• Uncategorized



Inancient African history, Axum has played a major role. Considerabledocumented evidence on Axum still exists from Axum itself whileothers are derived from Christian and Greco-Roman visitors. It wasthe major surviving Christian tradition outpost after the rise ofIslam that had spread across northern and northeastern parts ofAfrica. Despite its decline by the 8th-century C.E, the AxumiteEmpire demonstrated an impressive continuity, culturally andreligiously. The city of Axum still survived as a major Christianpilgrimage site and venue for crowning Ethiopian kings well into the20th century. This paper will review Inscriptionon a Stone Throneand TheChristian Topography whichare two documents provided in Strayer Robert’s Waysof the World: A Brief Global History(2016), that offer a window series about this ancient Africankingdom. The paper will also analyze Axum’s relationship with theworld beyond its borders.


Inscriptionon a Stone Throneis a document dated to the second or third centuries C.E thatdescribes the empire’s history and some of the quests that gaverise to the empire’s rule. According to the texts, the empire wasat its highest during the mid-fourth century C.E. the ruler, Axum,presided over an empire that stretched from the Upper Nile in Meroe,across lands that are presently Ethiopia and Eritrea to parts ofsouthern Arabia located on the other side of the Red Sea.Itis an Axumite inscription in Greek on a stone throne republished inthe sixth century by Cosmas, a merchant from Greek.Accordingto the text, Axum went to war and conquered several nations intosubjection.1Some of the nations listed in the inscription include Gaze, Agame,Sigye, Tangaltae near Egypt, Annine and Metine tribes, Sesea, thetribes of Rhausi, Arabitae, Cinaedocolpitae (southern Arabia) andSolate. She gained lands, slaves, and tribute from most of thisconquered lands.

Theother document that makes reference to Axum was written by Cosmas, amerchant as already pointed out, in the 6th century C.E. the documentdescribes how Axum conducted trade with other nations. According toCosmas’s TheChristian Topography,the Axumite king traded for gold with the nation of Sasu every yearthrough his governor in Agau and about 500 traders.2In exchange for the gold, the king’s representatives traded salt,iron, and oxen. Due to a language barrier and lack of interpreters,trading was often conducted in an unusual way. After reaching thetrading destination, Axum`s traders built settlements surrounded by ahuge thorny hedge. On this hedge, they would place slaughtered piecesof oxen meat, lumps of salt and the iron, their trading commodities.Then the natives would come bringing along their gold in nuggets andlay then upon the Axum commodity that pleases them.3 The Axumite commodity owner would then approach and if he/she ispleased with the gold, he takes it away and consequently, the nativetrader would come and take the meat, salt or flesh away. If the termsare not satisfactory, the Axumite leaves the gold and the nativetrader has to either add more gold or leave with his initial offer.This occasion lasted for about five days.4The natives would buy up almost all of the Axumite commodities inreturn for their gold. In their return journeys, they had to be wellarmed to defend themselves against the tribes through whose landsthey had to pass through as they might threaten to rob them of theirgold.

Axum`svarious relationships with the world beyond its borders

Basedon these documents, I can describe Axum’s various relationshipswith the world beyond its borders as highly unpredictable andvarying. The Axumite Empire went to war with most of its neighborsand conquered their lands and people. The same empire traded withother nations like the Sasu.5The relationship was always suspicious, tense and lacked any trust.Even during trading, the fact that they did so behind thorny fencesproved that the world beyond its borders did not trust Axum probablydue to his warring nature. Another factor that could have led to thisstrained relationship was the language barrier.


Strayer,Robert W. Ways of the World: A Brief Global History, with Sources,Vol. 1. 3rd ed. MacMillan Higher Education, 2016.ISBN-978-1-319-01841-2.

1 Strayer, Robert W. Ways of the World: A Brief Global History, with Sources, Vol. 1. 3rd ed. MacMillan Higher Education, 2016

2 Strayer, Ways of the World, 2016.

3 Ibid

4 Ibid

5 Ibid