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Prospectively acquired Canadian cerebrospinal fluid samples were used to assess the performance characteristics of three ante-mortem tests commonly used to support diagnoses of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. The utility of the end-point quaking-induced conversion assay as a test for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease diagnoses was compared to that of immunoassays designed to detect increased amounts of the surrogate markers 14-3-3γ and hTau. The positive predictive values of the end-point quaking-induced conversion, 14-3-3γ, and hTau tests conducted at the Prion Diseases Section of the Public Health Agency of Canada were 96%, 68%, and 66%, respectively.
Two Armenian ecclesiastics from Jerusalem, Isaac and Dimothéos, visited Abyssinia in 1867–1869. The latter’s detailed account of their journey was promptly published, grandiloquently dedicated (with formal permission) to Queen Victoria. The journey has nonetheless received little attention from historians, and the reasons it was made have been poorly understood. An intention to seek release of Europeans imprisoned by King Tewodros (Theodore) of Ethiopia was overtaken by events, the captives’ release being achieved by an expedition from British India before the Armenians arrived. Emphasis was consequently placed on involvement with local politics and ecclesiastical intrigue, both of which are discussed in this paper.
Increasing longevity and the strain on state and occupational pensions have brought into question long-held assumptions about the age of retirement, and raised the prospect of a workplace populated by ageing workers. In the United Kingdom the default retirement age has gone, incremental increases in state pension age are being implemented and ageism has been added to workplace anti-discrimination laws. These changes are yet to bring about the anticipated transformation in workplace demographics, but it is coming, making it timely to ask if the workplace is ready for the ageing worker and how the extension of working life will be managed. We report findings from qualitative case studies of five large organisations located in the United Kingdom. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with employees, line managers, occupational health staff and human resources managers. Our findings reveal a high degree of uncertainty and ambivalence among workers and managers regarding the desirability and feasibility of extending working life; wide variations in how older workers are managed within workplaces; a gap between policies and practices; and evidence that while casualisation might be experienced negatively by younger workers, it may be viewed positively by financially secure older workers seeking flexibility. We conclude with a discussion of the challenges facing employers and policy makers in making the modern workplace fit for the ageing worker.
It is often argued that northward trade in gold from sub-Saharan West Africa began after the establishment of Islamic control late in the seventh century ad. This paper questions that conclusion, and suggests that minting at Carthage of the Byzantine gold coins known as globular solidi was related to the acquisition of metal through developing trans-Saharan contacts. Political developments in the late sixth century may have interrupted the supply of gold to Byzantine Carthage; this problem intensified during the following decades when production of globular solidi began. It is suggested that trans-Saharan imports comprised gold that was cast, for export and apparently also for local circulation, at Tadmekka in north-eastern Mali and perhaps elsewhere, into lumps of standardised weight calculated to meet the needs of the Byzantine mint at Carthage. Preliminary archaeometallurgical investigations provide some degree of support for this hypothesis, and further analyses are planned that may identify the sources of the gold minted in seventh-century Carthage. If and when such detail becomes available, it may have major implications for our understanding of the nature and instigation of ancient trans-Saharan connections.
This chapter surveys the lamentably incomplete evidence that is available about the inhabitants of the northern Horn during the period immediately preceding the appearance of literate complex societies early in the first millennium BC. There are indications that at least some sections of the region's population may have practised a farming lifestyle, but much of the evidence is secondary, comprising inferences from later trends. It was not until the 1970s that archaeologists working in the northern Horn began to take an interest in ancient domestic economies, and not until the 1990s that concerted efforts were made to recover materials on which their reconstruction might be based. Economic matters were only rarely recorded in traditional histories, whether transmitted orally or in written form. In the absence of primary information, other sources were perforce emphasised.
Ancient visitors to the region noted relevant details only tangentially, and it was not until the sixteenth century that travellers began to arrive who were interested in recording conditions that prevailed in other than political spheres, and in the day-to-day lifestyles of the rural inhabitants. Such visitors were, in contrast to their predecessors, often particularly concerned with the possibilities of religious conversion, settlement by missionaries or exploitation of natural resources. Plants, animals and foodstuffs were often described by comparison with those about which the visitors were already knowledgeable, and the resultant terminology may be incorrect or difficult to interpret. It is tempting to take the conditions observed between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries as reflecting those of earlier times, but caution is needed.
