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Kingdom of Aksum

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A Treasure Returned

A Treasure Returned
Photograph by George Steinmetz

Kese Alemu Bailiyeng, an Orthodox priest in Lalibela, displays the processional cross of his church—Bieta Masqal, or House of the Cross. Each of Lalibela’s 12 rock churches has its own ceremonial cross. The most famous of these is a heavy, two-foot-long (0.6 m) bronze-and-gold cross that belongs to Bieta Medhane Alem. Stolen in 1997, it was recovered two years later in Belgium, in the possession of an art collector who had bought it for $25,000 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Camera: Nikon 8008
Film Type: Fujichrome Velvia 50
Lens: 35mm
Speed and F-Stop: 1/60 @ f/4
Weather Conditions: Clear, open shade
Time of Day: Afternoon
Lighting Techniques: Natural light

Special Equipment or Comments:
A good guide and interpreter, the son of a priest, got me access to the church.

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