The following day we flew to our second stop - Axum. Axum, or Ahksum, was the supposed residence of the Queen of Sheba. There is an old reservoir bearing her name which is still used by people to fetch (Yes, fetch, where do you think we were? This is a developing country and many people have no plumbing or electricity.) water. The big thing in Axum is to view the single-piece, stone stellae. These things are huge and were transported from tens of kilometers away in an age without diesel engines.
At the onset of World War II Mussolini’s troops briefly over-ran Ethiopia and captured (ransacked) the city of Axum. The troops broke one of the largest still standing stella into three pieces and pilfered it away to Rome. Once in Rome, Mussolini had it erected in St. Peter's Square as a glorious monument to the powerful nation of Italy. It stood there until just a few years ago when Italy decided to return it in a good-will gesture to Ethiopia. The return and resurrection of the stella coincides with Ethiopia's millennial celebration.
Ethiopia uses a calendar based on the Coptic calendar which figures the date of the birth of Christ to a later year then the Western European calendar. Also in Axum is supposed home of the Ark of the Covenant. Since the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia (once a part of the Coptic church) won't let any scholars verify its presence, it's a case of he said, he said (only men are priests). The topography and climate of Axum is much like central Oregon, especially Bend, but without the snow.