CODeL ASSIGNMENT COVER 2018
AFRICAN CIVILSATION HGE 3581
Assignment no (e.g. 1, 2 or 3, etc.).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. FACTORS THAT LED TO THE RISE OF ANCIENT EMPIRE OF ETHIOPIA
3. FACTORS WHICH CONTRIBUTED TO THE FALL OF THE ANCIENT EMPIRE OF ETHIOPIA
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 and slaves. 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 them 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.
The economically important northern Silk Road and southern Spice (Eastern) trade routes. The sea routes around the horn of Africa and the Indian sub-continent made Aksum an important trading port for nearly a millennium.
Covering parts of what is now northern Ethiopia and southern and eastern Eritrea, Aksum was deeply involved in the trade network between India and the Mediterranean (Rome, later Byzantium), exporting ivory, tortoise shell, gold and emeralds, and importing silk and spices. Aksum’s access to both the Red Sea and the Upper Nile enabled its strong navy to profit in trade between various African (Nubia), Arabian (Yemen), and Indian states.
The main exports of Aksum were, as would be expected of a state during this time, agricultural products. The land was much more fertile during the time of the Aksumites than now, and their principal crops were grains such as wheat and barley. The people of Aksum also raised cattle, sheep, and camels. Wild animals were also hunted for things such as ivory and rhinoceros horns. They traded with Roman traders as well as with Egyptian and Persian merchants. The empire was also rich with gold and iron deposits. These metals were valuable to trade, but another mineral was also widely traded: salt. Salt was abundant in Aksum and was traded quite frequently
It benefited from a major transformation of the maritime trading system that linked the Roman Empire and 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 Levant. 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 directly 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. Adulis soon became the main port for the export of African goods, such as ivory, incense, gold, slaves, and exotic animals. In order to supply such goods, 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, not least because of the transformed Indian Ocean trading system.
The Empire of Aksum is notable for a number of achievements, such as its own alphabet, the Ge’ez script which was eventually modified to include vowels, becoming an abugida. Furthermore, in the early times of the empire, around 1700 years ago, giant Obelisks to mark emperors’ (and nobles’) tombs (underground grave chambers) were constructed, the most famous of which is the Obelisk of Aksum.
Under Emperor Ezana, Aksum adopted Christianity in place of its former polytheistic and Judaic religions around 325. This gave rise to the present day Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (only granted autonomy from the Coptic Church in 1953), and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church (granted autonomy from the Ethiopian Orthodox church in 1993). Since the schism with orthodoxy following the Council of Chalcedon (451), it has been an important Miaphysite church, and its scriptures and liturgy continue to be in Ge’ez
Political factors- Ethiopian Empire was ruled by an Emperor, who was assisted by smaller kings, chiefs and some prince from differing kingdoms, chiefdoms and principalities. By the 3rd century AD, Aksum became one of the four great and powerful empires in the whole world under the leadership of its first Christian King Ezana. In the 4th century Aksum has already expanded to include Nubia, which stretched south to the lake of tana and other portions of southern Arabia which was across the red sea. In addition, by the end of the 4th century AD the Aksumite kingdom included areas of Modern day Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen. To move on, lets look at the contributions of the Zagwe Dynasty into the rise of this kingdom. It is believed that the Zagwe dynasty took over the leadership from the Ancient royal house of Axum in the 11th century after the royal family was struck by the Muslims. Mera Tekla Haymanot was the king of the Zagwe Dynasty who overthrew the royal family, and under his leadership, Ethiopia established a huge number of trained soldiers who were used to conquer lake tana, Gojjam and the whole area of Ethiopian highlands. During the Zagwe dynasty, traditional chiefs and rulers were removed, new governors and administrators who were loyal to the king and were Christians took over. These governors and administrators were given power by the Zagwe king to protect and administer the districts given to them by the king, in return they were given properties and right to levy taxes from the local people. However, in the 13th century AD the Zagwe Dynasty was overthrown by Yekunno-Amlak, who established the Solomonid dynasty. Auaner the Solomonid dynasty Ethiopia managed to conquer territories, like Damot and Hadya