The early history of Aksum, like most Ethiopian history, is shrouded in such a fog of legend that the truth remains largely unknown. While debate continues between historians and the majority of Ethiopians about whether or not Aksum really was the Queen of Sheba’s capital in the 10th century BC, what’s certain is that a high civilisation started to rise here as early as 400 BC.
By the 1st century AD, Greek merchants knew Aksum as a great city and the powerful capital of an extensive empire. For close to 1000 years, Aksum dominated the vital sea-borne trade between Africa and Asia and the kingdom was numbered among the ancient world’s greatest states. But then, quite suddenly, the power of Aksum collapsed and the city turned into a forgotten backwater. Only now, a millennium later, are archaeologists starting to take a serious interest in the city.