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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Hellenistic Monarchies| ▸ |Aksumite Kingdom||View Options:  |  |  |   

Aksumite Kingdom (Axum)

At its height, Aksum ruled most of present-day Eritrea, and parts of Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Sudan. After converting to Christianity about 330 B.C., the cross replaced the disc and crescent on coins. Due to climate change and trade isolation, Aksum began to decline in the 7th century when the last coins were issued. Aksum is now a country village in northern Ethiopia. One of the most curious aspects of Axumite coinage is the use of gilding on some of the silver and bronze coins. The amount of gold used would not be enough to significantly change the value of the coin, and the reason for this labor-intensive process remains somewhat a mystery. According to regional tradition, the Ark of the Covenant is housed in the Church of Mary of Zion at Aksum. The Ark, according to legends, was brought to Aksum by King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba's son and placed under guard. No one but the one guard priest is allowed in, thus no one can verify the Ark's existence.


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Ebana, c. 5th Century A.D.

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The gold coins of Ebana are probably "tremisses" based on weight.

The legends of Ebana's coins are debased Greek, with a random starting point, often reversed or upside down and with Λ for A, H for N, and C for B and E.
SH28939. Gold unit, Munro-Hay type 71, JJ 65; BMC Aksumite 306, aVF, weight 1.573 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 0o, obverse +CIN+CΛX+ΛCΛ+CΛC (blundered Greek, interpretation uncertain), crowned and draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, short scepter in right; reverse +BΛC+ΛCΛ+CCC+ΛNΛ (blundered Greek, King Ebana), draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, wearing head cloth, fly-whisk in right; SOLD


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Ebana, c. 5th Century A.D.

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The gold coins of Ebana are probably "tremisses" based on weight.

The legends of Ebana's coins are debased Greek, with a random starting point, often reversed or upside down and with Λ for A, H for N, and C for B and E.
SH28941. Gold unit, Munro-Hay type 71, JJ 65; BMC Aksumite 304, aVF, weight 1.527 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 0o, obverse +CIN+CΛX+ΛCΛ+CΛC (blundered Greek, interpretation uncertain), crowned and draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, short scepter in right; reverse +BΛC+ΛCΛ+CCB+ΛNΛ (blundered Greek, King Ebana), draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, wearing head cloth, fly-whisk in right; SOLD


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Ebana, mid 5th Century A.D.

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The rare obverse legend variation beginning CVN was used on two obverse dies.

The cross type mint mark on the obverse was first identified in the al-Madhariba hoard, published in 1989. The coins of Ebana with mint marks appear to be the earlier issues.

The legends of Ebana's coins are debased Greek, with a random starting point, often reversed or upside down and with Λ for A, H for N, and C for B and E.
SH28938. Gold unit, Munro-Hay type 71, JJ 377 (same dies?, with CVN... obverse variation); Munro-Hay al-Madhariba 355 - 359; BMC Aksumite -, VF, weight 1.556 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 0o, obverse +CVN+CΛX+ΛCΛ+CΛC (blundered Greek, interpretation uncertain), crowned and draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, holding wheat stalk in right, small cross above head; reverse +BAC+ΛCΛ+CCC+ΛHΛ (blundered Greek, King Ebana), draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, wearing head cloth, holding wheat stalk in right; SOLD


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Ebana, c. 5th Century A.D.

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The disk and crescent type mint mark on the obverse was first identified in the al-Madhariba hoard, published in 1989. The coins of Ebana with mint marks appear to be the earlier issues.

In references, the mark over the king's head on the reverse is described as a dot. On this example it appears to be a star or cross.
SH28940. Gold unit, Munro-Hay al-Madhariba 249 - 257; Munro-Hay type 71; BMC Aksumite -, F, weight 1.554 g, maximum diameter 16.2 mm, die axis 0o, obverse +CIN+CΛX+ΛCΛ+CΛC (blundered Greek, interpretation uncertain), crowned and draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, short scepter in right, disk and crescent above head; reverse +BAC+ΛCΛ+CCB+ΛIΛ (or similar, blundered Greek, King Ebana), draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, wearing head cloth, fly-whisk in right, star or cross above head; SOLD


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Armah, Early 7th Century A.D.

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This type was likely the last coinage issued by the Aksumite Kingdom. Due to climate change and trade isolation, Aksum began to decline in the 7th century. Local history holds that a Jewish queen named Yodit (Judith or Gudit) defeated the empire, c. 950 A.D., and burned its churches and literature. There is evidence of an invasion and churches being burned around this time, but her existence is questioned by some modern authors.
GB28095. Bronze AE 19, Munro-Hay 153; BMC Aksumite p. 46, 571 ff.; Anzani 260, F/VF, nice patina, weight 1.319 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 0o, Aksum mint, obverse Ge'ez legend, "King Armah", full-length crowned king enthroned right; reverse Ge'ez legend, "Let there be joy to the people", cross with with gold inlay at center, supported by stem attached to a ring, flanked by two wheat-stalks emerging from the stem; ex Colosseum Coin Exchange; SOLD


Lot of 3 Aksumite Kingdom (Aksum) Coins, c. 400 - 800 A.D.

