Erithrè Thàlassa, the Red Sea on its Greek expression, was an important commercial way since the beginning of the Roman Empire. It allowed the exchange of products, people and ideas from Arabia, the Horn of Africa, India and the Nile. Its “habashat” (later on called the habesha) people resulted from the crossing of Cushites, the ethnic root of most of the African people from Egypt to Somalia, with Semites, which came from the southern Arabic peninsula probably since the 1st millennium B.C.. According to one of the founding traditional narratives of the habesha people, this ethnic crossing and variation is explained by the legendary union of the Queen of Sheba (Yemen, Ethiopia and a part of Somalia) with the King Solomon (Israel), which would give origin to the Ethiopian Solomonic dynasty from the 13th century. The other founding narrative of these people is the identification of the Horn of Africa as the possible birthplace of humanity, due to the discovery of the first human fossils in its Great Tectonic Pit.


The official separation between Eritrea and Ethiopia happened with Eritrea’s independence in 1993. The definition of the frontiers and the access to the Red Sea are pointed as the main reasons for the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea (1998-2000, following the independence war between 1961 and 1991). Eritrea was the Italian “colonia primogenita” on a project that predicted the colonization of East Africa: the territory considered as “Africa Orientale Italiana” included Eritrea (1882-1941), Ethiopia (1936-1941) and Somalia (1908-1941). Albeit considered one of the weakest projects of the European colonialism, a relationship between Italy and the former Eritrean colony did subsist, and to some extend also between Italy and Ethiopia. Its evidences were the choice for Italian products/companies and the teaching of the Italian language in some Eritrean and Ethiopian schools, as also the domestic work of Eritreans and Ethiopians with the former colonial families, generating the first representative migratory flows from the Horn of Africa towards Italy (1960’s-70’s)


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