Ethiopia (Gr. from to burn, and countenance), an ancient country of Africa, south of Egypt. The name was also used by the Greeks as an ethnic designation of all dark-complexioned races in Africa and Asia. The tribes most frequently mentioned were the Blemmyes, Megabari, Ichthyophagi or fish-eaters, Macrobii or long-lived, and Troglodytes or cave-dwellers. As late as the time of Darius we find " Ethiopians of Asia " forming part of the 17th satrapy. - Ethiopia proper was bounded N. by Egypt, W. by the desert of Bahiuda, E. by the river Astaboras, and S. by the districts above the modern city of Khartoom, at the junction of the Blue river and the White Nile. In a wider sense, ancient geographers designated as Ethiopia the whole region between the Red sea and the Atlantic ocean, S. of Libya and Egypt. Pliny divides it by the Nile into East and West Ethiopia. Ethiopia proper included the state of Meroe, which was probably centred in the modern Sennaar; and as the city of Meroe became the capital of the land during the Meroe dynasty, the whole of Ethiopia was sometimes spoken of as the kingdom of Meroe. Another Ethiopian capital was Napata, which was probably in the neighborhood of Mount Barkal; but there is reason for supposing that this word designated a movable royal residence rather than a fixed locality. - The early history of the country is obscure.
About 3,000 years before our era a considerable branch of the Cushite race, who had probably dwelt in Hedjaz, Arabia, crossed the Red sea, and settled in Ethiopia, the land of Napata and Meroe, till then inhabited by negroes. These regions of the upper Nile were from that time designated as the land of Cush. (See Cush.) Other Cushites, called Sabaeans, established themselves further south on the coast of Africa, opposite Yemen. The northern Cushites soon mixed with the negroes and Egyptians, and acquired peculiarities in type and language which separated them from the kindred race on the coast. As early as the 12th Egyptian dynasty (about 3000-2850 B. C.) they seem to have grown dangerous to the Egyptians, as the fortresses of Kumneh and Semneh were built near the second cataract of the Nile to oppose them. Several steles recently found show that Osor-tasen III. conquered them, and in the tomb of Ameni, one of his generals, is an account of the campaign and his subsequent administration of the new province. The Ethiopian history of the thousand years following has not yet come to light.
During the 17th century B. C. (according to the chronology of Mariette), the Ethiopians were again at war with the Egyptians. Amen-hotep I. (Amenophis) was not as successful as Thothmes I., his successor, who left a description of his exploits on the rocks on the banks of the Nile, opposite the island of Tombos, about lat. 19° 30' N. The Ethiopians remained quiet for about two centuries, but rebelled again at the beginning of the 15th century, and were subdued by Har-em-Hebi, who, according to an inscription at Silsilis," chastised the land of Cush as he had promised his father." In the time of Rameses II. the Ethiopians revolted again, and with them the negro tribes of Libya that had been subject to Egypt; but after long and bloody wars they were again subdued. In the subsequent period the country was nearly every year invaded by the Egyptians, who came on a sort of slave-hunting expedition, and carried away thousands of every age and of both sexes. At the invasion of Egypt by the descendants of the shepherds, Merneptah (1341-1321 B. C.) sought with 300,000 men an asylum in Ethiopia, and remained there till his son Seti II., 20 years later, regained the throne.
The Ethiopian king Azerkh-Amen (the Zerah of Scripture) invaded Egypt during the reign of Uasar-ken I. (or of Uasarken II.), and penetrated into Palestine, where he was finally conquered about 941 by Asa, king of Judah. His defeat was so complete that he seems not even to have maintained his position in Egypt, but to have retired at once to his kingdom. Two centuries later, however, the kings of Ethiopia gained the crown of Egypt. Shabaka, the Sabaco of the Greeks and the So of the Bible, conquered all Egypt to the Mediterranean, and burned alive the king Bokenranf. Shabaka was subsequently called on by Hoshea,kingof Israel, for assistance against the Assyrians; but he started too late to save Samaria, though an inscription at Karnak names Syria as tributary to him. A little later Tahraka (Tirhakah) successfully fought the army of Sennacherib, but warded off the danger for a short time only, for Esarhaddon entered Egypt and conquered him near Memphis. Esarhaddon remained two years in the country, and entitled himself " king of Egypt and Ethiopia" (669). Tahraka reconquered the whole Nile valley, but was not able to maintain his supremacy against the troops of Asshur-bani-pal, and retreated beyond the cataracts.
