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An Old Civilisation!

A Number of Civilisations had taken their forms in different parts of the world from the very ancient times. Although we know, more or less, about many famous civilisations, even archaeologists do not always stay much aware of some old settlements. One such ancient city was unearthed in the Eastern African nation of Ethiopia in 2019 that reportedly existed for about 1400 years.

The Aksum Civilisation existed in East Africa from 825 BC to 80 BC. This Civilisation had not only controlled East Africa for centuries, but also had established trade ties with other powerful civilisations, like the Roman Civilisation. Even the Aksumite Empire had established diplomatic ties with China and ancient Persia. The newly discovered city was contemporary of the Aksum Civilisation.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University began excavation works near the Yeha region of Northern Ethiopia to trace the origins of the Aksum Civilisation. There, they discovered an ancient town of pre-Aksumite Empire. Aksum was the main city of the Aksum Civilisation. Although the researchers still do not have a clear idea of how this civilisation came into existence, it is assumed that the Aksum Civilisation developed in northern Ethiopia from a pre-Aksum settlement!

During the excavations in Yeha, Researchers came across rows of some stone walls. They believe that these are the ruins of houses built at that time. Archaeologist Michael Harrower from Johns Hopkins University said: “This is one of the most important ancient civilisations, but people (in the Western world) don’t know it.” He added: “Outside of Egypt and Sudan, it’s the earliest complex society or major civilisation in Africa.

In the local Tigrinya Language, this ancient city is called ‘Beta Samati’ or the “House of Audience“. The Researchers are of the opinion that this settlement could help reveal some of the mysteries surrounding the rise and fall of this ancient African Empire. Jack Phillips, a Researcher at the University of London, believes that the discovery of this Beta Samati is very significant. “Even though we knew about Aksum, there was no information about the pre-Aksum civilisation in that particular region,” he stressed.

Radiocarbon dating has confirmed that Beta Samati existed from 771 BC to 645 BC. It means Beta Samati was there even after the emergence of Aksum Civilisation. In other words, the rise of Aksum Civilisation did not have much effect on the existence of Beta Samati. The Researchers used to think in the exact opposite manner before the discovery of the ancient city. So, the new discovery will certainly reveal a lot of unknown facts.

The Researchers have come to know that there were many small houses in Beta Samati. Also, there were some big houses. Researchers call the big houses ‘Basilicas’, which were used for trade and administrative purposes. Later, they were turned into places of worship.

The Kingdom of Saba (BC 8 – CE 275) was located near Yemen’s modern capital Sana’a. The Saba King converted the Aksum Civilisation to Christianity in the 4th Century. Then, the Basilicas were converted into Churches.

The researchers discovered some copper rings, which were placed on the horns of bulls. Researchers believe that those rings were imported from the Roman Civilisation. The Archaeologists also found an Amphora, a special fermentation vessel, for wine preservation. The Aksum people used to import this kind of Amphora from Aqaba or modern day Jordan. From these archaeological instances, Researchers have come to know that Beta Samati and Aksum used to maintain close trade ties with other major civilisations of that time.

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