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Adulis: The buried city civilization

In studying history past events are crucial, but in doing so history also involves ancient places and people and they become part of the study. Although there still remain studies or almost nothing is done in recovering and studying the history of Eritrea, there are few very prominent places that are vivid in the ancient history of the country. The buried city of Adulis is one of the ancient places in Eritrea that are believed to exist thousands years ago. There exist folklores that suggest the word “Adulis” mean ‘’free people”. And it is believed that the place got this name because slaves escaping from ancient Egyptian lords used to settle in the place.

A Greek historian, Agater Caidese, on his book “Azuli” indicated that previously Adulis was a small village where the inhabitants used to wear animal hide and depend on hunting for food. According to Agatar those ancient settlers of Adulis also have a number of weapons like spear and sticks that they used to prevent themselves from their enemies.

Once ancient Egyptian and Greeks begun to know Adulis, the small village is later transformed into one of the important port cities of the Red Sea. It becomes the trade center for exporting animals, various minerals and importing jewelry and other materials from Egypt. One of the imported animals to Egypt was elephants that were vital for the ancient Egyptians during war times. Adulis falling in the hands of the Greek expand the trade activities towards Greece and other parts of Europe.

During the times of the Roman Empire the importance of the port city of Adulis expanded and a number of trade exchanges were taking place between the countries of the Roman Empire and the port city Adulis. Later with the coming of the Axumite Empire, the port city Adulis becomes the port city that connect the Empire with the ancient civilizations of Rome, Greek, Africa, Arab, and the Persian among others.

In around 220-589 A.D. the port city Adulis used to have relations with ancient China where they used to import hippopotamus, turtle and elephant tooth from Adulis. 

In around 640 A.D Adulis was invaded by the Arabs where it was destroyed, and with the fall of Axumite Kingdom in the 7th century A.D. the port city of Adulis were completely destroyed. Today the ancient port city of Adulis is buried but with archeological excavations there still can find relics and remnants of the port city that can make this area a tourist and archeological site.

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