All posts by Mordechay Lewy

Mordechay Lewy, Ph. D.

The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian V: Conclusions

This is the last of five blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291 II. The north-east edge of the world on medieval mapsIII. The “thin-legged Ethopian” in muslim sources IV. The interplay of Muslim and Christian traditions V. Conclusions

In spite of the corrupted texts they rely however on the Hadith motif of the apocalyptic Abessinian. This hadith is embedded in the prophecy of Agap with three other Islamic apocalyptic motifs. The first is the cold wind Zamharir (Surah 76:13), misspelled as Zaniel (et a Zaniel, id est septemtrione, veniet ventus magnus).The second is the pregnant camel that did not find any water in the well which is called Zamzam (Et apparebit camela pascens et pregnans habens fetus et exibit aquam Zamzam nomen cisterne et non inveniet aquam claram ad bibendam). The origins of the motif of the she camel comes from Surah 81:4-( “when the pregnant camel shall be neglected”). The pregnant camel’s right to drink water from the well is mentioned in Surah 26:155-156. The third is the appearance of Mexadeigen (et apparebit postea Mexadeigen, id est Antichristus). This Mexadeigen is no other than latinised Masikh ad-Dajjal, the Islamic version of Antichrist. Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian V: Conclusions

The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian IV: The Interplay of Muslim and Christian Traditions

This is the fourth of five blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291 II. The north-east edge of the world on medieval mapsIII. The “thin-legged Ethopian” in muslim sources IV. The interplay of Muslim and Christian traditions V. Conclusions

The evidence of an existing Liber Clementis, written in Arabic with the Abessinian/Nubian motif is reported by Latin authors who were staying in Egypt with the crusading army in Damiette. During the 5th crusade, parts of the Liber Clementis, including several early Muslim motifs, such as the apocalyptic Abessinian, were translated and edited into Latin, Old French and Provençal upon the initiative of Cardinal Legate Pelagius. His military leadership sanctioned by the pope was contested by the king of Jerusalem. As a result he needed to strengthen his position. Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian IV: The Interplay of Muslim and Christian Traditions

The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian III: The “Thin-Legged Ethopian” in Muslim Sources

This is the third of five blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291 II. The north-east edge of the world on medieval mapsIII. The “thin-legged Ethopian” in muslim sources IV. The interplay of Muslim and Christian traditions V. Conclusions

There was however an additional reason to believe in the Abessinian ability to fight Muslims. There is a Hadith from an early Islamic tradition in which the apocalyptic Abessinian – Dhu’l  suwaqatayin  al Habaschi (the thin- legged Abessinian) takes part. The hadith states that an Abessinian will destroy the Ka’aba at the End of the Days after Jesus kills Gog and Magog. In all probability, this tradition reflects a traumatic memory from the year 570, in which an Abessinian invasion to Mecca using elephants failed. Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian III: The “Thin-Legged Ethopian” in Muslim Sources

The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian II: The Northeast Edge of the World

This is the second of five blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291 II. The north-east edge of the world on medieval mapsIII. The “thin-legged Ethopian” in muslim sources IV. The interplay of Muslim and Christian traditionsV. Conclusions
SLIDE4 Psalter world map in London, British Library Ms. Add. 28681. fol. 9r (detail). Public Domain.

The prototype of an apocalyptical area, which can be traced in 15 out of 37 medieval encyclopaedic world maps, is the Northeast edge of the world. The other 22 world maps belong mostly to the type of the Beatus Liebana maps which do not specify a certain direction where from Gog and Magog will invade the world. Those maps are following the text of Revelation 20:8, in which Satan will deceive the nations of Gog and Magog from the four quarters of the earth. Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian II: The Northeast Edge of the World

The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian I: Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291

The apocalyptic Abessinian: The Transfer of an early Islamic motif to Europe

My presentation deals mainly with the following questions:

  1. This is the first of five blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291 II. The north-east edge of the world on medieval mapsIII. The “thin-legged Ethopian” in muslim sources IV. The interplay of Muslim and Christian traditions V. Conclusions

    How was the Christian eschatological anticipation of the End of the World expressed in medieval world maps?

  2. How could the Horn of Africa in medieval world maps became an eschatological area directed against Islam?
  3. How could an early Islamic apocalyptic motif find its way to anti-Islamic crusader prophecies?

The goal of my dissertation is to detect cartographic evidence in order to substantiate the notion of an apocalyptic area prevailing in the Horn of Africa. At the same time a critical examination of textual sources is undertaken in order to reconstruct the transfer of an apocalyptic early Islamic motif until its incorporation in Latin prophecies of the 5th crusade and its further embedding in the recuperatio literature after the loss of Acre. Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian I: Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291

The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian (Abstract)

The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian: From Early Islamic hadith to Prophecies during the 5th Crusade

Ziel der Arbeit ist es textuelle und kartografische Belege zu finden,  die eine bislang unbeachtete eschatologische Gefahrenzone am Horn von Afrika so gut wie möglich begründen. Die Arbeit beruht auf zwei Säulen: eine textuelle und eine kartografische Beweisführung. Meine Ausführungen werden sich hier auf den kartografischen Teil beschränken. Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian (Abstract)

The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian (Abstract)

The motif of the apocalyptic Abessinian: From early Islamic hadith to European prophecies during the 5th crusade in Damiette.

My Ph.D. thesis touches three elements which are characteristic of the medieval outlook:

  • the Christian eschatological anticipation of the End of the World;
  • how to express this anticipation within a spatial configuration in medieval world maps;
  • how the attitude towards Islam was shaped within the effort to regain the Holy Land.
  • It should be noted that Latin texts until the 14th century seldomly differenciated between Ethiopia and Nubia due to their limited geographical horizon and lack of European contact with Africa in general and with Horn of Africa in particular. Furthermore, biblical knowledge regarded Ethiopia as being Kush in the south of Egypt. The term Nubia was unknown in Antiquity. It was introduced through Arab astrology just as Abessinia is derived from the Arabic al-Habasha. In classical geography Ethiopia was the third part of India and the border between Asia and Africa was the Nile.

Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian (Abstract)