Aksum is a riddle waiting to be solved. Did the queen of Sheba really call the town’s dusty streets home? Does the very same Ark of the Covenant that holds Moses’ 10 Commandments reside in a small Aksum chapel? Are there still secret hordes of treasure hidden inside undiscovered tombs? And what exactly do those famous stelae signify?
Dr Neville Chittick once described Aksum (often incorrectly spelled Axum) as ‘the last of the great civilisations of Antiquity to be revealed to modern knowledge’. Yet even today, despite being one of the most important ancient sites in sub-Saharan Africa, this Unesco World Heritage Site has revealed only a tiny fraction of its secrets, and an exploration of its ruined tombs and palaces is sure to light a spark of excitement.
Aksum is more than just a collection of lifeless ruins, though. Proudly Tigrian, the town remains rural at heart and has a vibrancy, life and continuing national importance very rarely found at ancient sites. Pilgrims still journey here in the thousands to pay homage at its great churches and what they have no doubt is the magical Ark of the Covenant.