Kingdoms of Kush and AxumMany of the peoples of West Africa trace their origins to the Nile River Valley . Egypt , though it may have been the “Gift of the Nile,” was but the tip of the vast Nile Valley culture. In 666 BC, however, the Assyrians conquered Egypt. The African rulers and much of the populace migrated to and over time assimilated into the kingdom of Kush just to the south, greatly enriching it with their contributions.  In time Kush’s capital was moved south from NAPATA to MEROE as Kush began to orient itself southward toward the source of the Nile and the heart of the continent. Its control spread well up both branches of the longest river in the world. MEROE was in easy caravan reach of the Red Sea and the seagoing commerce it enabled. A plentiful supply of iron ore and wood led to the development of iron industry in MEROE as early as 500 BC.             

The kingdom of Kush , and its capital MEROE , would last for more than a thousand years. Eventually, however, (200 AD) they were overshadowed by the ancient Ethiopian kingdom based in the city of AXUM . In 400 AD, MEROE was attacked and destroyed. Just as the Egyptians had earlier migrated to Kush , now the Kushites themselves began a massive exodus that would ripple all the way out to the southern and western limits of the continent.

 AXUM, KUSH’S successor, was situated in the Ethiopian highlands, not far from where the Red Sea empties out into the Gulf of Aden . The port city for AXUM was the Red Sea port of ADULIS . AXUM traded trinkets, wine, cloth and finished iron goods with the peoples of the interior for iron ore, hides, gold and enslaved Africans. These were shipped from the port of ADULIS and traded in Arabia , Persia , Constantinople and India .       

At its height, in the fourth and fifth centuries AD, the Axumite kingdom controlled much of Arabia, modern day Eritrea , Ethiopia and Sudan . AXUM was the seed that blossomed into the legendary kingdom of Ethiopia . It is said that the first Axumite (Ethiopian) king was Menelik, the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. It’s believed that the original Ark of the Covenant was taken to Ethiopia by Menelik and is still kept in AXUM . The fourth century Ethiopian king, Ezana, converted to Christianity thereby making Ethiopia the first Christian nation. . .  

( This is an excerpt from, Africa Is Not A Country: It’s A Continent, by Dr. Arthur Lewin, )