Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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FISSEHA Hailu, Aksum University College of Social Sciences and Languages, Ethiopia

As one of the centers of ancient world civilizations, Axum is rich in ancient sources such as stone inscriptions, parchments, archaeological facts. Inscriptions play an irreplaceable role in the study of history, linguistics, religion, state formation, culture and other human institutions by providing authentic information about the human past. However, these ancient sources are poorly studied or get little attention from researchers. With this in mind, this paper examines one of King Ezana’s inscriptions which talks about war prisoners and looted properties during his expedition to Baga, a place probably located in Northern Sudan. This study attempts to evaluate the following issues: war prisoners in ancient Axum, humanity in how it relates to the treatment of war prisoners, King Ezana’s outlook towards the prisoners of war, provisions given to the prisoners of war, and participants in the movement of war prisoners. The objective of the study is to scrutinize how King Ezana treated war prisoners in the journey to Baga. Document analysis of each of the 20 lines, read right to left, was used to analyze and interpret critically the text. The language of the inscription is Ge’ez, but it is written in Sebaean script. In other words, although the script is Sabaean, the content of the inscription is Ge’ez. In addition, the paper attempts to understand the treatment of war prisoners in ancient Rome, Persia and China as these ancient countries were comparable to Axum as contemporary world powers. Finally, the paper recommends that studying ancient inscriptions provide invaluable evidence that can help fill in gaps in knowledge of social and political development of an area.