Hatsani Daniel’s inscription

Daniel Hatsani was one of the mighty military commanders of Aksum. We know from the inscription he left behind that he overcame the forces that invaded in what is now the Sudan from the Beja land. He captured and maintained several prisoners of war as his slaves. One of his inscriptions from the 7th century AD recorded that the Welkite people destroyed Aksum. Inscribed on a base of the Aksumite throne, the inscriptions of Hatsani Daniel are of significant historical significance because they convey that Aksum suffered attacks from various directions. The population and the king may have been displaced from Aksum during these troubled times and temporarily relocated to the rural communities around.

Interestingly, Daniel introduced the title “Hatsani” unlike his predecessors who used the title Negus (King) or Neguse Negest (King of Kings). Until the time of Lalibela who is known to have used the same title, this was peculiar to him. Historians speculate the title might derive from the word Hatsene (bring up). They also guess the term may indicate that a “deposed” emperor ruled on behalf of him. The ruler’s displacement from his capital may suggest that he was unable to govern or maintain his traditionally significant title. In any case, Daniel Hatsani’s inscription provides clues of what had happened during those difficult times.

At the beginning of the processional path, one of the thrones has inscriptions in Ge’ez on the broken base commemorating the conquest of the Welkite and Kassala people by warlord Hatsani Daniel. Hatsani Daniel claims to have subjugated the Axumite king on the seat of the same throne, making himself supreme ruler.
These inscriptions were dated back to the seventh century when Axum began to decline, creating a political void accompanied by civil war and uprisings. With the transfer of power from an hereditary ruler to a military leader, it gives an important historical insight into this period.

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