In what is today Ethiopia and Eritrea, the kingdom of Aksum was a trading nation and naval power. It lasted from the 1st century CE to the 7th. Major exports included ivory, rhino horn, hippo hides, tortoise shell, monkeys, and slaves to the Roman Empire, Egypt, and India. Aksum minted its own currency, we know because we have found some of it, and it is to date the only sub-Saharan African coinage until the 900s. Before adopting Christianity, Aksumites practiced a polytheistic religion believed to be related to the polytheistic religion of southern Arabia. Under Ezana in the mid-300s CE, Aksum adopted Christianity.
Aksum’s dynasty was linked to King Solomon through Queen Sheba’s son Menelik I, founder of the Aksum dynasty, who was said to be the king’s son. Almost more impressive to me, the Aksum dynasty was the ancestors of all Ethiopian rulers until the 1970s!