Ancient kingdom, N Ethiopia. At its apogee (3rd-6th cent. AD), Aksum merchants traded as far as Alexandria and beyond the Nile River. The modern town of Aksum (pop. 1989 est.: 22,000), once the kingdom's capital, is a religious center best known for its antiquities. It has long been regarded as a holy city for the Ethiopian Orthodox church; according to tradition, King Menilek I, son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, brought the Ark of the Covenant there from Jerusalem. Aksum's antiquities have made it a tourist center.