Despite the many tangible old-aged heritages they left behind, little is told about the Da’amat and Axumites, the owners of the Habesha and Abyssnian names. They have had unparalleled power, contribution and history in the whole of Africa. There were many dynasties and kingdoms that were born and died for several centuries until the 21st revolution of Tegaru terminated the process and up-scaled the country into a federated system.

The D’mt Kingdom

Da’amat (also Dʿmt, Ge’ez: ደዐመተ, Tigrigna: ደኣማት) was a kingdom located in Yeha, Tigrai. Its territory included the present day Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. It existed during the 10th to 5th centuries BC. Few inscriptions by or about this kingdom survive and very little archaeological work has taken place. As a result, it is not known whether Dʿmt ended as a civilization before the Kingdom of Aksum’s early stages, evolved into the Aksumite state, or was one of the smaller states united in the Kingdom of Aksum possibly around the beginning of the 1st century.

The capital of Dʿmt was at Yeha, a center of mysterious excavations, and home to a large temple complex, the temple to the god Ilmuqah is still standing. Al-maqah or Al-muqh (Sabaean: 𐩱𐩡𐩣𐩤𐩠‎) was the moon God (and hence the temple of the moon) of the ancient kingdoms of Yemeni, Dʿmt and Aksum.

Daʿamat دعمت in Arabic translates as ‘supported’ or ‘columned’, and may refer to the columns and obelisks (or Hawelti) of Matara or Qohaito.

The Axumite Kingdom

The Kingdom of Aksum (Ge’ez/Tigrigna: መንግስቲ ኣኽሱም), also known as the Kingdom of Axum or the Aksumite Empire, was an ancient kingdom centered in what is now Eritrea and Tigrai. Axumite rulers were styled themselves as King of kings, king of Aksum, Himyar, Raydan, Saba, Salhen, Tsiyamo, Beja and of Kush. Ruled by the Aksumites, it existed from approximately 80 BC to AD 825. The polity was centered in the city of Axum and grew from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period around the 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD. Aksum became a major player on the commercial route between the Roman Empire and Ancient India. The Aksumite rulers facilitated trade by minting their own Aksumite currency, with the state establishing its hegemony over the declining Kingdom of Kush. It also regularly entered the politics of the kingdoms on the Arabian Peninsula and eventually extended its rule over the region with the conquest of the Himyarite Kingdom. The Manichaei prophet Mani (died 274 AD) regarded Axum as one of the four great powers of his time, the others being Persia, Rome, and China.

The Aksumites erected monumental stelae, which served a religious purpose in pre-Christian times. One of these granite columns is the largest such structure in the world, at 90 feet. Under Ezana (flourished 320–360) Aksum adopted Christianity. In the 7th century, early Muslims from Mecca sought refuge from Quraysh persecution by travelling to the kingdom, a journey known in Islamic history as the First Hijra.

The kingdom’s ancient capital, also called Axum, is now a town in Tigrai. The Kingdom used the name “Ethiopia” as early as the 4th century. Axum, in its Mariam Tsion Church, is the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the home of the Queen of Sheba, during whose reign, unique language and alphabet known as Ge’ez was invented, later to give birth to both Tigrigna and Amharic.

Zagwe dynasty

Around 960, Queen Gudit destroyed the remnants of the Kingdom of Aksum, causing a shift in its temporal power centre that later regrouped more to the south. For 40 years she ruled over what remained of the kingdom, eventually passing on the throne to her descendants. According to other Ethiopian traditional accounts, the last of her dynasty was overthrown by Mara Takla Haymanot in 1137. He married a daughter of the last king of Aksum, Dil Na’od. Since he married Emperor Dil Na’od’s daughter, who was a member of the Solomonic Dynasty, the Zagwes are technically part of the Solomonic lineage.

The Zagwe dynasty (Ge’ez: ዛጔ ሥርወ መንግሥት) was the ruling dynasty of a medieval kingdom in present-day northern Ethiopia. The kingdom itself was perhaps called Begwena, after the historical name of the Lasta province. Centered at Lalibela, it ruled large parts of the territory from approximately 900 to 1270, when the last Zagwe King Za-Ilmaknun was killed in battle by the forces of the Showa King Yekuno Amlak. The name of the dynasty is thought to derive from the ancient Ge’ez phrase Ze-Agaw, meaning “opponent”, in reference to the Mara Tekle Hymanote, the founder of the dynasty. Zagwe’s best-known King was Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, who is credited with having constructed the rock-hewn monolithic churches of Lalibela.

David Buxton has stated that the area under the direct rule of the Zagwe kings “probably embraced the highlands of modern Eritrea and the whole of Tigrai, extending southwards to Waag, Lasta and Wollo and thence westwards towards Lake Tana (Begemder).” Unlike the practice of later rulers of Ethiopia, Taddesse Tamrat argues that under the Zagwe dynasty the order of succession was that of brother succeeding brother as king, based on the Agaw laws of inheritance.

Adal Sultanate

The Adal Sultanate, or Kingdom of Adal (alt. spelling Adel Sultanate), was a Muslim Somali kingdom and sultanate located in the Horn of Africa. It was founded by Sabr ad-Din II after the fall of the Sultanate of Ifat. The kingdom flourished from around 1415 to 1577. The sultanate and state were established by the local inhabitants of Zeila. At its height, the polity under Sultan Badlay controlled the territory stretching from Somaliland to the port city of Suakin in Sudan. The Adal Empire maintained a robust commercial and political relationship with the Ottoman Empire.

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