Aksum (also spelled Axum or Aksoum) is the name of a powerful urban Iron Age Kingdom in Ethiopia, that flourished between the first century BC and the 7th/8th centuries AD. The Aksum kingdom is sometimes known as the Axumite civilization.
The Axumite civilization was a Coptic pre-Christian state in Ethiopia, from about AD 100-800. The Axumites were known for massive stone stelae, copper coinage, and the importance of their large influential port on the Red Sea, Aksum.
Aksum was an extensive state, with a farming economy, and deeply involved in trade by the first century AD with the Roman empire. After Meroe shut down, Aksum controlled trading between Arabia and Sudan, including goods such as ivory, skins, and manufactured luxury goods. Axumite architecture is a blend of Ethiopian and South Arabian cultural elements.
The modern city of Aksum is located in the northeastern portion of what is now the central Tigray in northern Ethiopia, on the horn of Africa. It lies high on a plateau 2200 m (7200 ft) above sea level, and in its heyday, its region of influence included both sides of the Red Sea. An early text shows that trade on the Red Sea coast was active as early as the 1st century BC. During the first century AD, Aksum began a rapid rise to prominence, trading its agricultural resources and its gold and ivory through the port of Adulis into the Red Sea trade network and thence to the Roman Empire.
Trade through Adulis connected eastward to India as well, providing Aksum and its rulers a profitable connection between Rome and the east.
The earliest monumental architecture indicating the beginnings of the polity of Aksum has been identified at Bieta Giyorgis hill, near Aksum, beginning about 400 BC (the Proto-Aksumite period). There, archaeologists have also found elite tombs and some administrative artifacts. The settlement pattern also speaks to the societal complexity, with a large elite cemetery located on the hilltop, and small scattered settlements below. The first monumental building with