Axum(Aksum)

Axumites (Aksumites)

Kingdom of Axum, the central nation of Kingdom of Ethiopia nowadays, was existed approximately 900 B.C. to A.D. 600. The Maassai people, who once reigned over the East Africa, and the Sabaeans from southern Arabia were estimated as the ancient citizens of Axum. First, about Maasai people, they were known as warriors and herders. Their ideal was to live by their cattle alone, but they also did farming by using a communal land tenure system; grass gained a chance to grow because people moved their herds from one place to another. Men in the Maasai people should be the warriors, and then elders. Second, about Sabaeans from southern Arabia, they actually did not stay Axum for a long time. They lived in Axum more than few decades. Nevertheless, they were the ancestors of the rulers and a genealogy of Axum' rulers helped Axum and Arabia especially southern Arabia tied strong. This tie later helped Axum continue trading with Arabia.

Unique point is that Aksumites had their own language called "Ge'ez." Unlike other regions in Africa, they could write down their language.

Axum has copious mineral resources and salt. To employ mineral resources, they need skilled artisans and manufacturers. Therefore, unlike early civilizations, artisans were the popular and respectable jobs.  


Geography of Axum and its impact

The Kingdom of Axum, which was in North Eastern Africa, was at the crossroads of  Africa, Arabia and the Greco-Roman World. Aksum’s location made it a hub for caravan routes to Egypt and Meroë. Also, other south Africa people should send their goods to Axum because of trading. As a result, Aksum obtained a great power for trade.

The most significant fact is that they had coast and they were near to Mediterranean world. Coast helped Axum to be the bridge of international and domestic trades and diverse cultures. Through trade, they accepted Christianity, gained economic strength, and Axum merchants exported gold, ivory and spices to Arabia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. In return foreign merchants would receive cloth, jewelry, metals and steel to make weapons.


Changes of Religions in Aksum

Though Axum was the first nation which affirmed and spread Christianity, originally they believed in African traditional religion before they knew Christianity. For African traditional religion, they worshiped spirit which is above everthing on the earth and have power over the nature. Like other African civilizations, Axumites believed in only one god whose name is Mahrem. To show their honor to Mahrem, they sacrificed something significant to them such as bunch of oxen. However, after Axumites contacted with Christianity through Frumentius, a person who originally kidnapped by Axum, and monks from Byzantine empire, people in Aksum promptly fell into the Christianity. Axum has become the most powerful Christian state in Africa after the King Ezana officially converted to Christian in 333 A.D. Axumites replaced older temples to Coptic Churches, and they began to worship Christ by going to the Church and praying to Christ like nowadays Christians praying for Almighty one. Also, King Ezana and his queen visited Jerusalem sometimes and King did pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Christianity hugely affected to Axum in both positive and negative ways. In positive way, Axum could have unique identity. At that time, most African civilizations were Muslims which opposed to Christianity. Axum was the one of few civilization which develop and accept Christianity. Furthermore, they spread Christianity to other civilizations near to them. In negative way, because most of countries near Axum followed Islam, Axum was naturally isolated by them, and isolation led the decline of Axum in all ways.


Remains of Aksum

Aksum was fulled of mineral resources like other African civilizations, so most of their remains are made of metals such as iron, ivory, and copper. Archealogists found out that Aksumites exploited bones and stones as tools.

There are massive ruins, dating from between the 1st and the 13th century A.D., including monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, royal tombs and the ruins of ancient castles in Axum, nowadays Ethiopia. Axum's typical structures are obelisks which now existed several. The shapes of Obelisks, which made of only stones or rocks, are long cube buildings. Those structures were carved in languages such as Greek, Sabaean, and Ge'ez. From those languages, we can infer that Axum was influenced by Roman empire and Southern Arabia.

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