Axum

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City of Aksum
ኣኽሱም
Standard of the Ras of Axum
Flag
CapitalAxum (city-state)
Largest ward Amba Negast
Official languages None, de facto Amharic and Praetannic
Ethnic groups (2015) Axumite
Mbeyan
Amazighs
Questarian
Praetannic
Demonym Axumite
Government Common Law
Establishment
 •  Settlement c. 4300BC 
 •  Coronation of Menelik I October 18th, 220BC 
 •  Treaty of Mhontlo October 18th, 1860 
Area
 •  Total 2,755 km2
1,064 sq mi
 •  Water (%) 51%
Population
 •  2015 estimate 9,000,000
 •  Density 6666.91/km2
17,262.49/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $399,000,000,000
 •  Per capita $44,333
Currency Oryontic Dollar (O$) (ORD)
Time zone (UTC-8)
Date format dd-mm-yyyy
Drives on the right

The city of Axum (Amhara: ኣኽሱም, Aksum), is a stateless city in south-west Crataea, located at the lagoon at the mouth of the Atbara River. It is bounded by Sandirius on land to the south and by the Gulf of Ongobongo by water to the north. A multi-ethnic, multi-religious population of approximately 9 million reside in 1350 square kilometers of land area, making it the most densely populated polity in the world.

Axum is governed under an indigenous Common Law, and is not under state jurisdiction. The Treaty of Mhlontlo, signed between the Mbeyan Empire and the Estates-General in 1860, designated the city as a free port and effectively ceded the city from state authority. A coalition of private associations, including the Negus of Axum, the traditional hereditary monarch, provide for public security.

History

Early history

Axum is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world. Although the commercial activity of the modern city prevents most archaeological work, excavations at the site of the Amba Tafari revealed a tell dating back to the fifth millennium BC. The city is first mentioned in writing in the third millennium BC in Kemetese hieroglyphs as Ta-Pwenet or Punt, shown presenting tributes of ivory and bronze to the pharaoh. Mentions of Punt decline over the next millenium, shifting west to describe what is now Motappaland, and the area of Axum became referred to as Damot. The Ajuraan ruler Netjer III mentions conquering several cities along the coast, including Damot, which was particularly bountiful in its loot.

Axum was first mentioned as such in Agricola of Etrusca's Itinerarium Australis Ultima of the fourth century BC. Although there is no evidence of direct contact between the First Dumani Empire and Axum, Dumani denarii have been found in Axum and Axumite silver coins have been found in Dumanum. The Axumite Empire was a trade power in the peaceful Ongobongo, linking western Crataea to the East.

Axum under the Mbeyans

King Dingiziwe II united the Zulu tribes under his rule and crowned himself Mbeyan Emperor in 1545. He embarked on a conquest of the disunited tribes to his north, including an ailing Axumite kingdom under Negus Menelik XXXIV. Axum, equipped with gunpowder weapons from the East, repelled the initial Mbeyan invasion. However, Menelik realized that he could not fight another such war and submitted to Dingiziwe's son, Buyisiwe I, in 1560, under initially favorable conditions. Axum enjoyed nearly full autonomy within Mbeyan Empire in exchange for tribute. The Negus kept his internal power, a small army, and Buyisiwe's assurance that the Axumite population could not be enslaved. However, Mbeyan agents in the court worked to weaken the Ras over generations, until by 1850 Axumite territory was less than a third of its 1560 territory and its legal autonomy compromised.

During this time Axum grew from a coastal fortress to a proper city. Its internal autonomy allowed it to be more open to Wallasean trade and radical monotheism. Axum in particular served as a vital trade node in the Praetannic "string of pearls," a series of unofficial commercial enclaves that linked the Commonwealth with markets and resources of Crataea. Before the massacres of the second Mbeyan invasion there were more Praetannics in Axum than the Tairendian concession. The large presence of foreigners made Axum a hotbed of both Providentialism, disapproved by the pagan Mbeyans, and of political radicalism and pro-Common Law agitation, disapproved of by Mbeyans and wherever the radicals from.

