Axum, Ethiopia is in the far north of the country. Axum has 3000 years of history and was the capital of the country ruled by the Queen of Sheba of Biblical fame. The ruins of her palace and bath are said to be here, though scientifically these ruins do not appear to be old enough. The bath was quite possibly a water storage reservoir and is very impressive because it is hewn out of solid rock.
Ethiopians also believe that the Ark of the Covenant is here. The story goes that it was brought here by Menelik in the 1st millennium BC. He was the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The Ark is kept in the compound of the Church of St. Mary of Zion. Only men are allowed near the church and no one is allowed inside it. A new church was built by the 1960s by Haile Salassie that women are allowed in.
While we were there a colorful procession began inside the church and then marched around the church three times.
If this was not enough for a small village like Axum, there are several stelae fields here. Here in northeast Africa, these stelae were used as tombstones and monuments to local rules. These stelae are created from single pieces of granite and one is over 100 feet tall.
The largest and most recent field, though still very old, has at least 120 stelae in it and some more may lay buried. There were tombs under some of these stelae that have been excavated, which we were able to go into.
There is quite a debate as to who founded Ethiopia. Not to far from Axum is Yeha and here maybe a clue. Yeha is considered Ethiopia's first capital.
Here is found a structure dating from 500 to 800 BC and it's construction is stunning. It is believed to be a temple and has features similar to one found in Yemen. There are finely dressed sandstone blocks that are over 10 feet long and perfectly fit together without mortar. The temple is a joy in geometry and is very interesting.
Photos and story courtesy of Bob & Wilma.