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Numerous fossil remains have been discovered within the valley, in particular the famous skeleton known as "Lucy," which is estimated to be approximately three million years old.
These early Hominids later developed into the earliest Homo sapiens, who lived throughout Ethiopia in small groups more than 100,000 years ago.
The Zagwe Dynasty, established in the early 12th century after the fall of Axum, was the first dynasty of the Ethiopian Empire, which would control the nation well into the 20th century.
Bisected by the Great Rift Valley, Ethiopia's geography is dominated by highly elevated plateaus and disjointed mountain ranges.
The climate of Ethiopia varies greatly, although the nation as a whole is part of a tropical zone with heavy rainfall during the summer monsoon season followed by a dry, moderate winter.
The Great Rift Valley cutting across central Ethiopia has long been considered the birthplace of human development.
As the story goes, Axum had long been a stronghold of Christianity, and the Jewish queen Gudit sought the throne by way of conquest, purportedly devastating the countryside before murdering the royal family of Axum.
Although the story of Gudit's life and brief reign is mysterious and controversial, it can be said with certainty that the decline of Axum did coincide with her speculated arrival in the 10th century AD.
Be forewarned, however, that having a large empire makes it more difficult to acquire the Culture needed to adopt social policies and ideological tenets, and is especially counterproductive when trying to win a cultural victory (for which Ethiopia is well-suited).