Here's an interesting story from last year, detailing the preservation in 2006 of two Ethiopian Orthodox manuscripts called The Garima Gospels. In 2010, the Gospels-- originally believed by western historians to have been created in the twelfth century-- were radiocarbon dated to between 330 and 650AD. This makes them the second oldest complete copy of the Gospels in the world, after "the Codex Sinaiticus, a copy of the Bible hand-written in Greek which dates back to the third century. Unlike the Garima Gospels, the Codex includes large chunks of the Old Testament, but the entire work is divided between museums and monasteries in Egypt, Britain, Russia and the USA" (The Independent). The Garima Gospels pre-date all other early Christian texts in sub-Saharan Africa by more than 500 years. In the second volume, another 14th century Gospels was also included.
The Garima Gospels are bound in two volumes, Garima I & II. Garima I (348 pages) contains 11 illuminated pages, Garima II (322 pages) contains 17 pages of illuminations, including an unusual depiction called the Temple of the Jews. This building is shown "with a staircase in a form otherwise unknown in Christian iconography (the architecture is possibly based on a Persian Sassanid garden pavilion for exotic animals, representing paradise)."
The beautiful illuminations are all painted in the early Byzantine style, but it is unclear where they were painted, or by whom. Jacques Mercier, a French specialist in Ethiopian art, believes that the illustrations in Garima I were painted in Syria or around Jerusalem, while the those in Garima II "show some affinity with those of Coptic Egypt. It is also possible that the illuminations were done by a Middle Eastern artist working in Ethiopia or an Ethiopian in a Middle Eastern studio."
The volumes' text is written in Ge'eze, a language once spoken in the area of the monastery, but no longer in use. Tigrinya is the language currently spoken in the region. "The text itself was probably copied in Ethiopia (rather than by a Ge’ez scribe in the Middle East), since it appears to have been added after the illuminations had been completed."
For a more detailed description of the on-site preservation process, see this story. And here is an interesting essay about the pre-Christian vs. Christian uses of icons and other Christian objects in Ethiopia.
Lastly, I can't help but wonder... what would an evangelical, traditionally-based Ethiopian visual art form look like?