Ethiopia’s history goes back to very early times and there have been many notable fossil remains. The most famous is the remains of Lucy, who is one of the most complete and best preserved, adult Australopithecine fossils ever uncovered. She dates to 3.2 million years ago.
Ethiopia was also mentioned in ancient Egyptian records, known as the “Land of Punt’. And it was from Punt that the Egyptians traded for their precious supply of myrrh. The most famous expedition to Punt was by the Pharaoh Hatshepsut, c.1495 BCE, and is recorded on the Temple at Deir el Bahri at Thebes.
The first kingdom to have been known in Ethiopia is that of D’mt, and was based at Yeha about 700 BCE.
The kingdom of Axum was the first powerful kingdom to emerge in the 1st century CE, known as one of the four great powers at the time along with China, Persia and Rome.
Christianity was introduced to the country in 330 CE by Frumentious who converted the ruler Ezana at the time. As a result of his expansions, Aksum bordered on the Roman province of Egypt.
The Axumite kingdom is recorded as controlling the whole of Yemen in the 6th century CE, but it is thought to end in the 7th century CE, although the reasons for its demise are little known.
The rock hewn churches first appeared in the late Aksumite era but most belong to the Zagwe dynasty, which established its capital at Roha. Here they built a series of monolithic churches which are traditionally ascribed to the King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, and thus renamed the city after him.