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||The ruins of the ancient city of Aksum are found close to Ethiopia's northern
border. They mark the location of the heart of ancient Ethiopia, when the
Kingdom of Aksum was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire
and Persia. The massive ruins, dating from between the 1st and the 13th century
A.D., include monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, royal tombs and the ruins of
ancient castles. Long after its political decline in the 10th century, Ethiopian
emperors continued to be crowned in Aksum.
|The Aksumites were a people formed from the mix of Kushitic speaking people
in Ethiopia and Semitic speaking people in southern Arabia who settled the
territory across the Red Sea around 500 BC. The Aksumites lived in the Ethiopian
highlands near the Red Sea, and so enjoyed a strategic position in the trade
routes between Yemen (in the south of the Arabian peninsula) and the cities of
Nubia. They spoke a strongly Semitic language and wrote in Semitic characters;
Ethiopia, in fact, has one of the longest continuous literate traditions in
Axum is the site of Ethiopia's most ancient city, today a small town, ignorant of its glorious past. The 16th century Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion is built on the site of a much older church probably resembling that of Debre Damo, dating from the 4th century AD. Only a platform and the wide stone steps remain from the earlier structure. The Cathedral is the repository of the crowns of some of Ethiopias former emperors. According to church legend, it also houses the original Ark of the Covenant - thus making St. Marys the holiest sanctuary in Ethiopia.
Sources and links:
Other World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia (on this site). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Ethiopia section for further information about the individual properties.
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Revised 20 jul 2006