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The Kingdom of Axum, sometimes known as the Axumite Empire, was a powerful nation located in and directly preceding the modern-day country of Abyssinia. Due to its strategic position on the trade routes between Roman Egypt and India, it grew rich through commerce and the exportation of its own trade goods from the heart of Africa.
Axum became in 330 the first major empire to convert to Christianity, and it also became one of the first to convert to Islam in 640 at the behest of Negus Wasan Sagad. Wasan Sagad's father, Ella Seham, had enjoyed friendly relations with the early Muslim community and even offered asylum to Muslim refugees fleeing persecution by the Beni Quraish. Wasan Sagad continued his father's policies, signing a treaty of alliance with the Talibid Caliphate, and later converted himself in Mecca after a legendary debate with Caliph Ali on the subject of religion.
Wasan Sagad's grandson, Germa Safar, led the Axumite army in 686 to overthrow the Umayyad Caliphate that had usurped the position of the Talibids. Afterwards Axum took Mecca, Medina and the whole Hejaz and Yemen under its protection, vowing to defend the child Ali ibn Hussein ibn Ali.
This began Axum's second golden age, reversing its slow decline. In 691 Germa Safar moved the capital to the seaport of Adulis, which was now closer to the centre of the realm, and commissioned a series of great voyages of trade and exploration, trying to establish contact with the farthest reaches of the Oecumene. Under his son and successor, Gergaz, an Axumite fleet completed the first confirmed circumnavigation of Ethiopia - a voyage that was believed to be mythical until the original manuscript of the admiral's log was discovered in Alexandria in 1975.
Axum declined again from the 10th entury, and finally collapsed in 1137 after years of interfighting. It was succeeded by a number of smaller petty kingdoms, which were reunited again in 1270 by Yekuno Amlak, laying the foundations for modern Abyssinia.