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.
4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD.
Its Ancient Capital is found in Northern Ethiopia.
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 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.
and there is evidence of a Semitic speaking presence in Ethiopia and Eritrea at least as early as 2000 BC.
The Axsumite Kings had the official title ነገሠ ፡ ነገሠተ ngś ngśt – King 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
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,
In the 3rd century, Aksum began interfering in South Arabian affairs, controlling at times the western Tihama region among other areas.
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 “…
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
Under Emperor Ezana,
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: