Kingdom of Aksum

Aksum was a thriving city from the first to seventh centuries CE.  The original inhabitants were an Iron Age society with cultural ties to the Arabian Peninsula.  The kingdom of Aksum invaded Meroe around 350 CE when Meroe was in severe decline as trade had shifted to the southeast.

Aksum’s exports were many including agricultural products, ivory, gold, precious stones, salt and of course slaves.

Aksum traded,with Rome and Byzantium and as far as India.  They imported metal goods, glass, silks and spices.  Aksum minted its own gold, silver and copper coins from the third century which testifies to the kingdom’s wealth and commerce at home and abroad.

The fourth century ruler of Aksum, Ezana, adopted Christianity, replacing the kingdom’s polytheistic religion.

Aksum’s decline began around the sixth century, attributed to control of trade to a new Islamic caliphate in the Arabian Peninsula.

Only a small part of Aksum has been excavated.  Best known for its architecture and stelae.

The stele of Aksum was removed by Musolini and sent to Rome in 1937 but was returned to Ethiopia in 2005 and re-erected in 2008.