Ethiopia and Greece: The Early Connections

Elizabeth A. Fisher


From literally the beginning of Greek literature, line 22 in Homer’s Odyssey, Ethiopia featured as a special place: where men were blameless and most reverent and the gods enjoyed feasts. Ethiopia was known as the source of the Nile River and a source for many exotic materials. Though ancient writers sometimes appear to have been unsure of the exact location of this far-off place, many of the ethnographic and geographic observations recorded by Greek and Latin authors about Ethiopia are detailed and accurate. The earliest connections of Greece and Ethiopia date to the Bronze Age. The first use of the word “Ethiopia” is found on clay tablets from Greece, dating to 1200 BC. Wall-paintings dating 400 years earlier than the tablets may record Greek participation in an expedition to the Land of Punt in the Horn of Africa. These early indications of contact between Greece and Ethiopia should point the way for new archaeological research.

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