Aksum and Nubia

Warfare, Commerce, and Political Fictions in Ancient Northeast Africa

George Hatke

NYU Press (publisher)

Aksum and Nubia assembles and analyzes the textual and archaeological
evidence of interaction between Nubia and the Ethiopian
kingdom of Aksum, focusing primarily on the fourth century
CE. Although ancient Nubia and Ethiopia have been the subject
of a growing number of studies in recent years, little attention has
been given to contact between these two regions. Hatke argues
that ancient Northeast Africa cannot be treated as a unified area
politically, economically, or culturally. Rather, Nubia and Ethiopia
developed within very different regional spheres of interaction, as
a result of which the Nubian kingdom of Kush came to focus its
energies on the Nile Valley, relying on this as its main route of
contact with the outside world, while Aksum was oriented towards
the Red Sea and Arabia. In this way Aksum and Kush coexisted
in peace for most of their history, and such contact as they maintained
with each other was limited to small-scale commerce. Only
in the fourth century CE did Aksum take up arms against Kush,
and even then the conflict seems to have been related mainly to
security issues on Aksum’s western frontier.

Although Aksum never managed to hold onto Kush for long, much
less dealt the final death-blow to the Nubian kingdom, as is often
believed, claims to Kush continued to play a role in Aksumite royal
ideology as late as the sixth century. Aksum and Nubia critically
examines the extent to which relations between two ancient African
states were influenced by warfare, commerce, and political
fictions. Online edition available as part of the NYU Library's Ancient World Digital Library and in partnership with the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW).     

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