World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Agaw people

Article Id: WHEBN0002059991
Reproduction Date:

Title: Agaw people  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ethnic groups in Ethiopia, Kunama people, Cushi, Argobba people, Kingdom of Semien
Collection: Ethnic Groups in Ethiopia
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Agaw people

15th century icon of Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, the 12th century Agaw Zagwe dynasty King.
Regions with significant populations
 Ethiopia 764,000[1]
 Eritrea 110,000[2]
Agaw, Amharic
Christianity (Ethiopian · Eritrean · Catholic) Pagan-Hebraic · Judaism · Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups

The Agaw (Ge'ez አገው; Agaw; modern Agew) are an ethnic group inhabiting Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea. They speak Agaw languages, which belong to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family.


  • History 1
  • Language 2
  • Subgroups 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Bet Amanuel church in Lalibela, one of several rock-hewn churches built by the medieval Agaw Zagwe dynasty.

The Agaw are perhaps first mentioned in the 3rd-century AD Aksumite inscription recorded by Cosmas Indicopleustes in the 6th century. The inscription refers to a people called "Athagaus" (or Athagaous), perhaps from ʿAd Agaw, meaning "sons[4] of Agaw."[5] The Athagaous first turn up as one of the peoples conquered by the unknown king who inscribed the Monumentum Adulitanum.[6] The Agaw are later mentioned in an inscription of the 4th-century Aksumite King Ezana[5] and 6th-century King Kaleb. Based on this evidence, a number of experts embrace a theory first stated by Edward Ullendorff and Carlo Conti Rossini that they are the original inhabitants of much of the northern Ethiopian highlands, and were either forced out of their original settlements or assimilated by Semitic-speaking Tigray-Tigrinya and Amhara peoples.[7] Cosmas Indicopleustes also noted in his Christian Topography that a major gold trade route passed through the region "Agau". The area referred to seems to be an area east of the Tekezé River and just south of the Semien Mountains, perhaps around Lake Tana.[5]

They currently exist in a number of scattered enclaves, which include the Bilen in and around Keren in Eritrea; the Qemant and the Qwara, who live around Gondar in the Semien Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, west of the Tekezé River and north of Lake Tana; a number of Agaw live south of Lake Tana, around Dangila in the Agew Awi Zone of the Amhara Region; and another group live around Sokota in the former province of Wollo, now part of the Amhara Region, along its border with the Tigray Region.

The Cushitic speaking Agaw people ruled during the Zagwe dynasty of Ethiopia from about 900 to 1270. The name of the dynasty itself comes from the Ge'ez phrase Ze-Agaw (meaning "of Agaw"), and refers to the Agaw people.


The Agaw speak Agaw languages. They are a part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Many also speak Amharic, Tigrinya and/or Tigre, which are also Afro-Asiatic languages, but of the Semitic branch.


See also


  1. ^ "Awi". Joshua Project.  
  2. ^ "Bilen". Joshua Project.  
  3. ^ Joireman, Sandra F. (1997). Institutional Change in the Horn of Africa: The Allocation of Property Rights and Implications for Development. Universal-Publishers. p. 1.  
  4. ^ Herausgegeben von Uhlig, Siegbert, Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: A-C. Wiesbaden:Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003. pp117
  5. ^ a b c Herausgegeben von Uhlig, Siegbert. Encyclopaedia: A-C. pp. 142.
  6. ^ Munro-Hay, Stuart. Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity (Edinburgh: University Press, 1991), pp. 187
  7. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (1270 - 1527) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 26.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.