Since much of our information about Aksumite politics is derived from what was essentially royal propaganda, it is not surprising – although nonetheless unfortunate – that we know very little about the lower levels of administration.
There can be no reasonable doubt that the prime authority in the Aksumite state was that of the king. For reasons set out in Chapter 7, the hypothesis that the Zoscales mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea was a first-century king of Aksum is not accepted here. The earliest incontrovertible and dateable mention of an Aksumite king dates about 150 years later and occurs, not at Aksum itself, but on an inscribed copper-alloy object (Fig. 23) found in a cache at Addi Gelamo in the eastern highlands of Tigray. The inscription (RIE 180), which seems to have been incised into the object after it had been cast, is in Ge'ez, using an early form of unvocalised Ethiopic script read from left to right; it mentions GDR NGSY KSM [= GDR, king of Aksum]. Note that, at this early period, the king of Aksum already bore the title negus (cf. below). It is tempting, but not wholly convincing, to equate this individual with an Aksumite ruler called GDRT, known from inscriptions in southern Arabia of roughly the same period. Southern Arabian inscriptions name three further individuals as kings of Aksum, but give no indication that they exercised political control – as opposed to more transitory influence – over Arabian territory.
In the study of Aksumite civilisation, a disproportionate emphasis has been placed by archaeologists on the burials of the élite. This is not hard to explain: such interments were marked by the most impressive of Aksum's surviving monuments, and their investigation has – despite the frequency with which such prominent tombs have long ago been robbed – yielded artefacts and information of great significance. Until recently, however, the position that the élite and their monuments occupied in ancient Aksumite society was poorly contextualised, since little attention had been paid to their less prosperous contemporaries and to the basic economic underpinning of the state. The information at our disposal is almost totally archaeological.
As noted in Chapter 7, one of the earliest recognised signs of the transfer of settlement from Beta Giyorgis hill to the site of Aksum is the series of burial platforms at the foot of the southern slope of Beta Giyorgis. These platforms, now buried beneath a considerable thickness of later accumulation, grew to constitute a terrace in the area that now forms the northern half of the Stelae Park. Archaeological investigation in 1973–74 revealed traces of a series of repeatedly extended platforms with associated graves, at least some of which had been marked by stelae; there were indications that these features dated back as early as the first century AD. It was probably during the latter part of the third century that the process began of creating further tombs which – like the stelae that marked them – far exceeded in size and grandeur anything produced previously in the northern Horn.
The aim of this book is to present a critical outline of current knowledge about the peoples who inhabited the highlands of what is now northern Ethiopia and adjacent parts of Eritrea during the period between about 3000 and 700 years ago (Fig. 1). It devotes most detailed attention to the Aksumite civilisation that flourished during the first seven centuries AD but, in order to provide context, it also provides overviews of earlier and later periods within the same general region. The cut-off point at which the book's treatment ends is c. AD 1270, when major changes accompanied the establishment of the so-called Solomonic dynasty. Overall, this was the period that saw the gradual development, from a subsistence-farming base established long previously, of a complex literate civilisation whose people erected some of the largest and most elaborate monoliths the world has ever seen, issued a unique coinage in copper, silver and gold, practised sophisticated metallurgy, ivory carving and manuscript illumination, established their rule over extensive surrounding territory including part of the Arabian peninsula, developed trade links extending from the western Mediterranean in one direction to Sri Lanka in the other, and whose Christian rulers were sought as political as well as religious allies by successive Roman and Byzantine emperors, while also maintaining the subsistence-farming, domestic architecture, and stone-tool technological traditions of their local forbears. It is now increasingly recognised that this civilisation in turn gave rise – far more strongly and directly than previously recognised – to the Christian civilisation that flourished in these highlands during more recent centuries.
