How King Endubis of the Great Kingdom of Aksum Became the First Ruler of Ancient Africa to Mint Coins
The Ancient Kingdom of Aksum was in existence from 100AD to 940 AD. It stretched across East Africa and included Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Djibouti as well as Sudan. Situated in the northern province of Tigray, Aksum was the capital of Ethiopia until the seventh century CE. The Ancient kingdom had power over southern Egypt and the Gulf of Aden, as well the Omo River territory. Its power stretched as far as the Cushite Kingdom of Meroe to the west.
Aksum is well known for its large stone towers and beautiful architecture. It is known as one of the most powerful empires to ever exist in Africa. Aksum traded commodities between India and the Mediterranean. It was involved in exporting gold, emeralds, silk, spices and tortoiseshell.
The kingdom was so powerful when it came to exporting and trading with other territories, it eventually began to produce its own coins in 270 CE, at this time King Endubis ruled the kingdom. Some historians claim that Endubis was the first prominent king of Ancient Africa to mint coins.
Endubis became king after the collapse of ancient Egypt and Nubia. It has been reported that Aksumite currency was the first native currency utilized in Africa that was not directly influenced by the Greeks or Romans.
King Endubis launched the currency to facilitate trading, he also standardized government taxation. The kingdom of Aksum had a thriving economy at that time and the currency greatly improved economic growth. The coins were made using gold, silver and bronze and they were engraved using Greek lettering and numerals to facilitate the trade between the Greeks and Romans.
The coins were engraved with Endubis’ image on the front and back of the coins. There were also two ears of wheat or barley around the head of the king. This might have symbolized the king’s control and power over the state.
In the 4th century, the kingdom began to develop an interest in Christianity and according to historians, it became the first kingdom to place the crucifix on its coins. Under the reign of King Ezana, the cross replaced other symbols on the coins and eventually, the coins became a powerful religious promotional tool.
Later on, the coins were engraved with statements like ‘By the Grace of God.’ The coins represented the sign of the times in the Aksum kingdom. However, the coinage system became obsolete at the beginning of the 7th century when the kingdom of Aksum began to lose power.
Some historical evaluators have connected the fall of the Aksum kingdom to climate change which led to deforestation and unpredictable rainfall. Some also believe that the Alexandria and Byzantium(Istanbul) empires played a part as they rose to prominence around this time. Also, the Arabs were beginning to dominate in all areas of trade, import and export along the Red Sea trade routes.
Something Lighthearted and Something Serious — — Africa Rising
Aksum was like a real-life ancient version of Wakanda. People think that Wakanda is just a fictional place but in reality, Wakanda existed many moons ago. Africa is rising now and African leaders need to continue to tap into the innovative, Africa-centred strategies of the ancient rulers. Refocusing and rethinking economic strategies without relying on the west to pull Africa out of difficult economic times, developing agriculture, and exporting commodities to build solid trade deals and pathways to ensure the long-term development of Africa as a continent and powerful global player.
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