- The prosperous Aksumite and post-prosperous Aksumite Era:1-1137 [13-16]

A. 1- 630 AD is the era of prosperous Aksumite-Ethiopia

 This was the period when Aksumite-Ethiopia  was a maritime power, used coinage for international trade, served as a refuge for Christian monks who immigrated from Syria and the surrounding regions (9 saints).  Ethiopia became a Christian country much before the spread Islam. The exact beginning for Christianity in Ethiopia is controversial

1) The Ethiopian eunuch who travelled  through Gaza to pray at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was baptized by direct command of God about 50 AD. Therefore, some believe that Ethiopia became Christian as of 50 AD

2). St. Matthews evangelized Persia and Ethiopia and died in Ethiopia. This act was largely hidden for centuries because the Acta Apostolorum was not factually correct. The Catholic Encyclopedia indicates that the Ethiopia St. Matthew evangelized wasn't in Africa . At any rate, some believe that the evangelization by St. Matthew constitutes a second effort at evangelizing Ethiopia.

3) St. Mark evangelized Egypt, though his remains were later taken to Venice, Italy, and placed in San Marcos Church. Christianity took a firm footing in Ethiopia, after an individual sent to Alexandria was  ordained bishop by the House of Mark, returned to Ethiopia and baptized emperor Ezana. Even then, the Ethiopian Christians merged both Jewish and Christian traditions, so that each Ethiopian Church has a replica of the Arc of the Covenant at the center of it, and the congregation dances to the arc much as king David of Israel did. By these arrangements some of the Ethiopian Jews accepted Christianity, while others stayed as Beta Israel. There appears to have been no significant intercourse between worldwide Jewry and the Ethiopian Beta Israel. The worldwide Jewry has accommodated changes made during the 2nd and 3rd Temples at Jerusalem. On the other hand, the form of Jewry of the Beta Israel is stuck to the tradition of the 1st Temple .

The Aksumite Empire was one of the four world powers of its time and ruled over South Arabia . About 340 A.D. Emperor Ezana of the Aksumite Kingdom, a contemporary of the roman Emperor Constantine, placed the cross on his coinage as the first ever emperor in the world to do so, and accepted Christianity as the national religion. He erected the last stele at Aksum. The Christian faith was supported by the work of 9 saints who established monasteries. These saints were Middle Eastern priests that relocated to Ethiopia running away from persecution by those who supported the determination of the 452 Chalcedon Council about the nature of Christ. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church had opposed the Chalcedonic determination. Emperor Kaleb, who appeared at a ceremony clad in gold and riding an elephant-pulled chariot, as reported by a Roman ambassador, sent soldiers to Yemen to provide relief to Christians who were persecuted by a Jewish ruler. The Aksumite general who ruled over Yemen marched to Mecca in 630 AD, the year Prophet Mohammed was born.


Aksumites were architects known not only in the construction of obelisks but also of homes, public forums and places of worship. the Aksum Sion Cathedral in which the Arc of the Covenant was housed was also noted for its mural paintings of Emperor Gebre Meskel Kaleb and St. Yared.  St. Yared is a famous Ethiopian author, poet, composer of music and a priest of the 6th Century.  St. Yared consecrated the church at Debre Damo which was built by Abune Aregawe (Abbo), one of the 9 saints. He worked for two years at Debre Qirkos at lake Tana. Debre Bizen in Mereb Melash (Eritrea) was built in this century. An Ethiopian architect, called Bakum, refurbished the Ka’ba in Mecca.

Aksumites imported food items, clothing and jewelry. They exported  food items, incense, tusks of animals, animal, and animal skin.  Aksumites have used gold, silver, and bronze coinage to facilitate external trade.  Internal trade likely involved bartering and exchanging of grains  and processed food items, domesticated animals, and service by humans.

The emperors and the state maintained power by collecting goods and services from their subjects. The subjects likely paid tributes in one of three ways: (1) pay coinage, (2) pay in kind (offer cattle, grains and processed food), and/or (3) pay in services (present oneself or others to work in a given project for a set number of days - corvee labor).  In times of wars or other expeditions the subjects called upon by their emperor will have to serve him (and their state -corvee labor). It is likely that land was granted to those who served well with the provision that they may pass their land property to their off springs ("rist").  To others land might be granted for them to live on and to contribute a certain portion of their produce to the emperor or his designated representatives (tenant - "gebar'). All virgin land will belong to the emperor. Such form of land-use might have been practiced over northern highland Aksumite Ethiopia. However,because the Aksumite subjects were diverse in their religious believes and traditions and extended to regions even in south Arabia, Aksumite leaders likely paid less attention to local variation though they would insist on receiving tributes for land-use which is under Aksumite domain. The entire usage of land described might be called Aksumite-Ethiopia style land-use.


Behold, Ethiopians hide a precious item by making several replicas of the same  and displaying each at specified times and in different places. Apparently, it has been interpreted by others that the Arc of the Covenant was hidden by making several tabotat.

B. Post-prosporous Aksumite-Ethiopia; 630-1137A D

Ethiopian maritime activity dwindled as Persian power spread into Yemen. At about the same time, some suggest that population pressure at Aksum, perhaps from settlement by pastoralist from the Sudan, resulted in southward migration of Aksumites.  The Aksumite emperor, who gave asylum to Prophet Mohammed relatives, was buried near Wiqro.  Aksum no longer served as the capital by the time. Yemen was subjugated by Persia, and then Egypt fell to Persian rule. Thereafter, Ethiopia ’s capital city moved further south, even befor Queen Yodit Gudit destroyed Aksum in the 10th century. . Weyan Dega, east of Gondar, was the capital city of the legendary Degnajan of the 10th century. He took hundreds of priests and traveled south and east to evangelize the country. His followers campaigned in Enary (southern Welega through Illubabor to Gamo Gofa), the region of gold mines during the Aksumite period. It was during the Degnajan campaign that the ancestors of Saint Tekla Haymanot settled in eastern Shewa. Over the years, the capital moved south from Aksum , and became established in Lasta, Welo, by 1137.

External trade with India and Rome was  severely hampered. Aksumite-Ethiopia style land-use and internal trade practiced in the prosperous Aksumite era likely continued.

HG: Revised: 1/1/2010





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