Aksum (Axum)

Axum Ethiopian Cuisine   Photo: Africa Access

Location 1934 9th St. N.W. Washington, DC

The Axum restaurant was named for the wealthy, ancient kingdom located in what is now northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. Known also as Aksum, the kingdom lasted for almost a thousand years from the 1st to the 8th centuries AD.

“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.” https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/15/


Stelae at Aksum
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Several stelae survive in the town of Aksum dating between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The largest standing obelisk rises to a height of over 23 meters and is exquisitely carved to represent a nine-storey building of the Aksumites. It stands at the entrance of the main stelae area. The largest obelisk of some 33 meters long lies where it fell, perhaps during the process of erection. It is possibly the largest monolithic stele  that ancient human beings ever attempted to erect.” https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/15/

Aksumite Coin Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The kingdom began to issue coins about AD 270. Aksumite coins were one of major global currencies of the ancient world.

“Silver and bronze [Aksumite] coins were issued for local, everyday use, and generally followed the design of Roman coins with a bust portrait of the ruler in profile on one side. Aksumite coins were the first in the ancient world to carry the cross as a symbol of the ruler’s devotion to the Christian religion.” Walters ArtMuseum




Coin of King Joel, 6th century C.E.  Photo: British Museum

A clearer image of the Christian cross can be seen below on the coin of the Aksumite King Joel, 6th century C.E. Askumite coins were struck in gold, copper and silver. Gold coins were generally inscribed in Greek and intended for international exchange. Silver and copper coins were inscribed in Ge’ez (Aksumite script) and used locally. Khan Academy


“Aksum.” UNESCO World Heritage Siteshttps://whc.unesco.org/en/list/15/ Accessed 8/21/2020.

“The Aksum Kingdom : Trade and Ancient Africa,” PBS Learning Media. htttp:pbslearningmedia.org Accessed 9/14/2020.

“Aksumite Coins.” Khan Academy. Khanacademy.org Accessed 9/6/2020.

“Aksumite Coins,” British Museum in Smarthistory, September 23, 2016, https://smarthistory.org/aksumite-coins/. (Accessed September 6, 2020).

Phillipson, D.W. Ancient Ethiopia: Aksum, its antecedents and successors. London: British Museum Press, 1998.

“The Wealth of Africa: the Kingdom of Askum.” British Museum. www.britishmuseum.org (Accessed 2019).