Gold mining & utilization during the Axumite empire

Axumite kingdom is the manifestation of an Ethiopian civilization that happened 1500 years ago.

During this time, the public ownership status of the gold mine fields makes available the maximum gold utilization option by the state. According to the recently published research-based book known as “Gold Mining in Ethiopia: Tripartite Interest and Contest”, there was no community and private sector stake in the gold mining resources.

As a result, the Axumite kingdoms were not only exporting but also using the gold in its very maximum way by operating as a currency transaction mode. During this time, Ethiopia was one of the main leading empires of the then world order that had gold coins as a transaction mechanism. These coins were minted mainly from gold and other precious metals and the size of the gold coins was different from period to period in the kingdom.

The utilization mechanisms were through crafting coins by using the gold itself as its main coin production input. All the gold coins were mined, manufactured, and crafted in the territories of the Axumite Kingdom. This situation continues until the 8th century. The Axumite kingdom’s diplomatic communication with other legitimate kingdoms was basically based on religion and trade co-operations. As a result, gold was one of the major export items of the Axumite kingdom along with other commodities. As a result, the kingdom was able to import other commodity items as an exchange.

The gold coins of the Axumite Kingdom blended the Sabaean religion, Ethiopian art, and Greek culture in Harmony. It is also evidenced by archeological findings that some gold coins were found in the north part of Ethiopia, which is believed to be Roman empire coins. This is also a clear scientific indication to justify the level of the export trade and transaction during the first centuries with then powerful equivalent empires. Close to 7000 Axumite gold coins with 100 varieties now exist in different museums in the world including but not limited to Addis Ababa, Vienna, Paris, London, Berlin, Bombay, Leningrad, New York, Frankfurt, and Aden.

The supremacy of Axum continued without interruption by ruling up to southern Arabia. The challenge emanates from the control of Yemen by Persians in 578 AD. This loss of previously controlled areas, which were the main economic path of the Axumite Kingdom was aggravating from time to time and came up to a series of conditions. From the 8th and the beginning of the 9th century, the kingdom of Axum was commercially isolated as its access to the sea and overseas was cut off, and it lost its economic and political prestige

As a result, the main trade connection of the kingdom was downsized as a result of the took-over of the red sea by the Arabs, who are emerging from the middle-east. This economic weakness of the kingdom at the international level significantly minimizes the political and military influence of the government and causes for the eradication of the supremacy of the Axumite kingdom.

This political weakness also had an implication on the state-ownership status of the gold mine fields locally. Surrounding potential powers and organized community structures started to check out the military balance and finally able to take over some economically important locations. The main gold minefields of the Axumite Kingdom, which are the most important sources of gold wealth as well as the backbone of the export trade of the government, were taken over by the Beja, the Falashas, and other surrounding communities from the southern interior parts of the kingdom. The huge gold mine and utilization tradition were discontinued as a result of territory shrinking and government policy diversion of the successor dynasty.

Soure: Further Africa