African History 3: Aksum Empire
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Today we're going to tell you all about this Aksum—sorry we mean awesome place called Aksum. At least, it was Aksum (and awesome) about 2000 years ago.
|World History||African History|
Sort of the equivalent of getting shut into one’s locker. [Egypt man inside a locker and Roman soldier closes door]
By 300 CE, Egypt was a small player in the middle of the big bad Roman Empire.
But as Egypt growing old, the kingdom of Aksum was the new hotness in North Africa.
Located in what is now Ethiopia, Aksum wasn't the biggest kingdom in the world, but it had
a prime location.
It was situated on the Red Sea, which was a major trade route connecting East with West. [Ships docking on the Red Sea]
Stuff from India, the Middle East, Africa, and all over the Mediterranean had to pass
The Aksumites built up a powerful navy and dominated trade, making a ton of cashola in [Aksumite man with lots of goods]
Of course, with money comes power.
In the 4th century CE, an ancient Persian dude named Mani called Aksum one
of the five great powers of the ancient world, along with Rome, Persia, India, and China.
And if you can't trust Mani, who can you trust? [Girl falling and Mani preparing to catch her]
The other thing that made Aksum famous was being Christian.
The Aksumites were Christians long before Europe caught the Christianity bug, second
only to Thrace in the Balkans.
Aksum developed out of a prehistoric Jewish society and was converted to Christianity
by some Egyptian Orthodox missionaries.
So when Christianity became…cool, they claimed to be the center of the Christian faith.
The Aksum people even claimed to possess the most holy object in the Jewish and Christian [Aksum man stood outside a door]
faiths, the Ark of the Covenant.
AKA the box that supposedly held the Ten Commandments. [Ten commandments appear from the covenant]
AKA the box that melted all those Nazi faces in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Another fun fact about early Ethiopian Christianity is that it had an unusually large number of
"fasting" days, or days when you're not allowed to eat meat.
Roughly half of all days are considered "fasting" days by the Church, causing a lot of vegetarian [Animals napping on hammocks]
cooking in Ethiopia throughout history.
Also, eating bacon or pork of any kind was banned no matter what day it was.
And no matter how amazing the bacon smelled.
So there you go.
Aksum was truly its own thing.
It was a hugely rich and powerful empire, right up there with Rome and Persia. [Aksum, Rome and Persia on a podium]
And it even came complete with a unique version of Christianity, an interesting culture, and
a Biblical WMD.
Also, the no-bacon thing made it a great place to be a pig… [Pig wearing a hat walking along a beach]