The ruins of the city of Aksum, dating from the 1st to the 13th century, mark the heart of ancient Ethiopia and what was the “most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia”. It includes monolithic obelisks, giant stelae , royal tombs, and ruins of former castles. It was an important trading nation in northeastern Africa, existing from approximately 100–940 AD. It grew from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period ca. 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD, and was a major player in the commerce between the Roman Empire and Ancient India. The Aksumite rulers facilitated trade by minting their own currency, the state established its hegemony over the declining Kingdom of Kush and regularly entered the politics of the kingdoms on the Arabian peninsula.
The Empire of Aksum is notable for a number of achievements, such as its own alphabet, the Ge’ez alphabet which was eventually modified to include vowels, becoming an abugida. Furthermore, in the early times of the empire, around 1700 years ago, giant Obelisks to mark emperor’s (and nobles’) tombs (underground grave chambers) were constructed, the most famous of which is the Obelisk of Aksum.