History June 29, 2018 at 01:00 pm

5 African civilizations that were as awesome as ancient Egypt

Mildred Europa Taylor | Head of Content

Mildred Europa Taylor June 29, 2018 at 01:00 pm

June 29, 2018 at 01:00 pm | History

The ruins of Aksum — tripadvisor.co.za

Aksum Empire

Described as one of the greatest empires to ever exist in Africa, the Kingdom of Aksum lasted from around 100 AD to 940 AD, and extended across East Africa and beyond, including modern-day Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan.

Located in the northern province of Tigray, Aksum remained the capital of Ethiopia until the seventh century CE.

At its peak, the kingdom controlled territories as far as southern Egypt, east to the Gulf of Aden, south to the Omo River, and west to the Cushite Kingdom of Meroe.

Aksum was situated in a strategic position in the middle of a large trade route that extended from Rome to India. It was involved in the trade network between India and the Mediterranean (Rome, later Byzantium), exporting ivory, tortoiseshell, gold and emeralds, and importing silk and spices.

As it dominated trade routes due to its strategic position, Aksum became one of the first African empires to issue its own coins.

Apart from having its own alphabet known as the Ge’ez, the kingdom is famous for its tall stone cut towers known as obelisks which were tombstones that were built to mark graves and underground burial chambers.
Historians have attributed the decline of Aksum to several causes. For some, climate change, resulting in deforestation and erratic rainfall caused the Kingdom’s downfall.

Others also base the Kingdom’s decline on external political factors, like the rise of other large empires including the Persian and cities like Alexandria and Byzantium (now Istanbul), as well as, the growing power of the Arabs, who were beginning to dominate the Red Sea trade routes that were before then ruled by Aksum.

 

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