Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lake Tana (also spelled T'ana; older spellings include "Tsana" and "Dambea") is the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia. It is approximately 84 km long 66 km wide and is located in the country's north-west highlands at . Greatest depth is 15 m, over 3000 km2 in area at an elevation of 1800 m.
The lake has a number of islands, whose numbers vary depending on the level of the lake; it has fallen about 6 feet in the last 400 years. According to Manoel de Almeida (who was a Portugese missionary in the early 16th century, there were 21 islands, seven to eight of which had monasteries on them "formerly large, but now much diminished." When Robert Bruce visted the area in the later 18th century, he noted that the locals counted 45 inhabited islands, but stated he believed that "the number may be about eleven." A more modern geographer named 37 islands, of which he believed 19 have or had monasteries or churches on them.1
Remains of ancient Ethiopian emperors and treasures of the church are kept in the isolated island monasteries. On the island of Tana Cherqos is a rock shown to Paul B. Henze, on which he was told the Virgin Mary had rested on her journey back from Egypt; he was also told that Frumentius, who introduced Christianity to Ethiopia, is "allegedly buried on Tana Cherqos."2 The body of Yekuno Amlak is interred in the monastery of St. Stephen on the isle of Daga; other Emperors whose tombs are on Daga include Dawit I , Zara Yaqob , Za Dengel and Fasilidos . Other important islands in Lake Tana include Dek and Meshralia.
- C.F. Beckham and G.W.B. Huntingford, translators, Some Records of Ethiopia, 1593-1646, (series 2, no. 107; London: Hakluyt Society , 1954), p. 35 and note.
- Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p.73.
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