a state which was located in northern Ethiopia; named after its main city Aksum. The first information about the Aksum kingdom dates from the first century. The kingdom’s advantageous position along the trade routes from India and East Africa to the Mediterranean Sea led to an economic upsurge. The kingdom attained great power at the end of the third century. Under the ruler Ezana (early fourth century) it conquered Cush (Nubia). From the fourth to sixth centuries the kingdom waged a stubborn struggle against the Himyaritic state for hegemony in southern Arabia. The question of Aksum’s social and economic structure has been disputed; some scholars consider it a slaveholding state, while others consider it feudal.
The Aksum culture was closely connected to that of southern Arabia. In the fourth century Christianity entered the Aksum kingdom; it waged a successful struggle against Judaism and strengthened the Byzantine influence. The conquest of southern Arabia by the Persians at the end of the sixth century, and especially the formation of the Arab caliphate (seventh century), cut off the Aksum kingdom from the Mediterranean Sea and brought about its political and cultural decline and gradual disintegration.
REFERENCESTuraev, B. A. Istoriia Drevnego Vostoka, vol. 2, 3rd ed. [Leningrad,] 1936.
Krachkovskii, I. Iu. Vvedeniie ν efiopskuiu fiolologiiu. [Leningrad,] 1955.
Kobishchanov, Iu. M. Aksum. Moscow, 1966.
Doresse, J. L’empire du Prêtre-Jean, vol. 1. [Paris, 1957.]
A. G. LUNDIN