The small town of Axum in the north of Ethiopia was once the capital of the Axumite Empire which flourished between the 1st century BC and the 7th century AD. The Axumites traded with Rome, Persia and India and was one of the great civilisations of its day. There are many historical sites in and around Axum dating from this time, most notably the stelae of the Axumite kings, giant granite obelisks marking their tombs. According to legend, Axum was also the birthplace and home of the Queen of Sheba in the 10th century BC and her son Menelik (fathered by King Solomon) returned from Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant. Ethiopians believe the Ark still resides in Axum, located in a building of the Church of St. Mary of Zion.
Qohaito was a thriving city of the Axumite Empire (first century BC to seventh century AD), set in the mountains south-east of Asmara. Today the area contains a number of ruins, including the 67 metre long Saphira Dam as well as a number of rock paintings.