Axum

The earliest christian kingdom in the world, the home to the (Lost) Ark of the Covenant, the only African kingdom to create it’s own language and Alphanumeric system called Geez (that made the present day Ethiopian language and Education system), the first African capitol next to Yeha, the first Ethiopian city to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the last of the great civilizations, one of the few most powerful kingdoms of the world in its time… yes, that’s Axum (also spelled as Aksum). Many books call the city the `royal throne of the kings of Zion, mother of all lands, pride of the entire universe, jewel of kings’ (Levine 1974: 111).

The cathedral of Maryam Tseyon, or Mary of Zion, called Gabaza Aksum, was the holiest place in the Ethiopian Christian kingdom, and still houses the world’s most sacred artifact, the Ark of the Covenant, supposedly brought from Jerusalem by the first emperor, Menelik. Tradition says that he was the son of king Solomon of Israel and the queen of Sheba conceived during the queen’s famous visit to Jerusalem. Although no information survives in the legends about the ancient Aksumite rulers who really built the palaces and erected the giant stone obelisks or stelae which still stand in several places around the town, these monuments are locally attributed in many instances to Menelik or to Makeda, the queen of Sheba or queen of Azab (the South).