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The Ezana Stone is a monument from the ancient Kingdom of Aksum

Marija Georgievska

The Ezana Stone is an artifact from the ancient Kingdom of Aksum. It is a stone monument which documents the conversation of King Ezana to Christianity and his subjugation of various neighboring areas, including Meroë.

It is one of the few ancient written records to come from pre-Islamic Africa, Egypt being the other major source of inscriptions. Photo Credit

It is one of the few ancient written records to come from pre-Islamic Africa, Egypt being the other major source of inscriptions. Photo Credit

The Kingdom of Aksum (or Axum), also known as the Aksumite Empire, was a trading nation in the area of Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia. It existed from approximately 100-940 AD.

It grew from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period in the 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD, as a major player in the commercial route between the Roman Empire and Ancient India.

The stone stands more or less where it was originally erected. Photo Credit

The stone stands more or less where it was originally erected. Photo Credit

Ezana, the king of Axum, ruled in the 4th century. He was the first Axumite ruler to embrace Christianity but the inscription on the stone is from the pagan era, as Ezana calls himself the son of the deity Mahrem and the Christian God is not mentioned.

The text on the Ezana Stone is written in several languages. Photo Credit

The text on the Ezana Stone is written in several languages. Photo Credit

He fought against the Nubians and commemorated his victories on stone tablets written in Ge’ez (the ancient Eritrean/Ethiopian language), Sabaean (South Arabian) and Greek in praise of God.

His carvings in stone provided a trilingual monument in different languages, similar to the Rosetta stone.

King Ezana ruled the Axumite Kingdom during the first half of the fourth century . Photo Credit

King Ezana ruled the Axumite Kingdom during the first half of the fourth century . Photo Credit

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church had its beginnings during this period. Rufinus’s Ecclesiastical History narrates that Saint Frumentius, a slave of the very young King, converted him to Christianity.

It appears King Ezana erected several Ezana Stones during his reign, including one in what is now southern Sudan. Photo Credit

It appears King Ezana erected several Ezana Stones during his reign, including one in what is now southern Sudan. Photo Credit

Towards the end of his reign, King Ezana launched a campaign against the Kushites around 350 which brought down the Kingdom of Kush.

Various stone inscriptions written in Ge’ez have been found at Meroë, the central city of the Kushites.

An Ethiopian version of the Rosetta Stone. Photo Credit

An Ethiopian version of the Rosetta Stone. Photo Credit

Here is another fun read from us: One of the earliest surviving stone inscriptions of the Ten Commandments goes on sale in New York

Christianity remained the primary religion in Ethiopia from Frumentius’s day to the present.