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What was the culture in Axum?

The culture of Axum was very cosmopolitan. Trade contacts with other civilizations influenced its culture to a high degree. Axum is not notable for any artistic contributions, as they seem to have preferred to import their decorative wares. Axumites practiced their own polytheistic religion, but Christianity eventually became the official religion of the kingdom.

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Axum was located at the nexus of multiple important trade routes. As a result, it developed a rather cosmopolitan culture that combined elements of various other civilizations in addition to its own. Influences from Egypt, Arabia, Greece, India, and the Horn of Africa all blended together to make something unique to Axum.

Axum developed its own writing system. It was originally based on Arabic script but also had Greek influences. This eventually evolved in a purely Axumite script known as Ge'ez which is still used in the region.

The Axumites seem to have never developed notable artistic styles. At the very least, no examples have survived. Their pottery was kept rather simple in decoration, incorporating some simple geometric designs, but not much more. They did not produce their own high-end wares, preferring instead to import them from other regions. No large-scale sculptures remain, but numerous early Axumite figurines of animals or nude women have been found.

During its early history, Axumites practiced a polytheistic religion. The worship of the local god Mahram was a central part of this. Mahram was the god of strife, war, and kingship. In addition, Axumites worshipped gods representing celestial bodies and the netherworld, as well as numerous Arabian gods. Ancestor worship was also central to Axumite religion. Axum officially adopted the Christian religion in the mid-4th Century. This was likely done to form closer ties with their important trading partners in Roman North Africa. Despite this official change, it seems that many Axumites continued to practice their older polytheistic faith for some time.

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