Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

Living Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith (Editor-in-Chief)

Aksum: Environmental Archaeology

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_863-2


Rising above the Sudanese lowlands to the north and the Red Sea coastal plains to the east, the highlands of northern Ethiopia and Eritrea have long been recognized as a center of plant domestication and host of some of the earliest complex societies of sub-Saharan Africa. The intensification of contacts with southern Arabia in the first millennium BCE favored the development of complex societies and, later, the emergence of the Kingdom of Aksum (c. BCE 140–CE 800). Aksum is located on a gentle plain at the heart of the Tigray highlands (Fig. 1) which provided excellent ground for the new kingdom to thrive for almost a 1000 years by engaging in long-distance trade and commerce, developing literacy and coinage. The adoption of Christianity in the early fourth century CE furthered Aksum’s importance within and beyond northeast Africa. This historical significance has fostered intensive archaeological research in the region, but the history of its diverse environment has...
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This work was supported by the Danish National Research Foundation under the grant DNRF119 - Centre of Excellence for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Urban Network EvolutionsAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Anthropology and ArchaeologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Manuel Arroyo-Kalin
    • 1
  • Dorian Q. Fuller
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK