8. The Aksumite Empire
The Aksumite Empire began in the first century AD in what is now Ethiopia and is believed to be the home of the Queen of Sheba. Aksum was a major trade center with exports of ivory, agricultural resources and gold being traded throughout the Red Sea trade network and onward to the Roman Empire and east towards India. Because of this, Aksum was a very wealthy society and was the first African culture to issue its own coinage, which in ancient times was a sign of great importance. The most recognizable monuments of Aksum are the stelae, giant carved obelisks that acted as the grave markers of kings and nobles. Early Aksumites worshipped several gods but their main god was called Astar. In 324 AD, King Ezana II was converted to Christianity and from then on Aksum was a zealously Christian culture, and is even allegedly the home of the Ark of the Covenant.
Where did they go?
According to local legend, a Jewish Queen named Yodit defeated the Aksumite Empire and burned its churches and literature. However, others believe that southern pagan queen Bani al-Hamwiyah led to the Aksumite decline. Other theories include climate change, trade isolation and over farming leading to starvation.