The Kingdom of አክሱም-Aksum: The አፁሚተ – Axumite Empire of Ethiopia and Eritrea’s Horn of Africa..


 

 

Kings of Axum

The Axumite Empire or Aksumite Empire

(The Kingdom of Axum or Aksum), (Ge’ez: አክሱም),

Important trading Nation in North-Eastern Africa,

Growing from the proto-Aksumite period ca.

Aksumite Empire Map

4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD.

Its Ancient Capital is found in Northern Ethiopia.

The Kingdom used the name “Ethiopia” as early as the 4th century.

It is also the alleged resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the purported home of the Queen of Sheba.

Aksum was also the first major empire to convert to Christianity.

Aksum is mentioned in the 1st century AD Periplus of the Erythraean Sea as an important market place for “Ivory”,

which was exported throughout the ancient world, and states that the ruler of Aksum in the 1st century AD was “Zoscales”

Who, besides ruling in Aksum also controlled two harbours on the Red Sea:

Adulis (near Massawa) and Avalites (Assab) located in Eritrea. He is also said to have been familiar with Greek literature.

Axum data mapThe Kingdom of Aksum was ideally located to take advantage of the new trading situation.

Adulis soon became the main port for the export of “African goods”, such as Ivory, Incense, Gold, and Exotic animals.

In order to supply such goods the kings of Aksum worked to develop and expand an inland trading network.

A rival, and much older trading network that tapped the same interior region of Africa was that of the “Kingdom of Kush”,

which had long supplied “Egypt” with African goods via the “Nile” corridor.

By the 1st century AD, however, Aksum had gained control over territory previously “Kushite”.

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea explicitly describes how ivory collected in

Kushite territory was being exported through the port of “Adulis” instead of being taken to Meroë, the capital of “Kush”.

During the 2nd and 3rd centuries the Kingdom of Aksum continued to expand their control of the southern Red Sea basin.

A caravan route to “Egypt” was established which bypassed the Nile corridor entirely…

Aksum succeeded in becoming the principal supplier of African goods to the Roman Empire, not least as a result of the transformed

Indian Ocean trading system.

Aksum was previously thought to have been founded by Semitic-speaking Sabaeans who crossed the Red Sea from South Arabia (modern Yemen) on the basis of Conti Rossini’s theories and prolific work on Ethiopian history, but most scholars now agree that it was an “indigenous” development…

Scholars like Stuart Munro-Hay point to the existence of an older D’mt or Da’amot kingdom, prior to any Sabaean migration ca. 4th or 5th c. BC, as well as to evidence of Sabaean immigrants having resided in the region for little more than a few decades.

Furthermore, Ge’ez, the ancient Semitic language of Eritrea and Ethiopia,  is now known,  Not to have derived from Sabaean,

and there is evidence of a Semitic speaking presence in Ethiopia and Eritrea at least as early as 2000 BC.

Axumite Erythraen Sea Map 1st century C.E.

Note:

The Axumite አፁሚተ population consisted of Semitic-speaking people (collectively known as Habeshas), people of Ethiopia and Eritrea

And they are also Cushitic-speaking people, and Nilo-Saharan-speaking people (the Kunama and Nara).

Habesha Women

 

The Axsumite Kings had the official title  ነገሠ ፡ ነገሠተ ngś ngśtKing of Kings (later vocalization Ge’ez ንጉሠ ፡ ነገሥት nigūśa nagaśt,

Modern Ethiosemitic nigūse negest).

Aksumites did own slaves, and a modified feudal system was in place to farm the land.


The Empire of Axsum:

at its height extended across most of present-day

Eritrea, Northern EthiopiaYemen, Southern Saudi Arabia and Northern Sudan.

 

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 center.

Two hills and two streams lie 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,

The Aksumites had cemeteries with elaborate “grave stones” called “stelae, or obelisks”.

Axumite Obelisk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaHCLnsTPr8&feature=related

 

Other important cities included Yeha, Hawulti, Matara, Adulis, and Qohaito, the last three of which are now in Eritrea.

 

In the 3rd century, Aksum began interfering in South Arabian affairs, controlling at times the westerTihama region among other areas.

By the  late 3rd 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 Persia, Rome, and China.

Coinage of King Endubis of Axumite Ethiopia227-235CE

Note:

Endubis (c.270 – c.300) was a King of Axum.

