Aksum is possibly most prominent and well known by the mysterious stales. It is also the supposed quiescent place of the biblical Ark of the Covenant and the ostensible home of the legendary Queen of Sheba. The Kingdom of Axum or Axum, also known as the Axumite Empire was an important trading nation in northeastern Africa, ruled from approximately 100–940 AD. The Empire of Aksum at its height complete across most of present-day Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, 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.

Aksum or Axum is widely identified by the famous obelisks, or massive steal. In ancient times, seven of these monoliths of granite stood together; but the biggest, the largest monolith ever made anywhere in the world – measuring over thirty-three meters (108 feet) and weighing about 500 tons – fell at some isolated period in the past and now lies ruined on the ground to the right of the standing steal. The second-largest stelae, about twenty-four metres (79 feet) high, also fell and were stolen during the Fascist Italian occupation on the personal orders of the dictator Mussolini. It finally returned to Ethiopia and erected at its original place. The third-largest steal, measuring twenty-three meters (75 feet), still stands in Axum.

All seven huge steal are made of single pieces of granite and have indistinguishable decoration. Each resembles a tall, slender multi-storied house in the architectural style of the Axumite houses and palaces and is decorated with representations of doors, windows and, in some cases, door handles.

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