Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Africans in Arabia Felix: Aksumite Relations with Himyar in the Sixth Century C.E

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Africans in Arabia Felix: Aksumite Relations with Himyar in the Sixth Century C.E

Article excerpt

This dissertation argues that Ethiopia had a greater role in South Arabian history in late pre-Islamic times than scholars have hitherto believed. The two states involved in the power struggle in the southern Red Sea during this period were the Christian kingdom of Aksum in northern Ethiopia and the Jewish kingdom of H[dotbelow]imyar in Yemen. Aksum invaded South Arabia several times during late antiquity, the invasions of 518 and 525 in the reign of the Aksumite king Kaleb being the main focus of this dissertation. It is contended here that the Aksumite-H[dotbelow]imyarite conflict in the sixth century was not, as is often assumed, a series of proxy wars through which the Romans and Sasanids sought to gain rival spheres of influence in South Arabia, with the Romans supporting their Ethiopian coreligionists against an alleged H[dotbelow]imyarite-Sasanid axis. Rather, the evidence indicates that there was no competition between the Romans and Sasanids for influence in South Arabia either before or during the period 518-525. In place of a "Great Game" theory that explains Red Sea history in terms of the Romano-Sasanid conflict, this dissertation posits that Kaleb simply sought to establish Aksumite supremacy on both sides of the sea, and that he used both religious and irredentist rhetoric to justify what was nothing more than a war of Aksumite expansion into South Arabia. …

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