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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ North Africa ▸ AxumView Options:  |  |  | 

Axum (Aksumite Kingdom)

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), MHDYS, c. 400 - 450 A.D.

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A curious aspects of Axumite coinage is the use of gilding on some of the silver and bronze coins.

Aksum is the purported home of the Ark of the Covenant. According to regional tradition, the Ark is housed in the Church of Mary of Zion. 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.
GB58754. Bronze AE 15, Munro-Hay 70, BMC Aksumite 293, aVF, weight 1.005 g, maximum diameter 15.3 mm, die axis 0o, Aksum mint, c. 400 - 450 A.D.; obverse Ge'ez legend (MHDYS King of Aksum), draped bust right in head-cloth, flanked by stalks of grain, cross above; reverse Ge'ez legend (By This Cross He Will Conquer), Greek cross with gold gilding in center punch, thick inner circle border, cross above; ex Manfra, Tordella and Brooks Inc (Joseph H. Rose, 1969); 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.
GB77936. Bronze unit, Munro-Hay 52, BMC Aksumite 92 ff., Hahn Aksumite 33, aF, green patina, weight 1.158 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, Aksum mint, late 4th - early 5th century; obverse Greek legend: BACI-ΛEYC (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; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren, ex Alex G. Malloy; 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.
BB48520. Bronze unit, Munro-Hay 51, BMC Aksumite 83 ff., aF, weight 0.357 g, maximum diameter 11.5 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 Sunday, October 22, 2017.
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Axum (Aksumite Kingdom)