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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Hellenistic Monarchies ▸ Aksumite KingdomView Options:  |  |  | 

Aksumite Kingdom (Axum)

At its height, Aksum ruled most of present-day Eritrea, and parts of Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Sudan. After converting to Christianity about 330 B.C., the cross replaced the disc and crescent on coins. Due to climate change and trade isolation, Aksum began to decline in the 7th century when the last coins were issued. Aksum is now a country village in northern Ethiopia. One of the most curious aspects of Axumite coinage is the use of gilding on some of the silver and bronze coins. The amount of gold used would not be enough to significantly change the value of the coin, and the reason for this labor-intensive process remains somewhat a mystery. According to regional tradition, the Ark of the Covenant is housed in the Church of Mary of Zion at Aksum. The Ark, according to legends, was brought to Aksum by King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba's son and placed under guard. No one but the one guard priest is allowed in, thus no one can verify the Ark's existence.


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Ebana, c. 5th Century A.D.

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Munro-Hay lists two types for Ebana, one with the reverse legend reading Ebana (type 71) and the other reading Ezana (type 72). Three variants are listed for type 72. Type 72ii is described as, "a further rare variant, reads 'Ezana', with the letter Z in the form of a crooked N." The reverse legend on this coin starts after the cross at 3:00 and ends CN/\H/\.

Monro-Hay al-Madhariba p. 94, notes all Ezana reverse legend examples in the hoard were from a single die.
SH28942. Gold unit, Munro-Hay type 72ii; Munro-Hay al-Madhariba p. 94, describes Ezana with cross bar on wheat stalk (al-M. 2); BMC Aksumite -, F, flan defect, rough cleaning, weight 1.583 g, maximum diameter 15.7 mm, die axis 0o, obverse +CIN+CΛX+ΛCΛ+CΛC (reversed, blundered Greek, interpretation uncertain), crowned and draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, wheat stalk with cross-bar or wheat stalk with short cruciform scepter in right; reverse +CΛC+ΛCΛ+CCN+ΛHΛ (blundered Greek, King Ezana), draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, wearing head cloth, wheat stalk and fly-whisk? in right; cleaning scratches; rare; SOLD


Aksumite Kingdom (Axum), Ebana, c. 5th Century A.D.

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The Π type mint mark (South Arabian letter S) on the obverse was first identified by a single example in al-Madhariba hoard, published in 1989. The coins of Ebana with mint marks appear to be the earlier issues.

On this coin the A's in the legend include crossbars (v shaped), which are missing on most Ebana coinage. This perhaps indicates this coin is from one of his very earliest issues.
SH28943. Gold unit, Munro-Hay al-Madhariba 288; Munro-Hay type 71, A97-99; BMC Aksumite -, gF, weight 1.592 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 0o, obverse +CIN+CAX+AZA+CAC (blundered Greek, interpretation uncertain), crowned and draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, wheat stalk and fly-whisk? in right, dot and Π above head; reverse +BAC+ACA+CCB+ANA (blundered Greek, King Ebana), draped half-length bust of king right between two wheat stalks, wearing head cloth, wheat stalk and fly-whisk in right, dot above head; rare mintmark; SOLD


Axumite Kingdom, Kaleb, 520 - 540 A.D.

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A curious aspects of Axumite coinage is the use of gilding on some of the silver and bronze coins

Aksum is the purported home of the Ark of the Covenant. According to regional tradition, the Ark is housed in the Church of Mary of Zion. The Ark, according to legends, was brought to Aksum by King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba's son and placed under guard. No one but the one guard priest is allowed in, and thus no one can verify the Ark's existence.
GB25151. Bronze AE 15, Vaccaro 34, F, weight 0.788 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, Aksum mint, obverse XX[...], crowned and draped bust right; reverse HTHXW[...], cross-crosslet with X, traces of gilt center; green patina; SOLD







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REFERENCES

Anzani, A. Numismatica Axumita. RIN III, Series 3, XXXIX (IV). (Milan, 1926).
Hahn, W. "Aksumite Numismatics - A critical survey of recent Research" in Revue Numismatique 2000.
Munro-Hay, S. & B. Juel-Jensen. Aksumite Coinage. (London, 1995).
Munro-Hay, S. Catalogue of the Aksumite Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1999).
Munro-Hay, S. "The al-Madhariba hoard of gold Aksumite and late Roman coins" in NC 149. (1989). pp. 83.
Vaccaro, F. "Previously serialised as 'Tipologia Numismatica Aksumita'" in Italia Numismatica, 1966-1967.

Catalog current as of Sunday, September 23, 2018.
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Aksumite Kingdom