Eritrean Tigrinya woman with her traditional hairstyle, Asmara, Eritrea. Historically, the province of Tigray and central Eritrea was where Ethiopian and Eritrean civilization had its origins. The first kingdom to arise was that of D`mt in the 8th century BC. The Aksumite Kingdom, one of the powerful civilizations of the ancient world, was centered there from at least 400 BC to the 10th century AD. Spreading far beyond modern Eritrea and Tigray, it moulded the earliest culture of Eritrea and Ethiopia and left many historical treasures: towering finely carved stelae, the remains of extensive palaces, and the ancient places of worship still vibrant with culture and pageantry.
The Tigray-Tigrinya people are descendants of early Semitic-speaking peoples whose presence in the region spanning central Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, is postulated to have existed from at least 2000 BC, based on linguistic evidence (and known from the 9th century BC from inscriptions)
According to Ethiopian traditions, the Tigrayan nobility; i.e. that of the Tigray province of Ethiopia, trace their ancestry to the legendary king Menelik I, the child born of the queen of Sheba and King Solomon as do the priests of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (Ge'ez ካህን kāhin). Menelik I would become the first king of the Solomonic line of rulers of Ethiopia that ended only with the deposing of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.
The first possible mention of the group dates from around the 8th to 10th centuries, in which period manuscripts preserving the inscriptions of Cosmas Cosmas Indicopleustes (fl. 6th century) contain notes on his writings including the mention of a tribe called Tigretes. This writing clearly proves that the Tigray have been in their present location since before the time of Christ and began converting to Christianity in the fourth century. Some of the population may have migrated from the Arabian peninsula.