Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


Classical Studies


At the death of Augustus, Rome possessed four principal provinces: in Africa: Numidia, Africa (Tunisia), Cyrenaica, and Egypt. Soon after, Mauretania as:well would become a province, thus creating a sphere of direct Roman control stretching across the top of the African continent. These territories would become Rome's most valuable possessions, economically and culturally; their influence on Roman history, an influence not to be overlooked by historians., would be profound. Yet the narrow strip of land that was Roman Africa represents only a tiny portion of the vast bulk of the African continent, and there were peoples beyond the Roman frontiers ..who inhabited that continent and from time to time came into contact with Romans or with Roman subjects. These peoples were those whom the Greeks and the Romans called Ethiopians.-"dark-skinned" or "black" men who lived in the desert or up the Nile or in the lands beyond. The history of the contacts between these peoples and the Romans' has been somewhat overlooked by historians, despite the fact that there are numerous indications that these contacts were both many and important. Admittedly, there is a dearth of contemporaneous evidence of relationships between Ethiopians and Romans, and it is also true that much more archaeological work must be done before we can even begin to describe the histories and cultures of most of the Ethiopian nations. However. the lack of these materials should not deter us from evaluating the records that are at hand; indeed, sufficient evidence does exist to permit us to sketch in a picture of the interrelationships of the Roman world with the ancient African world.

In this paper I shall concentrate in particular on the contacts between the Roman world and Ethiopia during the period 50 B.C. to 300 A.D.-from the time when Rome began to expand onto the African continent to the time of the effective beginning of Rome's decline.