The scope of the Encyclopaedia Aethiopica
The EAe covers a large scope of subjects in various spheres of knowledge, ranging from scientific to linguistic issues, from anthropological studies to arts, such that it would be helpful for a researcher involved in any of the covered fields. The major themes and fields incorporated are:
I. Basic data:
The field of “Basic data” covers such aspects as demographics, economics, geography (from climate and ecology to the description of cities, regions, rivers, lakes and mountains of the Horn), geology, biology (flora, fauna), medicine and related topics.
This field deals with the history of the peoples of the Horn, starting with the human origins and prehistory. It includes the treatment of the classical Ethiopian civilisations, Aksum and the Aksumite Empire, the Zagwe era, the first Šäwa period 1270-1541, the development of Eastern Islamic states, the Tana-Gondär period in 1541-1769, the Era of the Princes 1769-1855 and the formation of modern Ethiopia (from Tewodros to Haylä Sellase, 1855-1974) and other countries of the Horn. Great attention is paid to the history of the Oromo, and to Ethio-European contact and confrontation.
The same field includes research in archaeology, numismatics, epigraphics, studies in manuscripts, manuscript illumination and palaeography.
There is also a broad spectrum of entries devoted to economic and social history, the first group embracing the development of crafts and craftsmen, trade and traders, money and money matters (taxation, banking), industrialisation, and the second treating social stratification, history of political systems and ideas (concepts of legitimacy etc.), foreign contacts and relations, military and legal history, education (from traditional Christian and Muslim education and missionary schools to modern education).
Apart from such internal processes the EAE also deals with the history of explo-ration and research and the changes in other countries’ perception of Ethiopia and the region.
III. Languages / Linguistics:
The EAe scope fully covers the language families of the Horn (Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic, Nilo-Saharan) and their constituent languages; it also treats the peculiarities of the European, Near Eastern, and Asian languages in the region as well as the areal phenomena, literacy and alphabetisation.
The EAe articles reflect research in the fields of Ge`ez literature (including the Ge`ez literature of the Betä Isra'el), Amharic, Harari, Tigrinya, Tigre, Gurage, Oromo and Somali literature. They also treat Arabic literature in Ethiopia and Eritrea and oral literature(s).
V. Ethnography / Ethnology
This field is devoted to the study of the peoples of the Horn (both general surveys on groups, relations in past and present, processes of ethnogenesis and ethnological and historical sketches on individual peoples as well as on indigenous religions). A considerable proportion of articles deals with specific attributes of the material culture of the nations.
VI. Persons / Individuals
The Encyclopaedia describes the important figures, including both local, regional and national rulers, religious lead-ers and those who contributed to the culture of the region.
The articles connected to Christianity and the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahedo Church are the focus of this field. They deal with the Bible and biblical interpretations, dogma and internal controversies, ecclesiastical ranks, hierarchy, church literature, liturgies, feasts and customs, hagiography, monastic traditions and the influences of other religions. The problems of early contact and arising contro-versies with European Christianity and conflicts between the Church and the State are also covered.
Great attention is paid to the missions and missionary history. Catholicism, Protestantism and its various denomina-tions, missionary churches and their role in the Horn are covered in depth.
Another focus of the Religion field is Betä Isra'el: their genesis, literature, feasts and customs.
The third major focus is Islam: pre-Islamic contacts between Ethiopia and Arabia, early islamization, the medieval Islamic sultanates (the 16th century wars and the integration into Imperial Ethiopia), Muslim saints and hagiography, literature, feasts and customs, the present state of religion.
It goes without saying that the EAe cannot but include detailed information on the local religions of north-east Africa: Zar, syncretism and magical practices all find their reflection in the lexicon.
VIII. The Arts
This field is devoted to the history and characteristics of the arts in Ethiopia and neighbouring countries. It is painting with its periodization, motifs, styles, influ-ences, techniques, but also individual artists. It is also architecture and of course music, both ecclesiastical and secular, with its genres and instruments that are in the centre of attention for the authors of the articles belonging to this field of enquiry.