February

History of Axum

Ethiopia’s, most ancient city and the capital of the Axumite state. It was founded about 1000BC, is the site of many remarkable monolithic stone stelae, or obelisks. The three most important being decorated to represent multi storied building, complete with doors and windows. The largest obelisk is 35 meters long and weigh 500 tons. It is the biggest piece of stone ever cut by humanity anywhere in the world but today it lies broken on the ground. Near it stands a smaller but nevertheless most impressive 24 meter high obelisk, the pride of Ethiopia.

A somewhat larger obelisk was taken to Rome, on the order of the Italian warrior Bento Mussolini in 1937, but it returnes to its homeland and is being erected on August 2008. Axum was a great commercial center. issuing its own currency and trading with Egypt, Arabia, Persia, India and even Ceylon. The settlement was also the site of Ethiopian’s oldest church. It dates back to the coming of Christianity as the state religion, early in the 4th Century.

The original building has disappeared but a structure erected on it site by Emperor Fasildas in the early 17th century is still there. A nearby outhouse is the reputed repository of the biblical Ark of the Covenant. However except one guardian (priest) no one can to enter in to the sanctuary.

About Karo

The population of Karo is only about 3,000 people. They live in southern part of Ethiopia on the practice of flood retreat cultivation on the banks of the Omo River. Their people speak omotic language and they are very close to Hamer and benna. They are considered to be a dialect of Hamer.

Culture of the tribe

The Karo excel in face and body painting, practiced in preparation of their dances and ceremonies. They decorate their bodies, often imitating the spotted plumage of a guinea fowl. Feather plumes are inserted in their clay hair buns to complete the look.The clay hair bun can take up to three days to construct and is usually re-made every three to six months. Their painted face masks are spectacular. Karo women scarify their chests to beautify themselves. Scars are cut with a knife and ash is rubbed to produce a raised welt. This group is the smallest tribe in the area. It obviously struggles with direct threats from nearby tribes that have more gun power, greater numbers, and likely coalitions with one another.

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