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Armed guard and obelisk Axum, Ethiopia Seldom visited by foreign tourists over the past few decades due to its continuing political problems, Ethiopia is most well known as being the possible cradle of humankind.Fossil remains (the famous Lucy) discovered in northeastern Ethiopia have been dated to roughly 3.5 million years, making them the earliest known example of an upright walking hominid.The oldest known stone tools, dating to 2.4 million years, were also found in this same region.But Ethiopia has numerous other claims to fame, including the mysterious granite obelisks of Axum, the extraordinary rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and - most enigmatic of all - the church of St.The tallest of the monoliths, now fallen and broken into six massive pieces, was 33.3 meters tall and weighed an estimated five tons (the largest Egyptian obelisk is that of King Tutmosis, 32.16 meters high and now standing in Rome).The tallest obelisk still standing at Axum today is 23 meters.The origins of the Axumite state are now dated to the middle of the 2nd century BC.
” What factors explain the remarkable grandeur of this church isolated so deep in the remote mountains of northern Ethiopia, so far from the orbit of Christianity?The Axumite rulers were in regular diplomatic and commercial contact with Egyptian, Greek, Byzantine and Persian empires.The achievements of this grand culture are recorded today in the ruins of its cities, reservoirs, temples and, most remarkably, its towering black granite obelisks.One explanation is that a rich king of a powerful empire built the great church.More compelling is the notion that it was built to house the fabled and enigmatic relic, the Holy Arc of the Covenant. Mary of Zion, Axum, Ethiopia The Arc of the Covenant and its supposedly divine contents are one of the great mysteries of antiquity. The traditional founder of Judaism, Moses was born in Egypt, the son of a Hebrew slave.