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What happened to Aksum, the fourth great empire of the ancient world?

Many sources say that in the ancient world, there were four extremely powerful empires and countries, namely Rome, China, Persia and Aksum.

Three of them will be familiar to any modern reader. But the fourth name, the kingdom of Aksum, seems to have disappeared from public memory.

What is Aksum, to whom does it belong? And why do we not remember this kingdom, why is this kingdom ranked among the greatest in the ancient world?

Kingdom of Aksum

The reason why we have no impression of this name must first come from Aksum’s position. This great civilization was caught between Egypt and ancient Rome, its fall and division gave way to neighboring countries to grow in strength and expansion.

According to many historical records, Aksum was located in the southeast of Egypt, on the Tigray highlands of present-day Ethiopia. It also included parts of Eritrea, eastern Sudan, across the Gulf of Aden, and much of present-day Yemen.

What happened to Aksum, the fourth great empire of the ancient world?  - Photo 1.

According to many historical records, Aksum was located in the southeast of Egypt, on the Tigray highlands of present-day Ethiopia. Photo: Pinterest

Aksum was known for its great military power and formidable navy in ancient times. The kingdom was also a powerful trading nation, and was closely linked to the three other great powers of its time. Through these trade links it became rich and built great monuments, also developed a sophisticated script and greatly contributed to the introduction of Christianity to Europe. Sub-Saharan Africa.

This kingdom was probably founded in the 1st century AD and flourished from the 3rd to 6th centuries AD. Since the Stone Age, humans have occupied the area, and farming communities thrived there for about a millennium. However, Aksum’s origin to this day remains a mystery.

The Rise of the Kingdom of Aksum

Many modern scholars suggest that the forerunner of this kingdom was the kingdom of D’mt, possibly originating in Yemen, traveling by sea and then gradually forming on the western coast of the Red Sea. But so far, little is known about this mysterious forerunner kingdom and their relationship with Aksum. What we can speculate is that they were replaced by Aksumites, or maybe they themselves became Aksumites.

What seems very likely is that, after a period of development, the kingdom of D’mt gradually declined, they were fragmented and replaced by a number of smaller kingdoms in the area. These kingdoms gradually came together in the 1st century AD and eventually became known as the vast kingdom of Aksum.

The local geography of Aksum also contributed to its development. Their capital city, also known as Aksum, was located at the crossroads of prominent trade routes, and the city’s fertile soil, climate and rainfall made the area ideal for agriculture. and livestock farming.

The people of Aksum made the most of the opportunities presented to them. Ivory and gold were the most valuable exports, but they made the most of the region’s resources to enrich themselves. Rhino horns, salt, emeralds, tortoise shells, myrrh (a type of myrrh), live animals, and slaves are also what made this kingdom flourish.

In return, the Aksumites imported steel, iron, textiles, spices, jewelry, glassware, wine, olive oil, and weapons. Through trade routes, Aksum’s relationships were established throughout the Middle East, South Arabia, Egypt, China and India, which made them rich and powerful. This kingdom of Aksum is also known as the first African country to mint its own coins in copper, silver and gold.

During the 3rd to 6th centuries AD, the kingdom of Aksum rose to the height of its power. During those years, Aksum was a prosperous, stratified society with a clear hierarchy and division between the people and their rulers.

Their capital city has grown in size, population, as well as complexity of development. Through war, Aksum was also able to expand his territory. During the 4th century AD, King Ezana I of Aksum was even able to conquer the city-state of Meroe, which had been a powerful neighbor of Egypt for centuries.

Writing and art

Aksum Kingdom has its own writing system. One of the earliest examples of their writing system can be found on slate tablets dating from the 2nd century AD.

Their script is called Ethiopic or Ge’ez, which resembles the languages ​​of southern Arabia and seems to have evolved from the language of the D’mts. This script is still in use in modern Ethiopia, and Christian Ethiopians also have their own version of the Ge’ez Bible.

Artistically, the kingdom of Aksum had potters who used to produce simple red and black earthenware without the use of a wheel. Porcelain wares have a matte finish and are often coated with a red color.

Forms of pottery are bowls, cups and sprayers. Geometric designs are decorated using stamps, paintings, incisions, and three-dimensional pieces. One of the popular decorative motifs is the Christian cross.

However, no large scale statues have been discovered from Aksum kingdom. Instead, stone pedestals, thrones, and figurines have been discovered.

The Decline of Aksum

After overcoming wars with Persia and internal strife, the kingdom of Aksum finally entered a period of decline around the end of the 6th century AD. The migration of herdsmen west of Bedja or the overuse of agricultural lands are the main causes of the kingdom’s decline, although climate change may also play a part. .

Furthermore, the policy of the kings at Aksum giving tribal leaders a great deal of autonomy was also counterproductive, as this encouraged them to split up and establish independent states of their own. The loss of revenue from these breakaway kingdoms weakened Aksum’s aristocracy.

However, even in the 21st century, the former territory of Aksum kingdom is still inhabited. Two of the other three great empires, the Romans and the Persians, fell in the passing centuries. China is still alive, still using the name as their soul.

But Aksum never really died. In the country of Ethiopia, and in the Coptic Christian traditions of the Ethiopian church, the kingdom of Aksum persists to this day.

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