according to Islamic practice. This action provoked the Abyssinian Emperor into raising an army and capturing the Sultan's capital.
Through extensive trade with Abyssinia and Arabia, Adal attained its height of prosperity during the 1300s. It sold incense, myrrh, slaves, gold, silver and camels, among many other commodities. Zeila had by then started to grow into a huge multicultural metropolis, with Gulf Arab, Somali, Afar, Oromo, and even Persian inhabitants. The city was also instrumental in bringing Islam to the Oromo and other Ethiopian ethnic groups.
In 1332, the Zeila-based King of Adal was slain in a military campaign aimed at halting the Abyssinian Emperor Amda Seyon's march toward the city. When the last Sultan of Ifat, Sa'ad ad-Din II, was also killed by Dawit I of Ethiopia in Zeila in 1410, his children escaped to Yemen, before later returning in 1415. In the early 15th century, Adal's capital was moved further inland to the town of Dakkar, where Sabr ad-Din II, the eldest son of Sa'ad ad-Din II, established a new base after his return from Yemen. Adal's headquarters were again relocated the following century, this time to Harar. From this new capital, Adal organised an effective army led by Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmad "Gurey" or "Gran") that invaded the Abyssinian empire. This campaign is historically known as the Conquest of Abyssinia (Futuh al Habash). During the war, Imam Ahmad pioneered the use of cannons supplied by the Ottoman Empire, which he imported through Zeila and deployed against Abyssinian forces and their Portuguese allies led by Cristóvão da Gama.Some scholars argue that this conflict proved, through their use on both sides, the value of firearms like the matchlock musket, cannons and the arquebus over traditional weapons.
Travellers' reports, such as the memoirs of the Italian Ludovico di Varthema, indicate that Zeila continued to be an important marketplace during the 16th century, despite being sacked by the Portuguese in 1517 and 1528. Later that century, separate raids by nomads from the interior eventually prompted the port's then ruler, Garad Lado, to enlist the services of 'Atlya ibn Muhammad to construct a sturdy wall around the city. Zeila, however, ultimately began to decline in importance following the short-lived conquest of Abyssinia.

Yemenite period
Beginning in 1630, the city became a dependency of the ruler of Mocha, who, for a small sum, leased the port to one of the office-holders of Mocha. The latter in return collected a toll on its trade. Zeila was subsequently ruled by an Emir, whom Mordechai Abir suggested had "some vague claim to authority over all of the sahil, but whose real authority did not extend very far beyond the walls of the town." Assisted by cannons and a few mercenaries armed with matchlocks, the governor succeeded in fending off incursions by both the disunited nomads of the interior, who had penetrated the area, as well as brigands in the Gulf of Aden. By the first half of the nineteenth century, Zeila was a shadow of its former self, having been reduced to "a large village surrounded by a low mud wall, with a population that varied according to the season from 1,000 to 3,000 people."The city continued to serve as the principal maritime outlet for Harar and beyond it in Shewa. However, the opening of a new sea route between Tadjoura and Shewa cut further into Zeila's historic position as the main regional port.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Zeila::Ancient City in Somalia-Part 1

 Zeila (Somali: Saylac, Arabic: زيلع‎), also known as Zaila, is a port city in the northwestern Awdal region of Somalia.
It was in antiquity identified with the commercial port of Avalites described in the 1st century Greek document the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, an area that was situated in the historic northern Barbara region. The town evolved into an early Islamic center with the arrival of Muslims shortly after the hijra. By the 9th century, Zeila would be described as the capital of an already-established Adal kingdom, and would attain its height of prosperity a few centuries later in the 1300s. The city subsequently came under Ottoman and British protection.
In the post-independence period, Zeila was administered as part of the official Zeila District in the Awdal region of Somalia. It serves as the province's commercial capital and is a major seaport within the autonomous Awdalland region.


Zeila is situated in the Awdal region in northwestern Somalia. Located on the Gulf of Aden coast near the Djibouti border, the town sits on a sandy spit surrounded by the sea. It is known for its coral reef, mangroves and offshore islands, which include the Saad ad-Din archipelago named after the Somali Sultan Sa'ad ad-Din II of the Ifat Sultanate. Landward, the terrain is unbroken desert for some fifty miles. Berbera lies 170 miles (270 km) southeast of Zeila, while the city of Harar in Ethiopia is 200 miles (320 km) to the west.




Zeila is an ancient city, and has been identified with what was referred to in classical antiquity as the town of Avalites, situated in the erstwhile Barbara geographical region on the northern Somali coast. Along with the neighboring Habash (Habesha or Abyssinians) of Al-Habash to the west, the Barbaroi or Berber (ancestral Somalis) who inhabited the area are recorded in the 1st century CE Greek document the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea as engaging in extensive commercial exchanges with Egypt and pre-Islamic Arabia. The travelogue mentions the Barbaroi trading frankincense, among various other commodities, through their port cities such as Avalites (modern Zeila). Competent seamen, the Periplus' author also indicates that they sailed throughout the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden for trade. The document describes the Barbaroi's system of governance as decentralized, and essentially consisting of a collection of autonomous city-states. It also suggests that "the Berbers who live in the place are very unruly", an apparent reference to their independent streak.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Luxor::Ancient City in Egypt-Part 3 (Last)

Sights of modern-day Luxor

East bank
  • Luxor Temple
  • Luxor International Airport
  • Karnak Temple
  • Luxor Museum
  • Mummification Museum
  • Winter Palace Hotel

 A panoramic view of the great hypostyle hall in the Precinct of Amun Re
West bank
  • Valley of the Kings
  • Valley of the Queens
  • Medinet Habu (memorial temple of Ramesses III)
  • The Ramesseum (memorial temple of Ramesses II)
  • Deir el-Medina (workers' village)
  • Tombs of the Nobles
  • Deir el-Bahri (Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, etc.)
  • Malkata (palace of Amenophis III)
  • Colossi of Memnon (memorial temple of Amenophis III)


 Closeup of illuminated red granite obelisk

 Sitting Ramesses II Colossus inside Luxor Temple by night

 Islamic mosque over pharaonic temple

 The red granite obelisk

 Sitting Ramesses II Colossus inside Luxor Temple

 Roman mural in an inner chambe

 A well preserved sphinx

 Wall inscription

 Luxor Temple and Abu el-Haggag mosque

 The Abu el-Haggag mosque inside of the temple

 Interior of Abu el-Haggag mosque

 Hundreds of sphinxes once lined the road to nearby Karnak

 Closeup of the same Colossus

 The east side of the peristyle court of Amenhotep III

 Mosque in Mansheya Street

 The New Corniche in Luxor

 Station Street in Luxor

 Northwestern part

 Central corridor and four colossi by night

 A panoramic view of the interior of the Luxor temple, just inside the entrance. The Abu Haggag Mosque, built over the ruins, is on the left.

 Hot-air ballooning over the west bank

 Amenhotep's colonnade from the peristyle court

 The massive First Pylon

 Luxor Temple, from the east bank of the Nile

 Panoramic view of Luxor

Amenhotep's colonnade from the peristyle court


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