Workshop on the conservation of Yimrihane Kristos 2013



THIS WAS THE NAME of a joint workshop initiated by SCECH as a follow up of our preliminary ocular and technical examination of Yimrihane Kristos 2012 (see separate page about this). The workshop took place at Intercontinental Hotel in Addis Ababa, March 18-19, 2013 and was organized by the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Management at Addis Ababa University in collaboration with us here in Sweden. In the organizing committee was: Professor Shiferaw Bekele, Ato Getashew Meressa, Ato Mengistu Gobezei and Dr Alemseged Beldados. The workshop gathered about 50 delegates including 4 members of SCECH, representatives from ARCCH’s head office and their regional and local offices in Bahir Dar and Lalibela, Addis Ababa University, Ministry of Culture, The Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES), The Patriarchate as well as priests and other representatives from Lalibela and Yimrihane Kristos.  A beautifully illustrated workshop program booklet had been printed, the event was partly broadcasted by Ethiopian TV and delicious, traditional Ethiopian food was served in the hotel restaurant.

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Photo of the cover page of the workshop booklet.


The program booklet contents initiated texts presenting Yimrihane Kristos as heritage site from the Zagwe dynasty, about the church and its history and its religious function, the unique architecture reflecting the old aksumite building technique and design, about the extensive pictorial program of this church as well as on the adjacent palace, supposed to have been the residence of  the king Yimrihane Kristos. In text II, ”Conservation Project” it is said:

A group of Swedish scholars and conservationists have proposed to carry out a comprehensive restoration of the medieval painting, the wall decorations and the ceilings. They undertook a preliminary exploration of the site. They are now preparing to undertake the conservation work. The project has brought forth, more then ever before the danger that most Ethiopian artistic heritages faced deterioration at an alarming rate! Unless widespread and comprehensive restoration campaign is launched, many priceless works of (religious) art will soon become endangered spices. Hence, the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Management decided to take advantage of the opportunity that Yemrehanä Kristos Conservation Pilot Project offered to organize an International Workshop to deliberate upon the situation.

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Inhabitants and priests gathered for one of several meetings in the village of Yimrihane Kristos, which took place before our preliminary examination 2012, and the beautiful surroundings in the province of Lasta.


From text III, Objective of the Workshop, we read: The Department of Archaeology and Heritage Management believes that a workshop to discuss the state of these two buildings is necessary for several reasons:

  1. To subject to rigorous academic discussion the reports of the group who propose to embark restoration work;
  2. To give opportunity to graduate students and the staff of the Department as well as those in cognate departments to listen to presentations of the Swedish Group on the specific aspects of restoration of paintings and buildings;
  3. To create consensus among all the stakeholders on the urgent need for restoration of these two masterpieces;
  4. To use the occasion to raise awareness within the University as well as in the relevant cultural institutions for graduate level training  – at the Master level in Addis Ababa University;
  5. To bring to attention of the academic community, and of those who work in cultural institu-tions as well as the broad public the imminent danger of the fading away and disappearance that Ethiopia’s historical paintings, manuscripts and other objects face; and therefore;
  6. To declare on the Workshop that there are many objects of heritage in Ethiopia that should be classified as ”endangered” species” and consequently, to call for a campaign of conservation.


Link to: Workshop program: lecturer/lectures and discussions

Link to: Abstracts of the eight presented papers