Thursday, November 28, 2019

Axum Empire (Kingdom of Aksum)

East African kingdom of Kush became powerful enough to push north and conquer Egypt. During the next century, fierce Assyrians swept into Egypt and drove the Kushite pharaohs south. However, Kush remained a powerful kingdom for over 1,000 years. Finally, a more powerful kingdom arose and conquered Kush. That kingdom was Aksum(AHK•soom). It was located south of Kush on a rugged plateau on the Red Sea, in what are now the countries of Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Aksum was the name of a city and a kingdom which is essentially modern-day northern Ethiopia (Tigray province) and Eritrea. Research shows that Aksum was a major naval and trading power from the 1st to the 7th centuries AD.

Aksum was surrounded by an agricultural hinter-land of fertile plains populated by villages of farmers who provided the non-food-producing residents of the city with the crops (wheat, barley, sorghum, teff, lentils, peas, grapes) and livestock (cattle, sheep, goats) that formed the basis of their diet. Surplus agricultural production was necessary to support the urban population, but the management and control of trade was the catalyst that drove Aksum’s growth and sociopolitical development.

A legend traces the founding of the kingdom of Aksum and the Ethiopian royal dynasty to the son of King Solomon (of ancient Israel)and of the Queen of Sheba, (a country in southern Arabia). That dynasty lastedinto the 20th century, until the last ruler, Haile Selassie, died in 1975.

Periplus of the Erythraean written in 100 BC Sea describes Zoskales, thought to be the first king of Aksum. Under Zoskales and other rulers, Aksum seized areas along the Red Sea and the Blue Nile in Africa. The rulers also crossed the Red Sea and took control of lands on the southwestern Arabian Peninsula. The Periplus describes Aksum as a center for the collection of ivory brought from beyond the Nile, and lists other natural resources such as gold, tortoiseshell, rhinoceros horn, live animals, incense, obsidian, and slaves that were exchanged for a variety of manufactured goods imported from international markets.

By the mid-1st century, Aksum was already known as a trading metropolis trading with the outside world through the port of Adulis on the Red-Sea coast of what is now Eritrea, although this coastal region itself was probably still independent of Aksumite rule. Aksum’s access to rich sources of ivory, greatly valued in the Roman Empire, probably contributed to its rapidly growing prosperity.

The kingdom of Aksum reached its height between A.D.325 and 360, when an exceptionally strong ruler, Ezana, occupied the throne. Determined to establish and expand his author-ity, Ezana first conquered the part of the Arabian peninsula that is now Yemen. Aksum embraced the Orthodox tradition of Christianity in the 4th century (c. 340–356 C.E.) under the rule of King Ezana. The king had been converted by Frumentius, a former Syrian captive who was made Bishop of Aksum.
Axum Empire (Kingdom of Aksum)

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