Divine King or Sacrilegious Upstart? The Portrait of Emperor Yǝkunno Amlak in Gännätä Maryam

View of the interior of Gännätä Maryam. Photo: Jacopo Gnisci

Date: Mar 21, 2023 Time: 12:00 PM–1:30 PM Location: Zoom Address: ,

Jacopo Gnisci, University College London, explores the reign of Yǝkunno Amlak, the founder of the Solomonic dynasty.

In the third quarter of the thirteenth century Yǝkunno Amlak led a rebellion against the Zagwes – a line of Christian rulers who had been in control of most of the Empire of Ethiopia since at least the first half of the twelfth century. He initiated a line that would rule the country until the twentieth century: the Solomonic dynasty. Apart from these general facts, we know relatively little about the life of the first emperor of this dynasty. In this paper I hope to further our understanding of Yǝkunno Amlak’s reign and visual strategies by focusing on his only known contemporary portrait in the church of Gännätä Maryam. By analysing this image in its wider setting, I aim to shed some light on its socio-political background and reflect on the reactions it might have triggered.

This lecture will take place live on Zoom, followed by a question and answer period. Please register to receive the Zoom link. Registration opens February 21, 2023.

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An East of Byzantium lecture. EAST OF BYZANTIUM is a partnership between the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University and the Mary Jaharis Center that explores the cultures of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine empire in the late antique and medieval periods.