Also known as the kingdom of Axum or the Aksumite Empire, was an ancient kingdom centred in Northern Ethiopia, in the Tigray region as well as what is now Eritrea. Axumite rulers styled themselves as King of Kings, king of Aksum, Himyar, Raydan, Saba, Salhen, Tsiyamo, Beja and of Kush. Ruled by the Aksumites, it existed from approximately 80BC to AD 825. The policy was centred in the city of Axum and grew from the proto– Aksumite iron Age period around the 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD.

Aksum became a major player on the commercial route between the Roman Empire and Ancient India. According to the book of Aksum, Aksum’s first capital, Mazaber, was built by Itiyopis, son of Cush. The capital was later moved to Axum in Northern Ethiopia. The kingdom used the name “Ethiopia” as early as the fourth century. The capital city of the empire was Aksum, now in northern Ethiopia. Today, a smaller community, the city of Aksum was once a bustling metropolis, cultural and economic centre.

Two hills and two streams like on the east and west expanses of the city; perhaps providing the initial impetus for settling this area. Along the hills and plain outside the city, were elaborate grave stones called Stelee or Obelisks. By the reign of Endubis in the late third century, it had begun minting its own currency and was named by Mani as one of the four great powers of his time Along with the Sasanian Empire, Roman Empire and “Three kingdoms” in China.

The Aksumites adopted Christianity as its state religion in 325 or 328 AD under king Ezana and were the first state even to use the image of the cross on its coins. The Aksumites population consisted of Semitic speaking people (collectively known as Habeshas), Cushitic – speaking people and Nilo- Saharan- speaking people (the Kunama and Nara).

The Empire of Aksum is notable for a number of achievements, such as its own alphabet, the Ge’ez script which was eventually modified to include vowels, becoming an abugida. The main exports of Aksum were, as would be expected of a state during this time, agricultural products. The land was much more fertile during the time of the Aksumites than now, and their principal crops were grains such as wheat and barley.

The people of Aksum also raised cattle, sheep, and camels. Wild animals were also hunted for things such as Ivory and Rhinoceros horns. They traded with Roman traders as well with Egyptian and Persian merchants. The empire was also rich with gold and iron deposits. These metals were valuable to trade, but salt was also widely traded. Salt was abundant in Aksum and was traded quite frequently.

Palaces usually consisted of a central pavilion surrounded by subsidiary structures pierced by doors and gates that provided some privacy. The largest of these structures now known is the Ta’akha Moryam, which measured 120×80m, though as its pavilion was smaller than others it was discovered that it is likely that others were even larger. Some clay models of houses survive to give us an idea of what smaller dwellings were like. One depicts a round hut with a conical roof thatched in layers, while another depicts a rectangular house with rectangular doors and windows, a roof supported by beams that end in “monkey heads” and a parapet and a water spout on the roof. Both were found in Hawelti.

Aksum declined because the Muslims came into their kingdom and conquered it. By the time Adulis was taken, the Aksumites people moved into a mountain area and without the greatness and resources they had, they died out.


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[…] to 5th centuries BC. As a result, it is not known whether D’mt ended as a civilization before the kingdom of Aksum’s early stages, evolved into the Aksumite State, or was one of the smaller states United in the […]