Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jewish) Monastic Sites North of Lake Tana - Preliminary Results of an Exploratory Field Trip to Ethiopia in December 2015

Bar Kribus, Verena Krebs


This paper presents results of the first field trip aimed at locating and studying the remains of Beta Israel1 (Ethiopian Jewish) monasteries, as part of an ongoing research project aimed at shedding light on Beta Israel monasticism. Prior to this field trip, no Beta Israel monastery had ever been mapped, and no study focused on these monasteries has ever been conducted. On the trip, two former Beta Israel villages north of Lake Tana were examined: Amba Gwalit and Aṭeyä. At Amba Gwalit, the remains of a Beta Israel holy site, which may have been a monastery containing a synagogue and surrounded by an enclosure wall, were documented. In a nearby Beta Israel cemetery, the tomb of a well-known Beta Israel monk was found. At Aṭeyä, remains of well-preserved Beta Israel dwellings were examined. Both sites demonstrated that Beta Israel material culture in Ethiopia is sufficiently preserved to enable further research aimed at locating and examining Beta Israel monasteries.


Ethiopian Jews; Beta Israel; Falasha; monasticism; monasteries; Lake Tana; Gonder

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Copyright (c) 2018 Bar Kribus, Verena Krebs

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Published by:  Sponsored by: 
Käte Hamburger KollegCentrum für Religionswissenschaftliche Forschung (CERES) Bundesministerium für Bildung und ForschungOpen Access