A lot of things were found both from the “prehistoric” era, and from more modern ones. At least the fact that A. Pushkin's ancestor, Hannibal, comes from this country, and not from Ethiopia (and not from Cameroon with Chad, according to other versions). There is also an opinion that the village of “arap” was a village near the capital of Eritrea, Asmery. An idea arose for the government of an African country to make a museum of the Hannibal in the capital and put up a monument to the poet. The Eritrean ambassador last year took home the land from the grave of A. Pushkin.
It seems that Eritrea was much better informed in antiquity than it is now. Egyptian pharaohs sent expeditions there. There could also be the legendary Punt Land, or “The Land of the Gods” (after all, the Egyptians considered it the birthplace of their gods) - the treasury of the Horn of Africa, where caravans loaded with slaves and also spices, frankincense, ivory, ebony, black paint were sent from there for eyes, incense and gold. One of the expeditions was organized in the XXV century BC. And the most famous expedition was equipped by order of Queen Hatshepsut (this expedition is reflected in the reliefs of the temple in Deir el-Bahri in Egypt).
At least, the British Encyclopedia relates the legendary land to the territory of Eritrea. And now the country is one of the poorest in the world, about 80% of the population needs food aid. Humanitarian aid ships are constantly moored in the port, and the wives of Russian diplomats grow tomato cucumbers from imported seeds on the apartments' balconies.
There are amazing archaeological finds. In the tiny village of Matara (Metera) a unique stele was found - a vertical column with inscriptions and pre-Christian symbols (a world heritage monument), an underground tunnel, incomprehensible and empty ancient graves. Archaeologists believe that no more than 5−10% of what is still waiting for their researchers were found.
There is a sacred baobab. Sometime right in a tree a nun built a chapel, now known as the baobab Madonna. During the Second World War, Italian soldiers were hiding from the British planes in a tree, and now some woman is making coffee under it. They say that this woman thus expresses a desire to have a family. If a passing man drinks this coffee, then the woman’s desire will soon come true, and wisdom and prosperity will descend on the traveler.
The name Eritrea itself is of Greek origin, meaning red. It was also part of the vast kingdom of Aksum, a Christian state of the II-XI centuries, which competed with Byzantium. It was the first country to make a cross on its coins. According to ancient testimonies, Christianity came here by chance: once a merchant ship from then Christian Syria sank near the Red Sea.
Over the next centuries, very little information was available about Eritrea: tribes professing Islam. With the expansion of Persia, Axum was destroyed. Only by the XVI century the world learned about the existence of a kingdom somewhere called Abyssinia. The opposition to the coming Muslims was also provided by the Portuguese occasionally, then the Italians. What is interesting is that both of them are Catholics, but the orthodox (Orthodox) church managed to survive in these conditions.
Egyptians, Turks, Italians ruled the territory. The Italians, as allies of Germany, were beaten out by British troops, who, in turn, later exercised their rule. In 1952, Eritrea became part of Ethiopia. And then the bloody 30-year war of independence from Ethiopia began. Independence was recognized all over the world, and two old guerrilla commanders signed the treaty with Ethiopia: the former president of Ethiopia and the current one - Eritrea. Then again there was hostilities on both sides, and still there is not very calm.
Eritrea has not yet risen since the last wars. Despite all the help, despite the search for oil. Despite the fact that it could exist on money from tourism (it’s not only in the sights - it’s also the amazing coast of the Red Sea). But for now, too many of their internal problems. Both economic and political.
Such a small, uncrowded (less than 4 million inhabitants), but a multinational country, all ethnic groups are very different from each other. The largest group is tigrinya, their language is most often used in the local media. By religion, the country is divided into two almost equal groups: Sunni Muslims and Christians of different denominations, one of which is Coptic Orthodox. The priests, on the one hand, respectively, speak Arabic, on the other - the archaic language Geez (Old Ethiopian) - it is used in services. Schools learn English.
Most of the Copts are concentrated in one region of Africa. About the Copts of Egypt and Ethiopia, the world is aware enough. It is much more difficult with another country, about which not everyone will immediately remember - this is Eritrea. And the Eritrean Copts are deeply religious people and celebrate all their holidays. And necessarily and solemnly - 11 September - The Day of the Holy Martyrs, he New Year (Kiddus Johannes). The same New Year is a holiday in Ethiopia.
There are legends, very few literary works, there is one opera by the old Venetian composer F. Cavalli "Eritrea" (1652), but there is a completely baroque-fabulous plot. Still very little is known about this country in northeastern Africa. All the most important excavations are still ahead, tremendous finds - probably also.
Not a country - a great mystery. Was there the famous and richest land of Punt? Did the Virgin Mary stay there in the cave with her son Jesus (now an ancient but active monastery stands on a mountain on a very decent height)? And what hides the desert land of Dancalia?
And finally, was Pushkin's ancestor born there?
The article used photos from www.eritrea.be.