by Bruke Teshome

The northern, central and southern Ethiopian regions were some of the earliest known sites of humans and human culture. They were important centers of economic activity that linked the Ethiopian region with the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean coast. The ancient port of Avalite(Zeila) and Malao(Berbera) in the north attracted the central and the southern Ethiopian merchants while the trade of the Borena region similarly attracted merchants of the northern and central regions of Ethiopia.

In northern Ethiopia Yeha, Hawalti-Malazo, Addi Saglama, Tokonda and Cehayto were pre-Axumite cities which played the leading role in the development of ancient civilization in northern Ethiopia.

Yeha was the oldest pre-Axumite center, which had a well developed culture and technology. It emerged around 1000BC. Yeha maintained a strong trade contact with south Arabian merchants.

The ancient site of Hawlti Malazo is located is located in the south east of Axum
The first historically known sites in the horn of Africa were punt and Damat some historians argue that the territory of Punt constituted present day Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Punt maintained trade with ancient Egypt .The ancient state of Damat was located to the south of Axum . It was the first locally known site in Ethiopia. Damat established its external relations with south Arabia . It is also known that Damat used the port of Adulis as an outlet for its trade.

Axum was one of the earliest centers of civilization in the present northernmost Ethiopia. We don't know exactly when Axum became a unified state or how it became the strongest of the city states that existed in the region at the time, but one thing was already clear by the middle of the first century AD. Axum was an important commercial kingdom in the horn of Africa.


The ancient history of Axum has been documented and analyzed much, and it deserves this analysis. The magnificent monolithic state, huge buildings, beautiful temples and churches that have been unearthed by archeologists suggest that axum had a highly developed technology. For such construction projects, the Axumite rulers might have used cheap slave labor.


1. Axum lost its south Arabian territories because of
the Persian invasion. The Persians controlled the
whole of Arabia by the year 602 A.D. After this,
the Persians interrupted Axumite trade with
India and Ceylon

2. The spread of Islam and the Moslem conquest
isolated Axum from her trading partners and her
ports were also captured by Moslems.

3. The Bejas began to invade the Axumite territories.
This was in the 8th and 9th centuries.
Because of this, the capital of the Axumite
empire was moved southwards to the area of lake
Haiq (the name of a lake found in Wolo).

4. There might have been a sharp class contradiction
between the ruling class and the ruled , as a result
of which the Axumite state was weakened.



The circumstance which led to the power of this dynasty as well as the number of kings who ruled the kingdom is uncertain. acording to one historian, the last Axumite king gave his daughter in marriage to one of his commanders called Mera Tklehaymanot who was from Bugena Lasta. This commander revolted against the king, defeated him in battle, and seized the throne in 1150.

The term Zagwe means the dynasty of the Agew, the place where the dynasty came from. The Agew people had been influenced by the Axumite tradition and had even adopted Christianity. The rise of the Zagwe was not a break in the Axumite tradition, it was a development within the Christian kingdom in which the central parts became the most important region. The Zagwe kings were Christians who used Geez in the churches. At first the founder of this dynasty was opposed by the supporters of Axumite kings and the church, but later on they won the support these opponents through their effort to spread Christianity


The reign of Lalibela (1181-1221) marked the zenith of the Zagwe dynasty . Rulers continued the friendly contact with foreign countries, especially Egypt. He sent two diplomatic missions to Cairo with Sala-Al-Din, who was impressed by the gifts, and gave many sites to the Ethiopian Christians in Jerusalem. The number of Ethiopian Christians who visited the holy land increased.

Besides cultural contact, there were also trade contacts with Egypt and other countries. The kingdom exported slaves, ivory, and rare spices, while it imported silver and copper, various types of drugs, corals and minted coins. Both land sea routes were used. Trade by sea was conducted through Zeila, the chief port of the kingdom


Lalibela helped in the spread of Christianity by giving land to many important church and monastries.He is remembered in constructing some of the rock-hewn church at Adafa Though artisans from Eastern Mediterranean regions may have been used,the style shows that are a continuous development of Axumite art and architecture. Translations of some religious works from Arabic into geeze were made and also Amahic appeared into gain wide importance during the Zagwe period.


After the death of Lalibela there was an armed struggle for power between his son Yetbarek and his nephew, Na'akuto La'ab. Furthermore, the military superiority of the Zagwe people declined, while opposition to Zagwe kings came from the king of Damot, who refused to pay tribute and declared independence. This internal struggle strengthened the semetic speaking people of Tigrai and Amhara, who organized themselves to overthrow the Zagwe dynasty. Finally, Yikunno Amlak, who estabilished an independent kingdom in Amahara and Shoa, defeated Yitbarek, the last king of Zagwe, and declared himself king of Christian highland kingdom.

FOR Dr Henry Gilbert

Thank you very much for making me do this thing and giving me most of the knowledge about computers


Tesfaye Zergaw,(2001)The Servay History of World,Africa and Ethiopia.Mega Publishing Enterprise.Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Fekadu Begna,Ahmed Hassen (1999) HISTORY(grade 9) Mega Publishing Enterprise Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Teklesadik Mekuria(1993) ETHIOPIAN HISTORY(NUBIA) Berhan ena selam Printing Enterprize