The modern city of Aksum (also Axum) is located in the northeastern portion of what is now Ethiopia, on the horn of Africa. It lies high on a plateau 7200 ft above sea level, and in its heyday, its region of influence included both sides of the Red Sea.
The city of Aksum emerged several centuries before the birth of Christ, as the capital of a state that traded with ancient Greece, Egypt and Asia. With its fleets sailing as far afield as Ceylon, Aksum later became the most important power between the Roman Empire and Persia, and for a while controlled parts of South Arabia. Aksum, whose name first appears in the 1st century AD in the Periplus of the Eritrean Sea, is considered to be the heart of ancient Ethiopia.
The ruins of the ancient city of Aksum are located 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 13th centuries, include monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, royal tombs and the ruins of ancient castles. These obelisks, also called stelae, are known to be the tallest single pieces of stone ever quarried and erected in the ancient world. Their age and use is a complete mystery. Long after its political decline in the 10th century, Ethiopian emperors continued to be crowned in Aksum.