By the tenth century, the Zagwe dynasty had emerged as a post Axumite Christian Empire. The Zagwe kingdom was born out of the cultural and political interactions of the Cushitic and Semitic peoples in the northern highlands. Like the Axumite kingdom, the Zagwe dynasty was a political empire rooted in religion. The Zagwe devoted themselves to the construction of new churches and monasteries. Born out of this patronship of religious art is the construction of the rock hewn churches of Lalibela. Ethiopian Christianity, however, was increasingly isolated from other Christian nations. With the conversion of Egypt to Islam, the Zagwe dynasty lost contact with its closest link with the outside Christianity, the Egyptian Coptic Christian Church.