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Coin Detail
Click here to see enlarged image.
ID:     722280
Type:     Ancient Africa
Issuer:     Ezanas
Date Ruled:     Circa AD 330-350
Metal:     Silver
Denomination:     AR11
Struck / Cast:     struck
Date Struck:     AD circa
Diameter:     11 mm
Weight:     0.62 g
Die Axis:     12 h
Obverse Legend:     HZA• (• within crescent) •NAS
Obverse Description:     Draped bust right, wearing headcloth
Reverse Legend:     •BACIAEYC• (• within crescent)
Reverse Description:     Draped bust right, wearing headcloth, within circle
Primary Reference:     Munro-Hay Type 39
Reference2:     BMC Aksum 59 cf.
Photograph Credit:     Classical Numismatic Group
Grade:     EF, lightly toned.
Notes:     Sale: CNG 72, Lot: 2280 The kingdom of Axum, located along the Red Sea of modern Ethiopia, is exceptional in that it was the only sub-Saharan African state in antiquity that issued coinage. As with many other remote states to issue coinage, Axum was located along a trade route, with its particular route linking India and southern Arabia with Rome by way of Egypt. Very little is known about Axum, and the order of its kings can only be assigned to chronological groupings. The prosperity of the kingdom fueled an expansion that at times would encompass portions of southern Arabia and areas further inland in Africa. At some point, probably in the AD 330s, the Axumite king Ezanas converted to Christianity, which became the state religion, making Axum the second ancient state, after Armenia, to adopt Christianity. There are also possible links between Axum and Biblical Judaea, and an enduring legend is that, to save it from destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, king Menelek I, the son of king Solomon of Israel and Makeda, Queen of Sheba, secretly moved the Ark of the Covenant to his kingdom in Ethiopia (Axum), where it supposedly rests today in a "treasury" near the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Our Lady Mary of Zion. The kingdom appears to have waned in the seventh century AD, coinciding with the advent of Islam. Although Axum was soon surrounded by Islamic states, it coexisted peacefully among them thereafter.