Ethiopian Studies

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Ethiopian Studies is the scientific discipline that deals with languages ​​and cultures as well as the history of Ethiopia and Eritrea in a narrower understanding , but also with the entire region of the Horn of Africa in a broader understanding. It is part of oriental studies .

Origin of the subject

Historically, Ethiopian Studies developed from classical Oriental Studies , which dealt with the Christian Orient and Semitic languages. The focus of the research was on ancient Christian culture and literature, which was mainly written in Old Ethiopian - the only literary language in the country until the early 19th century and today's language of the liturgy ( Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church ). Therefore, especially in the 19th century, classical Ethiopian studies were a pure philology ( textual criticism ) of ancient Ethiopian, based on the relevant linguistic research, combined with the history of the region as it could be deduced from ancient Ethiopian sources.

With the development of written culture in other languages ​​and the increased focus on field research, and thus also non-written aspects of cultures, the boundaries of Ethiopian studies expanded. However, as early as the 17th century , Job Ludolf , the founder of Ethiopian studies, had attempted a comprehensive representation of all cultures, peoples and various states in the Ethiopian region. This comprehensive cultural-scientific research program was only taken up again in the late 20th century by ethnology (including Ulrich Braukämper in Göttingen) and classical Ethiopian studies in Hamburg.

Research subject languages

In total, over 70 languages ​​are spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The most important of these are:

Ethiopics as a cross-sectional subject

Today, Ethiopian Studies is an interdisciplinary subject from philology , linguistics , history , theology , archeology , ethnology and politics .

As a scientific discipline, Ethiopian Studies in the area of ​​so-called "Oriental Studies", unlike, for example, Iranian Studies or Islamic Studies, for a long time did not have a comprehensive, subject-related reference work. Following this academic need, which has been increasing for decades, Siegbert Uhlig and his staff, in cooperation with an international committee of experts, have set themselves the task of compiling the Encyclopaedia Aethiopica , which is estimated to be five volumes . In 2014 the encyclopedia project was completed.

At universities today, Ethiopian Studies is often placed under African Studies (for example, the Department of African Studies and Ethiopian Studies at the Asia-Africa Institute at the University of Hamburg), although the scientific methodology is very different. Ethiopian specializations also offer specialized chairs in Semitic Studies (Rainer Voigt) at the Free University of Berlin and Ethnology (Ulrich Braukämper) at the Georg-August University in Göttingen.

The history of German-Ethiopian relations begins in the late Middle Ages with the studies of German theologians about the distant Christian empire. Even Athanasius Kircher had the Ge'ez language learned. Job Ludolf is generally considered to be the founder .

In Europe today, the University of Hamburg, the Free University of Berlin and the Università di Napoli "L'Orientale" are considered to be centers of Ethiopian Studies . Comprehensive language training that includes all of the above languages, i.e. Old Ethiopian , Amharic , Tigrinya , Tigré , Arabic and Oromo , was possible at the Free University of Berlin in 2009. Today the University of Hamburg is the only university outside of Africa that regularly teaches several Ethiopian and Eritrean languages.

The Ethiopian Research Center (later: Hiob Ludolf Center for Ethiopian Studies) is located at the University of Hamburg. The editorial offices of Encyclopaedia Aethiopica , the journal Aethiopica (International Journal for Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies) and the Ethiopian Research series are also located there .

Other ongoing publications on Ethiopian Studies are: Journal of Ethiopian Studies , Rassegna di Studi Etiopici , Quaderni di studi Etiopici and Northeast African Studies .

Well-known scientists who have contributed to Ethiopian studies include Donald N. Levine , Edward Ullendorff , Enrico Cerulli , Harold C. Fleming , Enno Littmann , Lionel Bender , Neville Chittick , Richard Pankhurst , Wolf Leslau .

Ethiopist meetings

After from 22 to 24 July 2000, the International Ethiopian meeting took place in Berlin, followed by the 15th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies ( 15th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies ) from 21 to 25 July 2003, Hamburg and at the 7th to 8th February 2008 an international workshop on the history and language of the Tigre speakers ( International Workshop "History and Language of Tigre-Speaking People (Eritrea and Sudan)) in Naples.

From April 1st to 4th, 2009 the III. International Enno Littmann conference with the topic "Tigre, Aksum and more" held in Berlin.

On 12./13. In June 2009, the Ethiopian Study Group led by Rainer Voigt at the Free University of Berlin carried out the 1st International Research Colloquium on the Horn of Africa . In addition to the 7 speakers from the Ethiopian Working Group and three speakers from Berlin who are affiliated to the Working Group, seven renowned scientists from Israel, Italy and Germany also gave lectures from the international Ethiopian expert group. The interdisciplinary colloquium dealt with linguistic aspects of the Ethiosemitic and Cushitic languages ​​(June 12th) as well as the culture, society and law of Ethiopia (June 13th). A total of around 30 “ethiopisants” took part in the discussions.

