Aksum is the most famous and well known by the mysterious obelisks. It is also the alleged resting place of the biblical Ark of the Covenant and the purported home of the legendary Queen of Sheba. The Kingdom of Aksum or Axum, also known as the Aksumite Empire was an important trading nation in north-eastern Africa, ruled from approximately 100–940 AD. The Empire of Aksum at its height extended across most of present-day Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, and Yemen, southern Saudi Arabia and northern Sudan. The capital city of the empire was Aksum, now in northern Ethiopia. The Kingdom used the name "Ethiopia" as early as the 4th century.
The Aksum Empire was named as one of the four great powers of the world along with Persia, Rome, and China. Aksum’s prosperity seems to have peaked in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries AD. Monumental royal tombs were constructed, each marked by a huge monolithic stelae carved to represent a multi-storied building. Around the same time, Aksum began to produce its own coinage, with gold used for international trade, and copper and silver for local circulation. In about AD 340, the Aksumite kingdom formally adopted Christianity under king Ezana (320–360 AD), becoming only the second nation in the world (after Armenia) to do this.