Articles in this series:
Series: Preserving History
Ethiopia’s Crumbling Historical Heritage
Last week we drew attention to the deplorable state of the former palace and royal church at Danqaz, one of Ethiopia’s principal early seventeenth century capitals. Today we turn to the unique church of Bahrey Gemb, some thirty kilometres south of Gondar, just off the highway to Bahr Dar.
This remarkable building, which dates back perhaps to the late eighteenth century, has long interested scholars. It is a structure of considerable importance for the reconstruction of Ethiopian history, and could well be a “tourist stop” for visitors to both Gondar and Lake Tana. People in many countries would give their eyes to possess so notable an antiquity.
The building is, however, being allowed to deteriorate. These photographs, recently taken by Rita Pankhurst, show that trees are being permitted to break their way into the walls, substantial parts of which have, over the centuries, already collapsed. Conservation work here, as on so many other Ethiopian antiquities, is urgently needed.
What, we must ask, are we going to do to preserve this valuable historic site?