Following the decline of Aksum's successor kingdom in eastern Tigray, or its rulers' loss of authority, a period of fluidity is indicated. It is not possible to estimate with any confidence when or for how long this situation prevailed, but it would be plausible to place it in or around the eleventh century when (as argued in Chapter 16) major changes seem to have taken place. Eventually, a new centralised authority was established; it was based, not in Tigray, but further to the south in what is now Amhara Region – more precisely, in the mountains of Lasta east and north of the upper Takezze river. In due course, if not initially, its political centre was at Adefa near the ecclesiastical establishment called Roha – subsequently renamed Lalibela after the famous king. This authority was in the hands of a dynasty, recalled in historical tradition under the name Zagwe, which probably originated – as its name has been held to imply – among Cushitic-speaking Agau peoples. The Zagwe, however, soon adopted Christianity – if they had not already done so – and, at least in some contexts, the Semitic speech of Aksum. Indeed, as is argued below, the Zagwe seem to have been as keen to stress their Aksumite credentials as their opponents and successors were in later times to deny them.
By the middle decades of the sixth century, economic decline was becoming apparent in the northern Horn, most noticeably in the area around Aksum itself. The overall population of the capital area diminished sharply. Several of Aksum's grand buildings fell into disrepair and were apparently occupied by squatters. Use of the Gobedra quarries to provide the materials for massive masonry came to an abrupt end, to judge from the number of blocks that were abandoned after extraction had begun. The coinage suffered a marked reduction both in technical quality and in metallurgical fineness, accompanied by a proliferation of tiny base-metal issues that may indicate inflation and reduction in living standards. Detailed interpretation of this last point is hindered by continuing uncertainty surrounding the sequence of reigns and coinage issues between the mid-sixth and mid-seventh centuries, as discussed in Chapter 14, but the most likely picture appears to be that debasement of the gold accelerated during the third quarter of the sixth century, followed shortly afterwards by the proliferation of small copper coins.
The expansion of Aksum and its population during the fourth century and – perhaps to a lesser extent – the fifth is indicated by archaeological survey, results obtained by Michels in the 1970s being supported by those of more recent fieldwork based on more precise chronological indicators. This concentration probably resulted in serious depletion of resources, notably timber, accompanied by environmental deterioration. A rapid and pronounced depopulation followed. This may have been partly due to reduced carrying capacity of the local environment, but other factors probably contributed.
Writing this book has emphasised not only what we know but what we do not. In this epilogue I shall attempt to offer some guidelines that future researchers and administrators may find useful. I hope that these suggestions may be of particular interest to the increasing numbers of Ethiopian and Eritrean scholars who are embarking on careers involving the study of their countries' past and the preservation of its remains. Of course, what cannot be taken into account is the chance unanticipated discovery such as the Almaqah temple at Maqaber Ga'ewa near Wukro, described in Chapter 3. Situations such as that emphasise the need for trained, locally-based archaeologists who can undertake rescue investigations, as the Tigray Tourism and Culture Commission was fortunately able to do at Wukro. How many other important discoveries are being lost without record as the range and scale of development increases? The cost of a local archaeological service would be minute in comparison with that of the development works whose impact it could serve to mitigate – or even to exploit. In many countries, the cost of such mitigation is regarded as an integral part of the development budget, but one that has far-reaching benefits for tourism.
The arrangement of the following twelve chapters is thematic. While Chapter 7, on emergence, and Chapter 16, on decline and transformation, are principally concerned with the earlier and later stages of the period during which Aksumite civilisation flourished, the others follow their themes throughout that time – which inevitably requires much cross-referencing in order to avoid repetition. Sources of written evidence that are relevant to several different chapters are, for convenience, evaluated in Chapter 6. As with many chapters in this book, a high proportion of the relevant data is from Aksum itself, other Tigray areas and much of southern Eritrea having been less well served by research and publication. The Asmara area seems to have been sparsely inhabited during the greater part of this period.
A book such as this, which attempts to set Aksumite civilisation in its context of overall historical development in the northern Horn of Africa, requires that somewhat arbitrary parameters be imposed. While it must be recognised that historical processes may occur at distinct times and with variable form and intensity in different areas, clarity of narrative requires a chronological framework. The difficulties are exacerbated since it appears that, in its earliest phase, the Aksumite kingdom was a geographically restricted entity that subsequently greatly expanded its territory to incorporate diverse previously distinct populations. For reasons discussed more fully in Chapter 7, Aksumite civilisation is first recognised at the time when a major new settlement was established in the valley between Beta Giyorgis and Mai Qoho hills in the highlands of west-central Tigray; this probably took place around the first half of the first century AD.