Another meeting of the international expert group - the II. International Research Colloquium on the Horn of Africa - with the aim of presenting their own research and discussing it with colleagues took place on 18./19. December 2009 in Berlin after the XVIIth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa (November 2009).

The III. International research colloquium on the Horn of Africa was held on 20./21. August 2010 at the Free University of Berlin.

Also at the Free University of Berlin from July 22nd to 24th 2010 the international symposium on Semitohamitic research "5000 Years Semitohamitic Languages ​​in Asia and Africa / 5000 Years Semitohamitic Languages ​​in Asia and Africa" ​​was held by Rainer Voigt.


  • Jon Abbink: Ethiopian Society and History: a Bibliography of Ethiopian Studies, 1957–1990 . African Studies Center, Leiden 1991, ISBN 90-70110-86-5 . With supplement volumes, most recently: A bibliography of Ethiopian-Eritrean studies in society and history, 1995–2010. African Studies Center, Leiden 2010, ISBN 978-99944-55-51-5 .
  • Manfred Kropp: From Manuscripts to the Computer: Ethiopian Studies in the Last 150 Years. In: KJ Cathcart (Ed.): The Edward Hincks Bicentenary Lectures . Dublin 1994, ISBN 1-898473-15-3 , pp. 117-35.
  • Ethiopian Studies. In: Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. Volume 2: D-Ha. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-447-05238-4 , pp. 433-438.
  • Siegbert Uhlig (Ed.): Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. More detailed: Ernst Hammerschmidt: Ethiopian Studies at German Universities . Franz Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden 1968, pp. 1-3.
  2. a b Rainer Voigt (Ed.): The Ethiopian Studies in the 20th Century. Files of the International Ethiopian Conference, Berlin July 22-24, 2000 (Ethiopian Studies in the 20th Century). Shaker, Aachen 2003, ISBN 3-8322-2269-3 .
  3. Hatem Elliesie: The second volume of the Encyclopaedia Aethiopica compared. In: Orientalist literary newspaper. Volume 102, Issue 4–5, Berlin 2007, pp. 397–407. ISSN  0030-5383
  4. Asia-Africa Institute, Hamburg
  5. ^ Seminar for Semitic and Arabic Studies, Berlin: Rainer Voigt ( Memento from May 21, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  6. Seminar for Semitic and Arabic Studies, Berlin: Main areas of work ( Memento from May 9, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Georg-August University of Göttingen - Prof. Dr. Ulrich Braukämper
  8. Georg-August-Universität Göttingen - research focus
  9. Asfa-Wossen Asserate : Haberland and the "Frankfurt School" of African Studies. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . Wednesday July 15, 2009, No. 161, page N3.
  10. Ethiopian Studies courses at the University of Hamburg
  11. ^ Job Ludolf Center for Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies
  12. ^ Website of the Encyclopaedia Aethiopica
  13. ^ Website of the journal Aethiopica ( Memento from January 2, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) ISSN  1430-1938
  14. ^ Website of the series Ethiopist Research ISSN  0170-3196
  15. ^ Journal of Ethiopian Studies. ISSN  0304-2243
  16. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici. ZDB -ID 300675-x , ISSN  0390-0096
  17. Quaderni di studi Etiopici . ZDB ID 13424-7
  18. ^ Northeast African Studies. ISSN  0740-9133
  19. Siegbert Uhlig (Ed.): Proceedings of the XVth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Hamburg, July 20-25, 2003. (= Ethiopian Research. Volume 65). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-447-04799-2 .
  20. Maria Bulakh: February 7-8, 2008 in Naples - International Workshop "History and Language of Tigre-Speaking People (Eritrea and Sudan). In: Aethiopica. 11, Wiesbaden 2008, p. 301f. Http: //www1.unihamburg .de / AETHIOPICA / Conference reports / 2008 / Conferences - History and Language of the Tigre-Speaking Peoples in Naples (Bulakh) .pdf (link not available)
  21. reports / 2009/3 IntLittConf Berlin (Hatem Elliesie - Breyer) (2011 01 12) .pdf (link not available)
  22. reports / 2009/1 IntForschKoll Berlin (Hatem Elliesie - Guss) (2011 01 12) .pdf (link not available)
  23. reports / 2009/2 IntForschKoll Berlin (Hever - Wetter) (2011 01 12) .pdf (link not available)
  24. reports / 2010/3 IntForschKoll Berlin (Bulakh - Dege) (2011 01 14) .pdf (link not available)
  25. ^ Announcement (German) ( Memento from August 25, 2010 in the Internet Archive ).
  26. [ Anna G. Belova: '' 5000 ЛЕТ СЕМИТО-ХАМИТСКИХ ЯЗЫКОВ АЗИИ И АФРИКИ. '' In: '' Vostok (Oriens). '' 2011, No. 1, pp. 137–142.] (Link not available)