He was among the earliest rulers of Axum, and Africa for that matter, (he was also, the very first King) tomint coins”.

These coins were issued in Gold and Silver...

On the coins of Endubis so far recovered, either of two mottos were engraved.

On some coins he described himself as

“BACIΛEYC AΧWMITW”, “King of Axum”.

On others appeared the motto “BICI ΔAXY”, “bisi Dakhu”;

(this is the first appearance of the title “bisi”),

which S. C. Munro-Hay believes, is related to

the Ge’ez word be’esya – translation- “man of “…

 

They converted to Christianity in 325 or 328 under King Ezana and was the first state ever, to use the image of the “Cross” on its coins..

At its height, Axsum controlled Northern Ethiopia, Eritrea,

Nubia, Upper Egypt, Djibouti, Yemen, and Southern Saudi Arabia, totalling 1.25 million km².

Axumite-Silk Route

It was a quasi-ally of Byzantium against the Persian Empire of the day and declined after the 7th century due to unknown reasons,

but informed speculation suggests the rise of Islam heavily impacted its ability to trade with

the Far East in the era when shipping was limited to coastal navigation as well as cut it off from its principal markets

in Alexandria, Byzantium and Southern Europe.

Under Emperor Ezana,

Axum adopted Christianity in place of its former polytheistic and Judaic religions around 325 A.D.

This gave rise to the present day Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

(only granted autonomy from the Coptic Church in 1959), and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church

(granted autonomy from the Ethiopian Orthodox church in 1993).

Since the schism with orthodoxy following the Council of Chalcedon (451),

It has been an important Miaphysite church, and its scriptures and liturgy are still in Ge’ez.

It was a cosmopolitan and culturally important state.

It was a meeting place for a variety of cultures:

EthiopianEgyptianSudanicArabic, and Indian.

The Major Aksumite cities had SabeanHebrewNubianChristian, and even Buddhist minorities.

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4 Responses to “The Kingdom of አክሱም-Aksum: The አፁሚተ – Axumite Empire of Ethiopia and Eritrea’s Horn of Africa..”

  1. gebremedhin desta Says:

    Aksum from menilk I – ABREHA WE ATSBEHA

    • Bileh* Gambela በላይ ። ጋምበላ Says:

      ABRAHA WA ATSBEHA

      The Wonderful Church of Abreha Wa Atsbeha is situated 15 kms. West of Wukro. A newly built gravel road leads to within a few meters of the church and beyond to Hawzien via Degum.

      The Church is one of the Best and Largest of the Rock Churches of Tigray, dedicated to the Famous Kings of Axum, the brothers Abreha and Atsbeha.

      The church is cut into the red rock overlooking a valley, and stands out with its white painted façade sheltering two tall blue doors under arches. The church is decorated with splendid post-17th century mural paintings depicting Biblical scenes and saints.

      Abraha also known as ‘Abraha al-Asram or Abraha b. as-Saba’h, was an Aksumite Christian ruler of Yemen. Accounts of his origin differ. Procopius recorded that he was once the slave of a Roman merchant at Adulis, while Tabari says that he was related to the Aksumite royal family.

      Be this as it may, he was either one of the commanders or a member of one of the armies sent by Emperor Kaléb against Dhü Nuwäs, the Judaized ruler of Yemen, in the period c. 523-525 A.D.

      REFERENCES:

      ABRAHA WATSBEHA

      http://www.suntrekethiopiatours.com/ethiopia-tigrai-churches

      Abreha Wa Atsbeha

      http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/africa/abreha-wa-atsbeha-church.shtml

      Abraha

      http://www.dacb.org/stories/ethiopia/_abraha.html

  2. Hilda (Hirut) Says:

    Ethiopia is one of the most beautiful countries I have visited in Africa. Lovely people, uncorrupted culture, beautiful landscape.

    Stones which I would not have known what to do with make lovely strong houses. The Cactus in Tgry!

    Even the cows gazing on small sprouting grass looked elegant. Who says Cape Town has a reserve of table mountains! Ethiopia has better.

    I fell in love with the place.

    • Biléh* Gambéla በላይ ። ጋምበላ Says:

      Welcome HIlda, and thanks for sharing your experiences in Ethiopia!

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