|The Rise of Aksum
The kingdom of Aksum conquered Kush in Eastern Africa in
A. D. 350. Aksum took over many of Kush's trade routes,
including the chief city Adula, where such goods as ivory and
gold were traded with Egypt, India, Arabia, and the Roman
Empire. Aksum converted to Christianity in A. D. 300, making
today's Ethiopia one of the oldest Christian areas of the world.
King Ezana ruled Aksum during its peak years. He expanded
the kingdom by conquering part of the Arabian peninsula.
Aksum was eventually invaded by Arabic peoples, and was no
longer by 900.
Cultural and Economic Achievements
Aksum became known for its stone architecture. Some tall
stelae, or pillars, still stand. This area was also the first
sub-Saharan kingdom to develop its own writing system and to
mint its own coins. The area that is today Ethiopia had a wealth
of gold from which coins were made by Aksumites and Romans.
People would travel by sea and land to the gold region to trade
their goods, such as meat, salt, and iron for pea-sized nuggets
of locally-mined gold. Around A. D. 700, the Baghdad caliphate
took control of the shipping on the Red Sea and Aksum lost its
importance. The ruler of Aksum was overthrown by a group of
local nobles called the Zagwe. Their ruler, Lalibela, ruled
Ethiopia from about 1185 to 1225.