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Before the country known today as Ethiopia was established, the land it occupies was known as the kingdom of Aksum, and this kingdom is believed to have been located between the coast of the red sea and the Nile river. The place from which the kingdom was ruled is said to have been situated on the land lately known as Tigre or land occupied by today’s Ethiopia and Eritrea. During the years of its peak, the kingdom of Aksum stretched across the red sea to include parts of Arabia, which is now Yemen. In addition, during this same period Aksumite empire also stretched in Asia, thus, resulted in mixed Economic, Social and cultural influence in this Kingdom. The Aksumite kingdom is claimed by legend to have been found in the 1st century BC, and it obtained prominence in the 4th century AD. As from the 4th century AD the Aksumite kingdom was referred to as Aithiopia by Arab writers who visited the kingdom around this century. These writers used the Greek word Aithiopia to refer to the land occupied by the dark-skinned people, and when the Europeans arrived in this kingdom the word Aithiopia was integrated into Ethiopia, which translates as “burnt faces” in English. Since then Ethiopia has been used in replacement of Aksumite empire. This empire existed from the first century until 1975, when its last emperor was dethroned by the military. The rising of the Ethiopian empire and its downfall is because of differing factors, so in this assignment I am going to explain these factors by looking at different events that contributed to the rising and downfall of this great African empire. Hartmann. W ; Kotze. C, (2009).

The factors that contributed to the rise of the ancient empire of Ethiopia
Economic factor- The position of the kingdom of Aksum between Persia, roman empire and the far east helped it in establishing a powerful economy. Aksum was very powerful to an extent that it started trading with the Roman Byzantium Empire which was one of the most powerful empire in this era. People who lived in the town of Adulis and Aksum produced their own food, they farmed different crops and kept livestock. Aksum controlled the trade in metals like gold and silver and other goods that were consider valuable or luxurious, and those that were harvested, haunted and collected in other parts of west peninsula and northeast Africa. In addition to the above-mentioned commodities, Aksum traded ivory, obsidian, hippopotamus hides and rhinoceros horns, spices, tortoise ostrich shells, etc. HYPERLINK “” The international relation that Aksum had with Rome, Persia and China gave her much power over small kingdoms. Using the port of Adulis, Aksum could control and had access to international trade routes of this age. The ivory that Aksum exported to Rome was used to produce jewellery and decorations which the Roman Catholic Church used, such as the image of Holly Mary. The rhino horns were sold to Indians who pounded them and used the powder to improve sexual performance. In addition to the above-mentioned commodities, Aksum also traded slaves, and these were usually war criminals or offenders provided by the community to the king as tributes. The minting of its own currency in the 4th century AD also helped in the trading process as Aksum could use her currency to buy things from other communities. It is also important to know that Salt was one of the commodities that Aksum traded. HYPERLINK “” The kingdom benefited from a major transformation of the maritime trading system that linked The Roman Empire with India. This change took place around the start of the 1st century. The older trading system involved coastal sailing and many intermediary ports. The Red Sea was of secondary importance to the Persian Gulf and overland connections to the Levent. Starting around 100 BC a route from Egypt to India was established, making use of the Red Sea and using monsoon winds to cross the Arabian Sea moving to Southern India. By about 100 AD, the volume of traffic being shipped on this route had eclipsed older routes. Roman demand for goods from southern India increased dramatically, resulting in greater number of large ships sailing down the Red Sea from Roman Egypt to the Arabian Sea and India.
The Kingdom of Aksum was ideally located to take advantage of the new trading situation. In the later years Adulis became the main port for the export of African goods, such as ivory, incense, gold, slaves, and animal products. In order to facilitate the trading of these commodities, the kings of Aksum worked to develop and expand an inland trading network. A rival, and much older trading network that tapped the same interior region of Africa was that of the Kushite kingdom, which had long supplied Egypt with African goods using the Nile route. However, in the first century AD, the kingdom of Aksum occupied the territory which was under the Kushite empire. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea clearly describes how ivory collected in Kushite territory was being exported through the port of Adulis instead of being taken to the port of Meroe, which was the capital of Kush. During the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD the Kingdom of Aksum continued to expand their control of the southern Red Sea basin. A caravan route to Egypt was established which bypassed the Nile corridor entirely. Aksum succeeded in becoming the principal supplier of African goods to the Roman Empire, because of the transformed Indian Ocean trading system.
Military factors
Since the establishment of the aksumite kingdom, it had a strong military which she used to attack smaller weak kingdoms, and annex them into her great kingdom. Just from the 4th century king Ezana started expanding the kingdom, and this carried on with the Zagwe Dynasty in the 11th- 13th century. From the 13th- 16th century the Solomonid became the new royal family of Ethiopia, and in the next years the new royal family. Amda Siyon was one of this royal family who expanded the kingdom by conquering areas like Damot and Hadya, and then the Falasha polity and with Gojjam. Amda Siyon’s success was as a result of having a great army. In the 1330s Siyon conquered Ifat, which was the biggest muslim polity, consequently, this led to Dawaro and Sharkha becoming voluntary members of the Ethiopian empire.

