Tuesday, 28 February 2012 11:49

AXUM

Written by  Fekade Daniel
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Aksum’s foundation is suggested to be as early as 300 BCE. Very little is known of the time period between the mid-first millennium of BCE to the beginning of Aksum’s flourish, thought to be around the first century CE. There is little in common between the Aksumites and the earlier pre-Aksumite civilizations (Munro-Hay 1991, 4).

The Aksumite kingdom was located in the northern province of Tigray and there it remained the capital of Ethiopia until the seventh century CE. Aksum owes its prosperity to its location. The Blue Nile basin and the Afar depression are both within a close proximity of Aksum. The former is rich of gold and the latter of salt: both materials having a highly important use to the Aksumites. Aksum was also within an accessible distance to the port of Adulis, on the coast of the Red Sea, hence maintaining trade relations with other nations, such as Egypt, India, and Arabia. Aksum’s ‘fertile’ and ‘well-watered’ location produced enough food for its population as well as its exotic animals, such as elephants and rhinoceros (Pankhurst 1998, 22-3).

 

Aksum inherited a culture highly influenced by South Arabia. The Aksumites' language, Ge'ez, was a modified version of the South Arabian rudiments, with admixtures of Greek and Cushitic tongues already present in the region. Their architectural art was inherited from their South Arabian counters. Some Aksumite artwork contained combinations of Middle Eastern deities.

From its capital on the Tigray Plateau, Aksum was in command of the trade of ivory with Sudan. It also dominated the trade route leading south and the port of Adulis on the Gulf of Zola. Its success depended on resourceful techniques, production of coins, steady migrations of Greco-Roman merchants and ships landing on the port of Adulis. In exchange for Aksum’s goods, traders bid many kinds of cloth, jewelry, metals and steel for weapons.

At its peak, Aksum controlled territories as far as southern Egypt, east to the Gulf of Aden, south to the Omo River, and west to the Cushite Kingdom of Meroe. The South Arabian kingdom of the Himyarites was also under the power of Aksum.

Department of publication: April,05 2012

Last modified on Thursday, 05 April 2012 05:47

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