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The Aksumite Empire was one of the first economically and politically competitive African powers to issue its own coins, which bore legends in Ge’ez and Greek. Coins of gold, silver, and bronze were minted from the reign of Endubis until the reign of Armah (around 270 to 610).
See the fact file below for more information on the Aksumite Empire or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Aksumite Empire worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The Aksumite Empire (sometimes referred to as the Axumite Empire, Kingdom of Aksum, or Axum) was a major trading nation in northeastern Africa that developed from the proto-Aksumite era – approximately the 4th century BC to the 1st century BC.
- It is also the presumed to be the resting place of the Covenant Ark and the Queen of Sheba’s palace. This was an ancient African civilization that traded extensively in the ancient world, similar to present-day Ethiopia.
- Converting to 4th-century Christianity, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church continues to be the tradition of the majority of Ethiopians using their language (Ge’ez) and perpetuating elements of the artistic heritage of this civilization. Today’s Ethiopian society is rooted in this civilization.
- Located in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, Aksum was very active in the Indian-Mediterranean trade network.
- Aksum was mentioned in Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, which was written in the 1st century AD, as an important marketplace for ivory traded in the ancient world.
- According to this text, during this period, the ruler of Aksum was Zoscales, who also ruled two harbors on the Red Sea in addition to ruling in Aksum. These harbors were Adulis (near Massawa) and Avalites (Assab).
- He is also said to have been acquainted with Greek literature: “These places are governed by Zoscales, from the Calf-Eaters to the other Berber country; who is unhappy in his ways and always striving for more, but otherwise upright, and knowledgeable of Greek literature” (Periplus of the Erythraean Sea).
- The Aksum Kingdom benefited from a significant transformation of the maritime trade network, linking the Roman Empire with India.
- The older method of trading included coastal shipping and many intermediary ports.
- The Red Sea was of secondary importance for the Persian Gulf and for the Levant’s overland relations. A route from Egypt to India was developed around 100 BC, taking advantage of the Red Sea and using monsoon winds to cross the Arab Sea directly to southern India. About 100 AD, the level of traffic on that route had overwhelmed older routes.
- The Aksumite people consisted of a mixture of Habeshas, Semitic-speaking people, Cushitic-speaking people, and Nilo-Saharan-speaking people (the Kunama and Nara).
- The kings of Aksumite had the official title ngś ngśt — King of Kings.
- Kings of Aksumite traced their ancestry to Solomon and Sheba. All the emperors of Ethiopia asserted and used this royal heritage and title.
- Aksumites had their own slaves, and there was a new feudal structure in place for farming the land.
- The Aksumites practiced a polytheistic religion before its conversion to Christianity. Astar was the chief god of the pre-Christian Aksumites, and his uncle, Mahrem (Maher), traced their descent from the kings of Aksum.
- His slave-teacher, Frumentius, the father of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, converted King Ezana II around 324 AD. Frumentius taught the emperor when he was young and staged the conversion of the empire at some point.
- The Axumites are believed to have converted to Christianity as they replaced the disc and crescent with the cross in their coins.
- Frumentius was in contact with the Church in Alexandria, and he was appointed Bishop of Ethiopia around 330 AD.
- Alexandria never reigned firmly in Aksum, but instead permitted Aksum to have its own form of Christianity, although the Church retained a minor influence.
- Aksum is also the supposed birthplace of the holy relic, the Covenant Ark. The Ark is said to have been built by Menelik I for safekeeping in the Church of Mary of Zion.
- Aksum’s empire is notable for a number of achievements, such as its own alphabet. The Ge’ez alphabet, which developed from South Arabian epigraphs during the late pre-Aksumite and proto-Aksumite period, was later changed to include vowels, becoming an abugida.
- In fact, about 1,700 years ago, in the early days of the empire, giant obelisks were built to mark the tombstones (underground grave chambers) of the emperor (and nobles), the most prominent of which is the Obelisk of Aksum.
- Around 324 AD, under King Ezana II, Aksum adopted Christianity in place of its previous polytheistic and Judaic religions. This gave rise to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of Tewahedo (1959) and the Eritrean Orthodox Church of Tewahdo (1993).
- The Ethiopian Orthodox Church of Tewahedo has been an important Miaphysite church since the schism with orthodoxy that followed the Council of Chalcedon, and its scriptures and liturgy are still in Ge’ez.
- Aksum was a cosmopolitan society with a spiritual significance. It was a meeting place for a variety of cultures – Egyptian, Sudanese, Arabic, and Indian. The major Aksumite towns had minorities of Sabean, Jewish, Nubian, Christian, and even Buddhist supporters.
Aksumite Empire Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Aksumite Empire across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Aksumite Empire worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Aksumite Empire which was one of the first economically and politically competitive African powers to issue its own coins, which bore legends in Ge’ez and Greek. Coins of gold, silver, and bronze were minted from the reign of Endubis until the reign of Armah (around 270 to 610).
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Aksumite Empire Facts
- Five Facts
- Spot the Difference
- Rebus Codes
- Locating the Axum Empire
- Red Sea
- Culture in Picture
- AE Puzzle
- Historical Timeline
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Link will appear as Aksumite Empire Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 15, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
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