The Kingdom of Aksum or Axum, also known as the Aksumite Empire, was a Habasha trading nation in the modern-day area of Eritrea and the Tigray region of Ethiopia. It existed from approximately 100 AD to 940 AD, the Persian Prophet Mani regarded Axum as one of the four great powers of his time, alongside Persia, Rome, and China. The Axumites erected a number of stelae, which served a religious purpose in pre-Christian times. One of these columns is the largest such structure in the world. In the 7th century, early Muslims from Mecca sought refuge from Quraysh persecution by travelling to the kingdom and its ancient capital, also called Aksum, was in northern Ethiopia. The Kingdom used the name Ethiopia as early as the 4th century, tradition claims Axum as the alleged resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the purported home of the Queen of Sheba. Aksum is mentioned in the 1st-century AD Periplus of the Erythraean Sea as an important market place for ivory, which was exported throughout the ancient world. It states that the ruler of Aksum in the 1st century AD was Zoskales and he is also said to have been familiar with Greek literature. They also cite evidence indicating that the Sabaean settlers resided in the region for more than a few decades. Over 95% of Aksum remains unexplored beneath the city and its surrounding area. The Kingdom of Aksum was an empire centered in Eritrea. It existed from approximately 100–940 AD, growing from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period c. 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD, according to the Book of Aksum, Aksums first capital, Mazaber, was built by Itiyopis, son of Cush. The capital was moved to Aksum in northern Ethiopia. The Kingdom used the name Ethiopia as early as the 4th century, the Empire of Aksum at its height at times extended across most of present-day Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The capital city of the empire was Aksum, now in northern Ethiopia, today a smaller community, the city of Aksum was once a bustling metropolis, cultural and economic center. Two hills and two lie on the east and west expanses of the city, perhaps providing the initial impetus for settling this area. Along the hills and plain outside the city, the Aksumites had cemeteries with elaborate grave stones called stelae, other important cities included Yeha, Hawulti-Melazo, Matara, Adulis, and Qohaito, the last three of which are now in Eritrea. By the reign of Endubis in the late 3rd century, it had begun minting its own currency and was named by Mani as one of the four powers of his time along with Persia, Rome
An Axumite jar spout
Axumite Menhir in Balaw Kalaw (Metera) near Senafe
The Ezana Stone records negus Ezana's conversion to Christianity and his subjugation of various neighboring peoples, including Meroë.
The economically important northern Silk Road and southern Spice (Eastern) trade routes. The sea routes around the horn of Africa and the Indian sub-continent made Aksum an important trading port for nearly a millennium.