In these great centers of international trade, Greek, Egyptian, Arab, and Jewish merchants mingled with traders from Africa, India, and other regions. Ideas spread as these goods were traded. By the 300s, Christianity had reached the region. After converting to the new religion, Axum's King Ezana made Christianity the official religion of his kingdom. As Christianity took hold among Axum's people, they replaced older temples with Christian churches decorated with intricately designed religious images and murals painted on wood panels.
At first, Christianity strengthened the ties between Axum, North Africa, and the Mediterranean world. In the 600s, however, Islam began to spread across North Africa and other regions surrounding Axum. Many African rulers embraced this new faith, creating strong cultural ties across much of the continent. Axum, which remained Christian, grew isolated from its own trade network—by distance from Europe and by religion from many former trading partners. As civil war and economic decline combined to weaken Axum, the kingdom slowly declined.
Describe how the spread of Christianity and Islam affected the kingdom of Axum.
Though Axum's political and economic power faded, its cultural and religious influence did not disappear. This legacy survived among the peoples of the interior uplands, in what is today northern Ethiopia. Although Axum's empire was only a portion of the present-day nation, when referring to their kingdom as a whole, the Axumite kings frequently used Ethiopia, a term the Greeks used for the region.
Medieval Ethiopia was protected by rugged mountains, and the descendants of the Axumites were able to maintain their independence for centuries. Their success was due in part to the unifying power of their Christian faith, which gave them a unique sense of identity and helped establish a culture distinct from that of neighboring peoples.
Axum's location allowed the kingdom to become a hub of trade in East Africa. Based on the map, why did Axum become a favorite center for maritime traders?