Research on Medieval Ethiopia

  • I am currently in the process of completing a monograph which vastly expands on the topic first studied as part of my PhD thesis: preliminarily titled "Solomon's Heirs: Diplomacy, patronage and Western Christian Art in Ethiopia, 1400-1530", it explores medieval Ethiopia’s cultural, diplomatic, and artistic contacts with the Latin Christian Western World in the years directly leading up to the ‘European Age of Exploration’. In it, I focus on the interests and goals of the late medieval Ethiopian royal court in its unprecedented diplomatic outreach to Europe between 1400-1530 from an Ethiopian perspective, finding an interchange based on diplomatic interest, religious curiosity, and a desire to acquire ‘foreign’ Western religious material culture for Ethiopia. I read Ethiopia’s interest in the Latin West as part of a large-scale Solomonic Ethiopian endeavour to build, fund and endow numerous imperial monasteries and churches in the 15th and early 16th century with ‘foreign’ and ‘exotic’ goods from the Latin World. The book draws equally from written sources in Ethiopian and Mediterranean archives as well as a wide body of material culture sources of both Ethiopian and European provenance in the Ethiopian highland realm (among them panel paintings acquired by the Ethiopian court from places as far-flung as late-medieval Flanders and Germany, icons from post-Byzantine Crete, even special commissions such as painted enamels from Limoges) and is first to show the active involvement of an medieval African court within the same network of cultural and artistic exchanges long attested-to for Europe and parts of Asia. A partial manuscript has been through peer review with a major American university press; the full manuscript will be completed by fall of 2018.

  • Short film (in German) commissioned by the University of Konstanz on the occasion of being awarded the research prize by the "Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft" Foundation in October 2016. My second alma mater, Mekelle University, issued a statement on this occasion, too.




  • Interview 'Die Unbekannte Hochkultur', Jürgen Graf, uni'kon #66, March 2017 (PDF download, click to enlarge).

    Interview Verena Krebs
    Interview Verena Krebs
    Interview Verena Krebs