In ancient times, long-distance trade was the umbilical cord linking Ethiopia and the outside world. Ethiopian merchants spread their wares far and wide, including incense, ivory, gold, and even live animals such as baboons. Its closest trading partners lay just across the Red Sea in southern Arabia, but Ethiopian traders also reached markets in far-away Egypt, India, and the Mediterranean. So numerous were the Ethiopian merchants of Alexandria, for example, that a fourth-century Roman law barred them from tarrying in the city for more than a year. These commercial contacts encouraged cultural exchange, such that Ethiopia’s art, architecture, and literature were constantly shaped by the practices of its distant neighbors.From a review of a book about the Garima Gospels, some of the oldest known Biblical manuscripts.