The insurrection that broke out soon after in the Delta gave Tahraka another opportunity to descend the Nile, and he drove out the Assyrians. Necho, the general of Asshur-bani-pal, regained the Delta, and Rot-Amen, son-in-law of Tahraka, succeeded only to the thrones of Thebes and Napata. He put to death Necho, whom he had taken captive in a battle for the possession of the Delta, but was finally driven back to his Ethiopian states by Asshur-bani-pal, who came in person to reconquer Lower Egypt. Rot-Amen died without direct heirs, and Amen-meri-Nut, who was probably only distantly related to him, was proclaimed king.
He entered Egypt with a large army, and claimed the sovereignty. He was gladly received at Thebes, but the chiefs of the Delta united against him, and a bloody battle was fought before he entered Memphis. Amen-meri-Nut does not seem to have cared greatly for the crown of Egypt, for after receiving an immense tribute from the princes of the Delta, he withdrew to his country. The Ethiopian kings continued in possession of the Thebaid during the time of the dodecarchy in Lower Egypt. Amen-iritis, the queen whom Piankhi II., the successor of Amen-meri-Nut, had married to legitimate his occupancy of the Ethiopian throne, seems to have been a woman of superior merit, and, being charged with the regency of Egypt under three successive Ethiopian kings, rendered herself very popular in the Thebaid. Her daughter Shap-en-ap became the wife of Psammetik I. (Psammetichus, 664-610), who in alliance with the Greeks had dethroned the 11 kings his colleagues, and ruled over Lower Egypt. The favors which this king bestowed on foreigners offended the military class, and they emigrated in a body of 200,000 men to Ethiopia, where they formed a separate colony.
The Ethiopians soon after had to resist an invasion by Psammetik II. (Psammis, 594-588), the successor of Necho II., who had married his own aunt, Net-aker, daughter of Shap-en-ap, in order to create a right to the Ethiopian sovereignty. After the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses in 525, the Ethiopians were also threatened with being absorbed in the great Persian empire. A numerous force, led by Cambyses, marched toward their frontier, but had to return; for leaving the banks of the Nile, and attempting to cross the Nubian desert, the army nearly perished with famine. The Ethiopians were left unmolested by Darius (521-486), who was satisfied with receiving from them a very small tribute. They sent to Persia every third year 4 pints of gold dust, 200 logs of ebony, 5 negro slaves, and 20 tusks of ivory. When Egypt was ruled by the Ptolemies, the arts and enterprise of the Greeks also entered Ethiopia, and led to the overthrow of the tyranny of the priests, and to the founding of Hellenic trading posts on the coast of the Red sea. Ptolemy Euergetes (247-222) conquered the southern country, and set up a throne of white marble with an inscription of his conquests. The Ethiopians soon regained their independence.
During the reign of Augustus they advanced under their queen Candace as far as the Roman garrisons at Philae, where Petro-nius, the legate of the prefect of Egypt, AElius Gallus, repulsed them and pursued them to the neighborhood of Napata. But it appears that the Romans did not enter into possession of any part of Ethiopia, and that Augustus remitted the tribute. The influx of Arabs must have been very great, for at this period the population of Ethiopia is frequently spoken of as Arabian. For the history of the country during our era, see Abyssinia. - The monuments of Ethiopia are in part of a decidedly Egyptian character. Many temples have been found wholly or partly hewn in the rocks of the mountains. Tombs are not frequent. Near Mount Barkal are the remains of several pyramids, which differ from the Egyptian in being much higher proportionally to the base. Higher up the river the monuments are wholly Ethiopian in style, and indicate the great wealth and culture of the ancient nation. Lepsius gives a detailed description of them.
He found in all 30 names of kings and queens, and it appears that the kings were at the same time high priests of Ammon. The eldest son seems to have inherited the throne, unless the wife of the king should survive, in which case the succession fell to her. The crown prince during the lifetime of his father was a second high priest of Ammon. The worship of Ammon and Osiris was carried, according to Herodotus, from Meroe to Egypt, and the temple of Kar-nak and several Nubian monuments seem to commemorate this migration. The constant intercourse of the Ethiopians with the Egyptians renders it probable that the two nations had many points of agreement in manners and customs. (See Egypt.)