• Topic: 2000 to 10,000 BP,1000 to 2000 BP
  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

Aksum is an ancient holly city which emerged around A.D. 200 which grew immensely as a ceremonial centre to a population of approximately 10 000 people and is representative an era of Christianity in the history of Ethiopia. The kingdom of Aksum was the most powerful state between the eastern Roman Empire and Persia and as a prosperous emporium for international trade it was revered in most of Africa, Asia and Europe. The control of Aksum extended as far as south Arabia and temporarily controlled the northern Ethiopia and the Sudan by A.D. 300. Allied with the emergence of a powerful political city and a large exchange network, was the existence of a deep-seated orthodox Christian tradition in the highlands of Aksum which began with the conversion of the Axumite king Ezana between A.D. 320 and A.D. 350.

The Axumite exchange network was the only trade network in sub-Saharan Africa known to the Literati of the classical world. Archaeologists suggest that the port of Adulis on the Eritrean cast of Ethiopia was linked to the Mediterranean trade network during the times of Ptolemy Euergetes I (247-222 B.C.). Aksum is characterized by a distinct architectural style which owes its origin to a craft of Arabian institutions including stalaes, obelisks, royal tombs and castles dating back between the 1st and 13th centuries. The oldest of these structures dated to 5000-2000 BC. The Aksum kingdom was at its peak around the 4th century CE under king Ezana, an era marked by Christianity. Aksum had ties with the outside world from Egypt, Yemen, and south Arabia to Greece and the Axumite trade included exchange in slaves, aromatic resins, and ivory. The Axumite trade network is believed to have resulted and influenced the spread of Islam in the region which resulted in the ultimate collapse of the Axumite kingdom.

Butzer, K.W. 1981. The Rise and fall of Axum, Ethiopia: Geo-Archaeological Interpretation. American antiquity, vol. 46, No. 3, pp 417-495.
Insoll, T. 1996. The Spread of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa. A Review: The Journal of World Prehistory, vol. 10. No. 4, pp 439-504.

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