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Published by: Gidena Mesfin on May 21, 2012
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E.Littmann in Axum 1906: A FocalPoint and Start for theArchaeological-Historical Researchon an Ancient Capital
Helmut Ziegert2008
This article was pre-released online in 2008 and was supposed to bepublished in:Steffen
and Wolbert
In kaiserlichem Auftrag: DieDeutsche Aksum-Expedition 1906 unter Enno Littmann. Band2: Diewissenschaftlichen Unternehmungen der DAE in Aksum und Umgebung 
(Forschungen zur Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen Band3.2).Aichwald 2009Since it was not included in that publication in the end (for the reasons see
Post scriptum 
, p.11), it is now an individual online publication.
Last modified: July 14
, 2009.
1 Preface
E.Littmann’s mission to Axum 1906 was the first survey-documentation of visible an-tiquities, as remains reflecting the importance of this city in history 100 years later aconference remembering this occurrence was held in Mekele.For the main paper on the Littmann-mission R.Fattovich was invited by the organizerS.Uhlig; unfortunately he could not participate, and the colleague St.Wenig presented a1
E.Littmann in Axum 1906 Helmut Ziegert
shorter paper on this event. As the editor of the conference-papers St.Wenig asked theauthor to publish a paper on “E.Littmann and the following”; the author could not par-ticipate in the conference because of lectures in the Hamburg-University and activitiesfor the fieldwork in Axum, but the paper is presented here.
2 Introduction
Axum: a focus of research for political, social and religion history; of worldwide generaland individual interests; of importance for general knowledge and a problem for differentsubjects.
2.1 The topics
The topics of this paper are to explain the background of the historical research in andabout Axum for better understanding and to increase the interest;to explain the background of the different missions in orientation and methodology;to attract new missions for problemorientated archaeological-historical investigations inAxum.
2.2 The limits
The following paper shall present a general overview and description of the previ-ous orientation and standard of research, not a presentation of results; the latter willbe presented in a paper by M.Wendowski and H.Ziegert [
2.3 The research history
The research history shall not be an isolated description but shall explain the develop-ment of the activities in investigations. In Axum we can identify three phases:1. The E.Littmann-mission 1906, causing the international interest in Axum;2. many missions of traditional archaeology with “site-excavations”, directed mainlyby political interests of colonial states;3. the problemorientated archaeological-historical investigations of the “Hamburg Ar-chaeological Mission to Axum” (HAMA) 1999–2008, orientated by the historicalinterests in specific political and religious problems.2
E.Littmann in Axum 1906 Helmut Ziegert
2.4 The source material and its criticism
Sources of our knowledge are – beside the own results – the publications on the work of the foreign missions. These publications have a background influenced by the politicalinterests, the orientation of the missions, the methodological standard, and the accuracyof the work.We must know about these interests for a better understanding of the publications tocheck the real facts, and to know how we can use these mostly reduced results forhistorical reconstructions .
3 The “German Aksum Expedition” (DAE) 1906
To remember the “German Aksum Expedition” after 100 years there was held a confer-ence in Mekele.During an official visit of Emperor Menelik II. in Berlin he asked Emperor Wilhelm II.to send an archaeological Mission to Aksum, according to the historical traditions theorigin and base of the Ethiopian state.This fact is based on mentioning in the Bible and in detailed oral traditions documentedin the “Archive” of the monks in Axum till today.The example for such a mission were the German archaeological missions and excava-tions in the Near East.The Aksum Mission was carried out from January 13 to April 6, 1906.
3.1 The members
The members of the German Mission were Enno Littman, linguist and as the Head;Daniel Krencker, the architect; Theodor von Lüpke, architect and photographer; andErich Kaschke as a medical doctor. As we know now no archaeologist was integrated inthe team.
3.2 The inscriptions
According to the qualification of the team the documentation and translation of theinscriptions by E.Littmann was one of the main topics and results [published 1913] anda source for the history of Aksum till today.
3.3 Surveys and excavations
Before the German Mission 1906 there were only some photos from the Italian colonialera, no investigations with excavations. The German Mission brought first informationsalong the route from Asmara to Aksum: Debaroa, Adi Ugri, Adi Quala, Mareb, DaroTacle, Mai Camaul, Adua; and on the way back along the route from Aksum to Massaua:3

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