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THE STELAE OF AXUM

Axum was the center of the marine trading power known as the Aksumite Kingdom, which predated the earliest mentions in Roman era writings. Around AD 356, its ruler was converted to Christianity by Frumentius. Later, under the reign of Kaleb, Axum was a quasi-ally of Byzantium against the Persian Empire.

The historical record is unclear, primary sources limited mainly to ancient church records.

It is believed it began a long slow decline after the 7th century due partly to Islamic groups contesting trade routes. Eventually Aksum was cut off from its principal markets in Alexandria, Byzantium and Southern Europe and its trade share was captured by Arab traders of the era. The Kingdom of Aksum was finally destroyed by Gudit, and eventually the people of Aksum were forced south and their civilization declined. As the kingdom’s power declined so did the influence of the city, which is believed to have lost population in the decline similar to Rome and other cities thrust away from the flow of world events. The last known (nominal) king to reign was crowned ca. 10th century, but the kingdom’s influence and power ended long before that.

Its decline in population and trade then contributed to the shift of the power center of the Ethiopian Empire so that it moved further inland and bequeathed its alternative place name (Ethiopia) to the region, and eventually, the modern state



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