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Consignor identified the coins as follows (unverified by Forum):
1) Aksumite, AR dinar (Kaleb, c. 520 - 540 A.D.?), 0.53g, crowned bust right / bust right, Fine, chipped flan, rare.
2) Aksumite (Armah, early 7th century A.D.?), AE19, Fine.
3) Aksumite (Anonymous, c. 400 - 500 A.D.?), AE19, cross in wreath, Fine.
LT89284. Mixed Lot, Lot of 3 coins of the Kingdom of Aksum, c. 13.2 - 19.8 mm, no tags or flips, the lot is the actual coins in the photograph, 3 coins; SOLD


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Ousanas, c. 350 - 400 A.D.

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At its height, Aksum ruled most of present-day Eritrea, and parts of Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Sudan. After converting to Christianity, c. 330 B.C., the cross replaced the disk and crescent on coins. Due to climate change and trade isolation, Aksum began to decline in the 7th century when the last coins were issued. Aksum is now a country village in northern Ethiopia.
GB32239. Bronze unit, Munro-Hay 54, BMC Aksumite 245, F, some gilding, weight 1.502 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 345o, obverse + OVAZEBAC BACI LEYC, draped bust right in head-cloth, flanked by stalks of grain; reverse + TOV TO APECH TH XWPA (May This [the cross] Please the Country), small draped bust right in circle; the interior of the circle gilt; SOLD


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Anonymous, Late 4th - Early 5th Century

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According to tradition, the Ark of the Covenant is housed in the Church of Mary of Zion. The Ark, according to legend, was brought to Aksum by Menelik, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. No one, but one guard priest is allowed in, thus no one can verify the Ark's existence. According to the Kebra Nagast, when Menelik, came to visit his father in Jerusalem, his father gave him a copy of the Ark, and commanded the first-born sons of the elders of his kingdom to go to Ethiopia and settle there. The sons of the elders did not want to live away from the presence of the Ark, so they switched the copy with the original and smuggled the Ark out of the country. Menelik only learned that the original was with his group during the journey home.
BB48515. Bronze unit, Munro-Hay 52, BMC Aksumite 92 ff., aF, weight 0.868 g, maximum diameter 12.9 mm, Aksum mint, late 4th - early 5th century; obverse Greek legend: BACI LEYC (King), draped bust right in head-cloth; reverse Greek legend: + TOV TO APECH TH XWPA (May This [the cross] Please the Country), small cross in circle; SOLD


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Anonymous, Late 4th - Early 5th Century

Click for a larger photo
According to tradition, the Ark of the Covenant is housed in the Church of Mary of Zion. The Ark, according to legend, was brought to Aksum by Menelik, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. No one, but one guard priest is allowed in, thus no one can verify the Ark's existence. According to the Kebra Nagast, when Menelik, came to visit his father in Jerusalem, his father gave him a copy of the Ark, and commanded the first-born sons of the elders of his kingdom to go to Ethiopia and settle there. The sons of the elders did not want to live away from the presence of the Ark, so they switched the copy with the original and smuggled the Ark out of the country. Menelik only learned that the original was with his group during the journey home.
BB48518. Bronze unit, Munro-Hay 51, BMC Aksumite 83 ff., Fair, weight 0.631 g, maximum diameter 12.2 mm, Aksum mint, late 4th - early 5th century; obverse Greek legend: BACI LEYC (King), draped bust right in head-cloth; reverse Greek legend: + TOV TO APECH TH XWPA (May This [the cross] Please the Country), small cross in circle; SOLD


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Anonymous, Late 4th - Early 5th Century

Click for a larger photo
According to tradition, the Ark of the Covenant is housed in the Church of Mary of Zion. The Ark, according to legend, was brought to Aksum by Menelik, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. No one, but one guard priest is allowed in, thus no one can verify the Ark's existence. According to the Kebra Nagast, when Menelik, came to visit his father in Jerusalem, his father gave him a copy of the Ark, and commanded the first-born sons of the elders of his kingdom to go to Ethiopia and settle there. The sons of the elders did not want to live away from the presence of the Ark, so they switched the copy with the original and smuggled the Ark out of the country. Menelik only learned that the original was with his group during the journey home.
BB48516. Bronze unit, Munro-Hay 52, BMC Aksumite 92 ff., Fair, weight 1.377 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, Aksum mint, late 4th - early 5th century; obverse Greek legend: BACI LEYC (King), draped bust right in head-cloth; reverse Greek legend: + TOV TO APECH TH XWPA (May This [the cross] Please the Country), small cross in circle; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

Anzani, A. Numismatica Axumita. RIN III, Series 3, XXXIX (IV). (Milan, 1926).
Hahn, W. "Aksumite Numismatics - A critical survey of recent Research" in Revue Numismatique 2000.
Munro-Hay, S. & B. Juel-Jensen. Aksumite Coinage. (London, 1995).
Munro-Hay, S. Catalogue of the Aksumite Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1999).
Munro-Hay, S. "The al-Madhariba hoard of gold Aksumite and late Roman coins" in NC 149. (1989). pp. 83.
Vaccaro, F. "Previously serialised as 'Tipologia Numismatica Aksumita'" in Italia Numismatica, 1966-1967.

Catalog current as of Friday, December 13, 2019.
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Aksumite Kingdom