Ethiopian Itineraries, Circa 1400-1524

Ethiopian Itineraries, Circa 1400-1524

Ethiopian Itineraries, Circa 1400-1524

Ethiopian Itineraries, Circa 1400-1524

Excerpt

Some explanation of the origins of the present publication seems desirable. When I was writing my history of the Fung Kingdom of Sennar (Bellows, 1951) I searched the ancient records of Ethiopia (so far as they were available in translations) for any references there might be to that kingdom. Though some were found the results were hardly commensurate with the labour involved; but as so often happens in research a new interest was aroused, particularly in the historical geography of Ethiopia. In the course of my studies I came across the Itineraries here published and began to try to identify the routes followed. The Zorzi Itineraries seemed particularly important because of the abundance of place-names given. Though published in 1943 by that great Ethiopic scholar Conti Rossini, it appeared, from a comparison with photostats of the manuscript in Florence, that his transcript contained many errors, partly due to difficulties imposed by war conditions, as he himself says (1943, p. 176, note). Zorzi's handwriting is not good but it is consistent; and if circumstances had allowed Conti Rossini would surely have removed these imperfections. We corresponded and I am grateful to him for all the offprints he gave me and for other help. But we did not discuss the subject of these Itineraries.

The method adopted here has been to make a completely fresh transcript from photostats; the text was then translated into English by my colleague Ralegh Radford to whom I had already supplied a rough draft. He also checked the transcript.

The Zorzi Itineraries are important because they give a fairly detailed account of Ethiopian geography as it was before the country was overrun in the sixteenth century by the armies of Granh and by the Gallas. During those disastrous times churches were burnt and villages destroyed. The Galla invasions were the more annihilating, for new names in another language were given to some districts and places, and many of . . .

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