To add on, in 1885, another ambitious king took power in the Ethiopian Empire and his name was Tewodoros ii. This new leader was politically and military exoerienced. Under his leadership, Tewodoros conquered Showa, he also made some changes by moving the capital from Gondar to a new place of Magdala. In addition to these achievements, Tewodoros started paying his soldiers, he also deliberated mixed soldiers from different parts of Ethiopia into regiments to avoid the disloyal soldiers who could plan an attack on him. Tewodoros really improved the Ethiopian army, in his term he bought weapons that were to be used by his army. In addition, he established roads which helped in transportation of the bought weapons to different army bases. In conclusion with the military factor, I would like to remind you that Tewodoro was not the last king od Ethiopia. He was followed by Johannes iv, Menilek ii who conquered the Italians at the battle of Adowa in 1889 and then lastly King Haile Silassie who is regarded as the founder of the African Union, African education system and a lot more.

Factors that contributed to the fall of Ethiopian Empire.

The discussion above is based on factors that let to the successes of the Ethiopian Kingdom, however, no we are going to explain the other factors which contributed to the decline of this African great empire. The first one is the Muslim invasions. You can remember that after King Ezana accepted Christianity in the 4th century, and declared it the religion of his subjects, there was just few centuries of years that passed then Muhamed established another religion in the middle east by around 670 AD. This new religion started to have quarrels between its members, so some ran to the Christian kingdom of Aksum for accommodation, but after few years Aksum nomore welcomed the Islam refugee, but she started persecuting them or killing them.

From the 8th century Islam became too powerful and it started conquering some of the land that belonged to the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia. This included the losing of the Dahlak island by Ethiopia, and the occupation of Zeila which was a very important in the long-run of the Islam compaigns. Towards the last quatas of the 11th century Islam had already occupied Harar plateau which was the hinterland of Zeila. Furthermore, More and more Muslim attacks followed since the 8th century, which resulted in the declining of the Ethiopian power. HYPERLINK “” Another contributing factor, was the pastoralist called the Oromo who migrated into the heartland of Ethiopia during the 15th century war between The Muslim worls and the Ethiopian kingdom.

To further on, The Gondar era and the European attempt to convert Ethiopians into Catholicism also hit Ethiopia badly, as civil war broke out between the royal house and the commoners. In addition to this, is the Italian war with Ethiopia in 1935, which totally disrupted Ethiopia and led to Emperor Haile Silassie’s Exile. To conclude, Famine, hunger and Draught also contributed to the last stroke of the Ethiopian Empire.

To sum up my topic, I would say the Aksumite/Ethiopian Empire enjoyed much of success than it suffered. From evidence presented in this writing, it is clear enough that this kingdom is the first and greatest empire to ever rise from Africa. On the other hand, Islam also symbolizes greatness archived by the African people, as it was founded by one of its sons “Mohamed” but it managed to emerge into a world religion like the European Christianity. Furthermore, I recommend more research on the topic of the founders of the Ethiopian kingdom.

1. Hartmann. W; Kotze. C, (2009). African civilization. Centre For External Studies. University of Namibia. Windhoek


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