Kingdom of Aksum
The Kingdom of Aksum (Ge'ez: መንግሥተ አክሱም), also known as the Kingdom of Axum or the Aksumite Empire, was an ancient Habesha kingdom that controlled what are now Eritrea, Northern Ethiopia, parts of Eastern Sudan and Southern Yemen at its peak. It was centralized in Northern Ethiopia, and its capital was Aksum or Axum. Aksumite rulers styled themselves as King of kings, king of Aksum, Himyar, Raydan, Saba, Salhen, Tsiyamo, Beja and of Kush.
Ruled by the Aksumites, it existed from approximately 80 BC to AD 825. The polity was centered in the city of Aksum and grew from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period around the 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD.
Aksum became a major player on the commercial route between the Roman Empire and Ancient India. The Aksumite rulers facilitated trade by minting their own Aksumite currency, with the state establishing its hegemony over the declining Kingdom of Kush. It also regularly entered the politics of the kingdoms on the Arabian Peninsula and eventually extended its rule over the region with the conquest of the Himyarite Kingdom. The Manichaei prophet Mani (died 274 AD) regarded Aksum as one of the four great powers of his time, the others being Persia, Rome and China. It ruled the South Arabia of Yemen for half a century in the 6th century.
The Aksumites erected monumental stelae, which served a religious purpose in pre-Christian times. One of these granite columns is the largest such structure in the world, at 90 feet. Under Ezana (fl. 320–360) Aksum adopted Christianity. The kingdom's ancient capital, also called Aksum, is now a town in Tigray Region (northern Ethiopia). The Kingdom used the name "Ethiopia" as early as the 4th century. Tradition claims Aksum as the alleged resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the purported home of the Queen of Sheba.