Wikijunior:Ancient Civilizations/Aksum

What country did they live in?


The Aksumites lived in what is now Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. The capital city of their kingdom, also called Aksum, was located in present-day northern Ethiopia.

At the height of their power, the Aksumite controlled parts of present-day Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

What did their buildings look like?


Excavations in Aksum revealed much about Askumite buildings. The central part of the town contained buildings that were square or rectangular. The homes were large, consisting of a lodge surrounded by four smaller buildings. The lodge was built on top of a pavilion, with a wide staircase leading to it. Less wealthy citizens lived in homes surrounding these buildings.

What did they eat?


They ate injera, a flatbread with meats and vegtables

What did their writing look like?


The Aksumite developed the Geez language which died out around 1000 AD, but it is stil used in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox church as a lithurgical language. Some of the languages that are currently spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea, including Amharic, Tigre, and Tigrigna, developed from the Geez language.

Amharic and Tigrigna which are the national languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea respectively, used the adapted form of the Geez script.

The Geez script is a unique script, and is one of the few indigenous African alphabets still in use.

What did they believe?


The Aksumites were pagans until they officially became Christians during the 4th century AD under King Ezana.

Are some of them famous even today?


The legacy of the Aksumite live on through through their immense contribution to the Orthodox churches of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Some of the Aksumites still remembered to this day include King Ezana and King Sayzana, King Kaleb, King Gebre Meskel, and the last king Dil Naod among others.

What is left of them today?


The Aksumites are famously remembered today for their giant oblisks which they used to mark their graves. The Aksumite obelisks which stand tall in the Ethiopian city of Askum, are UNESCO protected sites. The largest standing obelisk is 24m in height, and is the tallest standing human made structure made out of a single rock.

Though the Aksumite kingdom died off more than 1000 years ago, the legacy of the Aksumites still affects the psychic and way of life of most Ethiopians and Eritreans. For example, the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox churches were founded during the Aksumite era.


  1. Past Worlds Harper Collins Atlas of Archaeology. London:Times Books Ltd, 1996.