Axum was located in the northern region of modern-day Ethiopia, bordering the Red Sea. Most of the kingdom consisted of hot, desert plains, although some highlands had relatively mild climates. The first Axumite cities developed in the northern part of these Ethiopian highlands.
Axum was the center of important trade routes with the Roman Empire, South Arabia, Nubia, Somalia, and India. Axum’s economy was booming and they had a rich culture. New ideas were exchanged. The kingdom eventually converted to Christianity.
As a central port for trade, Axum imported and exported numerous types of goods. Main imports included iron, precious metals, aromatic substances, glass, fabrics, sugar cane, vegetable oil, and spices. Exports included luxury goods such as ivory, gold, rhinoceros horn, slaves, and live animals.
Axum became so wealthy that it developed its own system of coins. They show signs of influence by Roman coins, and bear inscriptions in Greek, as well as the crescent and disk of Sabeansaxum. Minting its own money, including fine coins of gold, allowed Axum to climb higher up the chain of popular and affluent trading ports.
Greek influence was also seen in the Axumite system of writing. Greek numerals and alphabet style with bars above and below letters were directly adopted into Ge’ez.
Axum was a beautiful city, with large stone buildings and towers, called stelae, which reached 33 meters high. Their purpose is a mystery, although they may have been used to mark the tombs of rulers. Stelae are thought to date from about 300 CE.
Daily life was fun for children. They played a game called “The Cat and the Rat” as they grew up in the wealthy city.
Source: Lifestyle of Axumites
Copyright Samantha Goodsell