The kings of Aksum formally became Christian during the second quarter of the 4th century, making Ethiopia the second country in the world (after Armenia) officially to adopt the new faith. This landmark book is the first to integrate historical, archaeological, and art-historical evidence to provide a comprehensive account of Ethiopian Christian civilization and its churches--both built and rock-hewn--from the Aksumite period to the 13th century. David W. Phillipson, a foremost authority on Ethiopia's archaeology, situates these churches within the development of Ethiopian society, illuminating the exceptional continuity of the country's Christian civilization. He offers a fresh view of the processes which gave rise to this unique African culture as well as the most detailed treatment of the rock-hewn churches at Lalibela World Heritage Site ever published. Abundantly illustrated, filled with original insights, and incorporating new chronological findings, this book will be of enormous interest to a wide international circle of students, scholars, and travelers.