Aksum An African Civilisation of Late Antiquity Stuart Munro-Hay



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Kaleb, Ella Atsbeha, son of Tazena, Be'ese LZN, king of Aksum, Himyar, Raydan, Saba, 
Salhen, and of the High Country and Yamanat, and the Coastal Plain and Hadramawt 
and of all their Arabs, and the Beja, Noba, Kasu, Siyamo and DRBT . . . of the land 
ATFY(?), servant of Christ, who is not defeated by the enemy.  
With the help of the Lord I fought the Agwezat and HST. I fought them, having divided my 
troops . . . (here follow some troop names) my country and with . . . march day and night 
. . . kill . . . Agwezat . . . iniquity? and I sent the Atagaw and the (more troop names?) they 
killed the HST and I followed with . . . peace . . . refuge . . . by the might of the Lord . . . 
made captive . . . there, their country with their offerings . . . thousand . . . and the cattle 
which they had taken . . . return . . . carry on the back . . . and the number killed of the 
Agwezat and the HST was men 400 . . . women and children I . . . the total . . . captives, 
men, women and children 4.. total of the killed and captives was . . . and the booty of 
cattle . . . hundreds, camels 200. This the Lord gave me . . . make war . . . Himyar . . . I 
sent HYN SLBN ZSMR with my troops and I founded a maqdas (church) in Himyar . . . 
the name of the Son of God in whom I put my reliance. . . . I built his GBZ and 
consecrated it by the power of the Lord . . . and the Lord has revealed to me his holiness? 
and I shall remain on this throne . . . and I have set it under the tutelage of the Lord, 
creator of heaven and earth, against he who should destroy, pluck up, or break it. And he 
who would tear up or destroy it, let the Lord tear up. . . .  
Drewes (1978) suggested that lines 34-7 of this inscription actually mention HYWN', or 
Hiuna, known from the Book of the Himyarites; his translation reads `He (God) gave me 
a great name, that I might wage war against Himyar. I sent HYN (..)BN ZSMR with my 
troops and I founded a church in `QN'L (. . .) the name of the Son of God, in Whom I 
believe. I constructed its gabaz and I consecrated it by the might of God. . . .'  
Inscription on an alabaster lamp acquired at Aden (Grohmann 1911). 
Ge`ez.  
. . . Zadagan and has fallen . . . (s)ons and his two brothers a(nd) . . . ? and their land . . . 
while . . . till the (sun) set . . . they return. . . .  
Marib Inscription. 
Vocalised Ge`ez, attributed to Kaleb (Kamil 1964; Caquot 1965; Müller 1972). `and he 
shall exalt you' . . . I passed through the port of Zala? . . . I fought with their army . . . as 
the Psalm says . . . `his enemies shall flee before your face' . . . making prisoners and 
taking booty . . . he chased the gentiles before . . . aboard ship . . . its coast which God 
had delivered to me . . . and half my army . . . my army descended by the opening . . . half 
of my army descended. . . .  
Pirenne and Tesfaye (1982) published some new ideas about this and another fragment 
from Marib — see also Müller 1972 — and an inscription from the Himyarite capital 


Zafar in which the designation `Angebenay' appears, which they conjecture to signify 
Kaleb. Igonetti (1973) has also published the Zafar Ge`ez inscription as follows;  
and he authorized . . . the faith of the Father . . . 'Angabenay . . . Christ . . . in Greece . . . 
and they arrived. . . .  
W`ZB Inscription. Ge`ez in the South Arabian script. 
This inscription is very difficult to read (only Huntingford 1989: 65-6 seems to have 
attempted it — his translation is that used here — though Schneider (1974) published a 
preliminary analysis), but some useful phrases can be distinguished.  
Wa`zeb, king of Aksum, and Himyar, and Dhu-Raydan, and Saba and Salaf (= Salhen) 
and of the Beja, and Kasu, and Siyamo and WYTG(?), Bisi Hadefan, son of Ella Atsbeha
servant of Christ.  
and my troops fought . . . I fought . . . with the army and soldiers . . . I will kill your 
enemies and I will fight against your enemies . . . my God . . . the troops under my orders. 
. . . God will fight for you, and you shall keep you peaceful . . . by the power of the Lord I 
entered their country. . . . I found them fleeing, refugees in their fortress the name of 
which is DGM . . . I lived within the enclosure of the fortress . . . they occupied the entire 
camp and the fortress . . . all nations compassed me about, in the name of the Lord I have 
vanquished them . . . having been killed then? and for that? I sent . . . the troops HDQN 
and S.RT and SBH and DMW and `GW. . . . O Lord, fight against them who make war 
against me, take hold of shield and spear and stand up to help me; let them be dust before 
the wind, that the angel of the Lord chase them, and it is said in the Psalms, I will pursue 
my enemies, and capture them. You gird me with strength in battle, and You make all 
those fall who stand up against me and You make my enemies turn their backs on me, and 
it is also said, the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly, the right hand of the Lord has 
exalted me . . . and praise Your holy name . . . the troops which I had sent submitted and 
killed and prayed and took captives . . . safe and sound, by the power of the Lord, and I 
set up a throne in methm? . . . WYT(L); and I returned safe and sound with my troops, by 
the power of the Lord; and I lived at ZWGS and they found refuge there in a place 
uninhabited by the combatants . . . our county? and a battle? en route and for that I sent 
in expedition the troop Hara . . . and they killed, and took captives and booty, by the 
power of the Lord, and returned safe . . . and that which the Lord gave me at the time of 
the first expedition and at the time of the last expedition . . . prisoners, men . . . women 
and children . . . ; killed, men . . . women and children . . . all the `gd of the WYTL 
submitted in offering their presents. . . .  
The inscriptions of the hatseni  Danael. Vocalised Ge`ez.  
(Cerulli 1968; Kobishchanov 1979; for a cautionary note about these readings, see 
Schneider 1984: 163).  
DAE 12. 



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