Deresse Ayenachew Woldetsadik

Deresse Ayenachew Woldetsadik

I Tatti/Getty Foundation Fellow
Medieval Ethiopian Royal Churches in Mediterranean styles(15th-16th century)
2022-2023 (January-June)
Deresse Ayenachew Woldetsadik


Deresse Ayenachew Woldetsadik, PhD. is currently a research fellow at the Aix-Marseille University in the ERC Horn-East Program. He was a 2017/18 research fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Nantes, in France. His research focuses on the medieval history and archaeology of Ethiopia, he has published on diverse topics on the interactions and integrations of the Christian kingdom with medieval megalithic and Islamic cultures. He also served as an assistant professor of history and as Dean for Postgraduate Studies of Debre Berhan University (2009-2017). His new Amharic Book is « Solomonawyan » A History of the political administration of Ethiopia (1270-1529), JAJAW Publishers, Addis Ababa, 2021 376p.


Project Summary

In Ethiopian medieval period, since the 14th century, the quest for the Mediterranean world handicraftsmen was one of the motivations for diplomatic relations. These historical encounters with the Mediterranean world exchanged important elements of mythical ideology, monumental ideas, arts, paintings into Ethiopia in this period. The medieval royal churches were provided from the royal treasury. They were built after the kings, the queens, and even after certain high dignitaries. They were built mostly in the royal domains and some in Muslim areas. They were the markers of the itinerary royal camps of medieval period. The royal churches were built from large ashlar stones embellished with heavily inspired from Mediterranean architectural styles, which had given the unique architectural styles in Ethiopian medieval period. The royal church decorating skills were introduced into medieval Ethiopia by foreign handicraftsmen of Mediterranean world inhabited at the court of the medieval Ethiopia and the Ethiopian pilgrims acquainted with these skills during their sojourn in Mediterranean world. The intention of this research is to understand the importance of embellishing the royal churches in Mediterranean styles in Ethiopian medieval period. It focuses on the understanding of the foreign handcraftsmanship in enhancing the medieval Ethiopian arts and diplomatic exchanges with Europe. It also aims to insight the medieval architectural history in Ethiopia.