MAGDALA (more correctly MAKDALA), a natural stronghold in the country of the Wollo Gallas, Abyssinia, about 250 m. W. of Jibuti on the Gulf of Aden, in 11 22' N., 39 25' E. The basaltic plateau of which it consists rises 9110 ft. above the sea. It is about three-quarters of a mile in length by less than half a mile in breadth, and lies more than a thousand feet higher than the neighbouring plain of Arogie. Chosen about 1860 by the emperor Theodore of Abyssinia as his principal stronghold in the south, Magdala owes its celebrity to the fact that, as the place of imprisonment of the English captives, it became the goal of the great English Expedition of 1868. At the time of its capture it contained huts for a population of about three thousand. The whole rock was burned bare by order of the commander of the British force, Sir Robert Napier, who, on being raised to the peerage for his services on this occasion, took the title of Lord Napier of Magdala. The plateau was subsequently refortified by the Abyssinians.
See Clements Markham, History of the Abyssinian Expedition (1869); and H. Rassam, British Mission to Theodore (1869).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)