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Aksum and Nubia

Warfare, Commerce, and Political Fictions in Ancient Northeast Africa
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George Hatke
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Aksum and Nubia assembles and analyzes the textual and archaeologicalevidence of interaction between Nubia and the Ethiopiankingdom of Aksum, focusing primarily on the fourth centuryCE. Although ancient Nubia and Ethiopia have been the subjectof a growing number of studies in recent years, little attention hasbeen given to contact between these two regions. Hatke arguesthat ancient Northeast Africa cannot be treated as a unified areapolitically, economically, or culturally. Rather, Nubia and Ethiopiadeveloped within very different regional spheres of interaction, asa result of which the Nubian kingdom of Kush came to focus itsenergies on the Nile Valley, relying on this as its main route ofcontact with the outside world, while Aksum was oriented towardsthe Red Sea and Arabia. In this way Aksum and Kush coexistedin peace for most of their history, and such contact as they maintainedwith each other was limited to small-scale commerce. Onlyin the fourth century CE did Aksum take up arms against Kush,and even then the conflict seems to have been related mainly tosecurity issues on Aksum's western frontier. Although Aksum never managed to hold onto Kush for long, muchless dealt the final death-blow to the Nubian kingdom, as is oftenbelieved, claims to Kush continued to play a role in Aksumite royalideology as late as the sixth century. Aksum and Nubia criticallyexamines the extent to which relations between two ancient Africanstates were influenced by warfare, commerce, and politicalfictions. 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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