A whitewashed neo-Renaissance façade set into a high rock escarpment above the village of Abreha wa-Atsbeha, in East Tigray, Ethiopia, stands in stark contrast to its sunbaked highland surroundings. Behind this façade is a relatively large rock-cut structure, one of the oldest medieval church buildings in Ethiopia. An Italian Renaissance Face on a “New Eritrea”: The 1939 Restoration of the Church of Abreha wa-Atsbeha addresses how the restoration of this church conducted by Italian Fascist authorities represents the appropriation of local history by both Fascist Italy and Ethiopia's own imperial rulers. As Mikael Muehlbauer describes, while the façade classicizes the building, evoking both the Italianita of the Renaissance and the Romanitas of imperial Rome, earlier murals inside claimed it for Yohannes IV, the nineteenth-century Tigrayan emperor of Ethiopia.

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