Trading States of East
Yaelis Avila
January 28, 2013
The Rise of Aksum
S 2 main cities = Aksum (capital) & Adulis (Red Sea Port)
S Ethiopian highlands  coastal plan of the Red Sea
S Region suited for agriculture
S Ideal for trade (access to Indian Ocean)
S African traders: frankincense, gold dust, ivory, and slaves
S Foreign traders: cloth and spices
Aksum At Its Height
S Military power grew strong
S Under King Ezana in 320 AD
S Limited authority but collected tribute from local rulers
S Attacked and defeated rival trading kingdom, Kush 350 AD
S Control of trade in the region so it became the greatest
power in East Africa
Culture of Aksum
S Merchants brought ideas like Christianity in the 300’s
S King Ezana converted and made Christianity the official religion
of Aksum
S Kind Ezana said he would “rule the people with righteousness
and justice and will not oppress them, and may they preserve this
throne which I have set up for the Lord of Heaven”
S Found inscribed in a stelae, a stone monument
S Ge’ez – written and spoken language
S First African kingdom to mint its own coins
The Decline of Aksum
S In the 600’s because of Muslim invaders
S Conquered parts of East and North Africa
S Aksum was never conquered but it was isolated
S Muslims destroyed Adulis and took over Red Sea trade
S Aksum people moved to Ethiopia.
S The kingdom was lost but the legacy lived on
S Began to develop under Zagwe dynasty around 1150
S King Lalibela, known for building 11 stone Christian churches
S In 1270 kings claimed to be descendants of Solomon, this created
a dynasty called the Solomonid dynasty (700 years)
S Jews faces persecution in Ethiopia
S Muslim kingdom formed to the east of Ethiopia causing conflict
S Muslim forced never conquered Ethiopia
Rise of City-States
Africa’s East coast trade was successful because of the Indian Ocean and its
monsoon winds
Main trading cities were Mogadishu, Mom-basa, Kilwa, and Sofala
Foreign merchants sold glassware, porcelain, silk, and cotton in the city-states’
In exchange they got raw materials like coconut oil, copper, leopard skins, and
shells. Also very valuable ones like ivory and gold
Enslaved Africans were exported to slave markets in Arabia, Persia, and India to
work as domestic servants
Europeans increased the trade
Kilwa became the wealthiest and most powerful because of its location
It then gained control of Sofala which much gold was exported through
S Muslims Arabs and Persians influenced Africa’s culture and ways of
S Local architecture was influenced by Arabs, carved doors and
decorative niches
S Africans spoke Bantu language but adopted Arab words
S New language called Swahili developed (blended African-Arab
S Foreign traders made Islam gain hold of the coast, African rulers
adopted Islam and mosques appeared in cities and towns
S Many Africans continues to practice local traditional religions like
Great Zimbabwe
S Ancestors of the Shona people established a kingdom called Great
Zimbabwe around the 1100s
S Located between Limpopo and Zambezi rivers in southeaster
Africa (now nation of Zimbabwe)
S Served as a middle-man between gold miners and ivory hunters
because it was located along a trade route linking Africa’s interior
mines to the city-states on the coast
S A middle-man is someone who buys something from one person
and sells it to another, making a profit on the sale
S The kingdom’s rulers taxed the trade goods that passed through
the territory
The Great Enclosure
S Shona word zimbabwe means “stone houses”
S The largest and most impressive of the Great
Zimbabwe ruins is called the Great Enclosure
S Thick, circular, outer stone wall about 35 feet
high, inner wall runs along part of the outer
wall and forms a narrow passage 180 feet long
S Inside there is a 33 foot high stone tower
S Not sure of its purpose but it was maybe built
to show the rulers’ power or as an
astronomical observatory
The Mutapa Empire
Great Zimbabwe reached to 18,000 people but during the 1400’’s they abandoned
the area
Because they raised cattle one plausible reason is that the land became overgrazed,
or the soil may have lost its fertility
1500’s Europeans found it in ruins
Mutapa Empire got the power
Empire founded by former resident of Great Zimbabwe, Mutota.
Became knows as Mwene Mutapa “master pillager” or “conqueror”
Grew wealthy by exporting gold and controlling trade
Europeans took control of the empire eventually
S 1. How did trade and religion influence the development of Aksum
and Ethiopia?
Christianity was brought by trade because of this Christian churches and
other structures like steales were built. This two kingdoms were based on
S 2. Name one of the first written languages in Africa.
S 3. How did Aksum rise to power?
Because of its location and its ability to trade with the Red Sea
S 4. How do historians know the words of King Ezana?
It was inscribed in a stelae
S 5. Why did Aksum decline?
Because of Muslim invaders
S 6. How did the location of early Ethiopia compare to the location of Aksum?
Ethiopia was the larger region around Aksum
S 7. How did trade lead to the rise of coastal city-states in East Africa?
The coastal city-states became wealthy because they linked foreign merchants
with traders from Africa’s interior
S 8. What good were traded from Africa’s interior?
Coconut oil, copper, leopard skins and shells
S 9. How did monsoons affect the development of East African trade?
Monsoons helped set up a trade network that linked East Africa with Persia,
Arabia, India, and Southeast Asia
S 10. Why did Kilwa become the wealthiest among the East Africa’s coast citystates?
Because it was located at southernmost point on East Africa’s coast that a ship
could reach in a single monsoon season
S 11. What do historians know about the African kingdom of Great Zimbabwe?
That the kingdom was part of Africa’s thriving trade network because of its
S 12. What is a middleman?
Someone who who buys something from one person and sells it to another, making
a profit on the sale
S 13. What evidence suggests that Great Zimbabwe may have acted in the roles of
middleman for African trade?
They found glass beads from India and a coin minted in Kilwa at the site of the
kingdom’s ruins
S 14. What does the word Zimbabwe mean in Shona?
It means “stone houses”
S 15. What are some reasons the people of Great Zimbabwe may have abandoned
the site?
That the land became overgrazed or that the soil lost its fertility
Key Terms
S Ezana: (c. AD 300s) Aksumite ruler; he destroyed the Kush
capital of Meroë and took over the kingdom of Kush around AD
S Ge’ez: the written and spoken language of Aksum.
S Lalibela: (c. 1180-c. 1250) Ethiopian ruler from about 1200 to
1250; he is known for building large stone Christian churches,
many of which are still standing today.
S Swahili: an African society that emerged in the late 1100s along
the East African coast and combined elements of African, Asian,
and Islamic cultures
Multiple Choice Test Question
S What were the two most valuable trade items that came
from Africa in the city-states markets?
A. Cotton and silk
B. Copper and gold
C. African ivory and gold
D. Leopard skins and shells

Trading States of East Africa