Axum EthiopiaEthiopia’s, most ancient city and the capital of the Axumite state, which was founded about 1000BC. It is the site of many remarkable monolithic stone stelae, or obelisks. The three most important being decorated to represent multi storied building, complete with doors and windows. The largest obelisk, is 35 meters long and weighed 500 tons. It is the biggest piece of stone ever cut by humanity anywhere in the world. But today it lies broken on the ground. Near it stands a smaller but nevertheless most impressive 24 meter high obelisk, the pride of Ethiopia.
A somewhat larger obelisk was taken to Rome, on the order of the Italian warrior Bento Mussolini in 1937. But it is returned to its homeland and being erected on August 2008. Axum, in its day, was a great commercial center, issuing its own currency and trading with Egypt, Arabia, Persia, India and even Ceylon. The settlement was also the site of Ethiopian’s oldest church. It dates back to the coming of Christianity as the state religion early in the 4th Century. The original building has long since disappeared but a structure erected on it site by Emperor Fasildas in the early 17th century is still there. A nearby outhouse is the reputed repository of the biblical Ark of the Covenant. However except one guardian (priest) no one is allowed to enter in to the sanctuary.