History of the Kingdom of Aksum

The Kingdom of Aksum is one of the oldest kingdoms in Northeastern Africa. It is located on the cold edge of the highland zone of the Red Coast which is just above the horn of Africa.

Presently, the kingdom is covered much by the modern day countries of Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and northern Ethiopia.

Several historians believed that the city of Aksum was developed around 4th century B.C.E.

According to African legends and folklore, the Kingdom of Aksum was initially by the son of King Solomon of Israel and the Queen of Sheba. It is also believed that Aksum was the resting place of Ark of the Covenant.

Himalaya Mountains

It began its rise to prominence in 100 C.E. and subsequently reached its peak at approximately around 350 C.E during the reign of King Ezana.

At around this time, the Kingdom of Aksum constructed durable stone monuments and become African region to fully adopt Christianity. Under King Ezana, the Kingdom of Aksum was also able to conquer Kush by destroying its capital Meroe.

In addition to that, the Kingdom of Aksum also prospered in terms of cattle herding, agriculture, and trade after controlling most of the trade routes within Northeastern Africa.

As a matter of fact, merchants and traders would travel from India, Persia, Egypt, and Central Africa to bring their goods to Aksum.

What made the Kingdom of Aksum prosperous in trade negotiations was its access to a wide variety of trade routes which included waterways such as the Nile River, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea.

The main port city of Aksum was the metropolis of Adulis, which was located on the coast of the Red Sea. Traders in Adulis ordinarily trade products such as cloth, glass, gems, and olive oil.

By the same token, it also produced ivory and gold that were utilized to trade for foreign luxury goods, livestock, and services.

Other than that, the Kingdom of Aksum also became the first sub-Saharan African state to come up with its coinage. Coins were subsequently used as a replacement for ivory and gold in trade negotiations.

Oracle Bone Script

Interesting Facts about the Kingdom of Aksum

  • Aside from minting their own coins, the Kingdom of Aksum also developed their own written language as well as irrigation and terraced farming.
  • The Kingdom of Aksum is most famous for building tall towers that are known as the stelae. Typically, a stelae is carved with inscriptions and are nearly 100 feet high.
  • The Obelisk of Aksum is considered as the most famous architecture of the Kingdom of Aksum. It was taken by Italian soldiers in 1937 after defeating Ethiopia but was later returned to pieces and rebuilt in 2008.
  • At present, the city of Aksum still exists in Ethiopia. It is considered as one oldest and smallest inhabited cities of Africa. It has a general population of approximately 50,000 people.
  • The culture of the Kingdom of Aksum was primarily influenced by the Arabs, the Romans, the Greeks, and the Egyptians.
  • Christianity became the primary religion of Aksum at around 325 C.E. following the conversion of King Ezana.
  • The city of Adulis was conquered by Islamic conquerors during 710 C.E. As a result, the Kingdom of Aksum became isolated and started to decline.
  • Greek was the common language used by Aksum traders when communicating with foreign merchants.

What is the alphabet of the Kingdom of Aksum called?

The Kingdom of Aksum had its own alphabet called the “Ge’ez” which is primarily comprised of vowels.

What is the purpose of the stelae?

The stelae were often constructed with an emblem or pattern to honor the king or the rank of officials.

Who conquered the Kingdom of Aksum?

Local historians believed that a Jewish Queen named Yodit conquered the Kingdom of Aksum after burning its churches and literary works.

What are the religions of Aksum before Christianity?

Prior to adopting Christianity, people from the Kingdom of Aksum worshipped Judaic and polytheistic religions.