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Aksum or Axum (both: äksōmˈ) [key], town (1994 pop. 27,148), Tigray region, N Ethiopia. Aksum was the capital of an empire (c.1st–8th cent. A.D.) that controlled much of what is now N Ethiopia. In the 4th cent. the emperor Ezana was converted to Christianity, and today Aksum is a major center of Ethiopian Christianity. The Ark of the Covenant is said to have been brought there from Jerusalem in Solomon's time and placed in the church of St. Mary of Zion, where Ethiopia's emperors were later crowned. The town is also noted for its gigantic carved pre-Christian obelisks, and there is an extensive underground royal necropolis.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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