National Geographic : 1928 Aug
VOL. LIV, No. 2 WASHINGTON AUGUST, 1928 iAT 0INAIL EOG]RA1P]HIG @ MAGAZHiE COPYRIGHT.1928. BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTOND. C., IN THE UNITED STATESAND GREAT BRITAIN NATURE AND MAN IN ETHIOPIA* BY WILFRED H. OSGOOD, PH. D. LEADER OF THE FIELD MUSEUM-CHICAGO DAILY NEWS ABYSSINIAN EXPEDITION OF 1926-1927 With Photographs by the Author and Alfred M. Bailey, Member of the Expedition SFRICA, once known as the Dark Continent, still has a few dark corners, but most of them are rela tively small and, with one notable excep tion, no large area remains which is not under European influence. This is the ancient independent Empire of Ethiopia, which sits aloof on its elevated plateau, unconquered, little known, and almost un sung. Its autonomous position, however, is not for lack of interest, since it is larger than the Republic of France, it has a de lightful and healthful climate, and its eco nomic resources have large possibilities. It is rather because it has natural strategic advantages of location and because it is inhabited by a wonderfully patriotic and warlike people, who have defended it against all comers. If we are not too particular in our anal ogies, Ethiopia might le called the Tibet of Africa. It has no Dalai Lama and no forbidden city of Lhasa, with its monas teries, but it does have a numerous reli gious people, ancient and isolated, living in a mountain stronghold on the top of a continent. It is not now exactly a closed territory *While the author prefers the well-known name Abyssinia and found that the natives cus tomarily referred to themselves as Abyssinians, the United States Government has adopted the name Ethiopia, in accordance with official Ethi opian sanction. Ancient Ethiopia of Greek and Roman geographers, the Biblical Cush, included various parts of North Africa, and applied espe cially to the District of Meroe, which is now a part of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. in the way that Tibet is, but it has been practically closed for long periods in the past and foreign travel within its borders has always been very limited.f In order to enter it, one must ask permission of the Ethiopians (Abyssinians) themselves, rather than of some European power. With Afghanistan and Siam, it is one of the three absolute monarchies left in the world. PEOPLED AT THE DAWN OF HISTORY The beginnings of Ethiopia go back to times of myth and legend. Unlike Egypt, with which some of its early history was doubtless connected, it has left only scanty and very imperfect records. That it was peopled from the north, perhaps from an cient Judea, with additions from Egypt and Arabia, is evident. The people, there fore, are Hamitic and Semitic in origin. As to when and how they arrived, there is much uncertainty. Apparently we may go back to Iooo B. C. with some degree of safety; but even here we have no solid ground of fact and, since it is a matter of speculation and inference anyway, there are those who are willing to believe in origins as remote as 5000 B. C. Among these are the Ethiopians themselves, whose pride of ancestry may perhaps be excused for being allowed to outweigh the accu racy of their historical chronicles. One of their most cherished traditions f See, also, "A Caravan Journey Through Abyssinia," by Harry V. Harlan, in the NA TIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for June, 1925.