Discontent turned into revolt when Emperor Dingani III declared in 1858 that Axumites could be enslaved under imperial code for certain crimes and enserfed outside Axum if they were caught in Providentialist acts. Ras Menelik XXXIX, a convert to Congregationalism himself, declared that the Mbeyans had violated their obligations under the oath of fealty and thus the submission void. He appealed to the Estates-General for aid, and was initially refused. Counting on his geographic isolation, Dingani III sought to rid the empire of foreign influence. Hoping to present the foreigners (especially the Commonwealth) with a fait accompli, the Mbeyan Emperor occupied the foreign settlements by force. Menelik, and news of Mbeyan atrocities, barely escaped to Tairendia by ship. Incensed by reports of murder, looting, and rape, the Estates-General indicted Dingani for the damages and dispatched a punitive expedition to bring him to trial. Aided by Axumite loyalists, the Mbeyan Punitive Expedition handily defeated the technologically backwards Mbeyan imperial army and captured Dingani at the Battle of Mhlontlo.

Dingani was found guilty of the atrocities committed. At the pleas of Menelik, the jury refrained from a death sentence and instead Dingani was fined and banished from Axum on pain of death. The sentence of the provisional court, passed in 1860, is generally known as the Treaty of Mhlontlo. Dingani himself signed the verdict to escape captivity as fast as possible. Axum was restored to its 1560 territory, with several adjustments made in its favor, and ceded from Mbeyan state authority.

Axum in the 20th century

Though Axum regained its independence from Mbeyan rule, the invasion of Dingani and subsequent fighting within and around the city devastated it considerably and killed about a third of the population. Its isolation and the lack of discovered wealth in southwestern Crataea slowed recovery, as well as internecine conflicts between the returned Ras of Axum and the "metropolitans." These newly wealthy merchant class of native and Wallasean ethnicity did not recognize the customary obligations the burghers owed the prince, and under the terms of the Treaty, the Negus could not force them to. With only informal association with the Common Law, the conflict of authority within the city produced sporadic fighting and rampant crime.

Axum itself remained neutral in the Great War. Although the Negus, Abram LXIX, had pro-Dumani sympathies and wished to re-establish a real monarchy, the metropolitans, with the backing of the Vigilance Committee, laid siege to his palace and forced him to shake hands with the metropolitans as an equal as a condition of release. Axum became a hub of money laundering in Crataea due to its ostensible neutrality--outside the state system in the Common Law, yet governed by a moderate faction of a different race and interest than those of the Oryontic Commonwealth. This allowed the resumption of regular commerce in Axum and began to establish it as a center of commerce in its own right.

This position was regularized in the various treaties which ended the Great War. In exchange for curtailing Commonwealth influence in outer Crataea, Axum was recognized as both part of the Commonwealth and its estatists granted special privileges in dealing with state powers, chief of those the authority to control passage between the two areas. Intended to inconvenience Common Law persons by forcing them through the most distant point of entry possible, the Entrepot Treaty of 192X set the conditions for Axum to grow explosively when air travel became commonplace.

Modern Axum

Funds Arm Choppers in the 90s

Geography

Axum occupies the alluvial delta and lagoon of the Atbara River, which runs from central Sandirius to the Gulf of Axum. Slightly over half of its area consists of internal water. Axum's 1,350 square kilometers of land area are entirely urbanized, with suburbs spilling into neighboring Sandirius, which surrounds it entirely. Axumite urbanization is consequently extremely dense and often haphazard. Certain neighborhoods, such as those in the low-income Geshen quarter, are better defined in terms of vertical rather than horizontal space. Two neighborhoods in Geshen (Little Tairendia and Geshen-Which-Floats) not only exist exclusively above ground but pass through each other in vertical space due to the installation of two escalators in 1981.

As a Common Law polity there are no formal administrative subdivisions in Axum. However, the city is divided into five traditional districts: the Amba Negast, the Old City, the Arsenal, the Settlements, and the New City. The Amba Negast is the oldest and smallest district, and encompasses the walled compound of the imperial residence. It is surrounded by the Old City, the part of Axum outside the Amba Negast and within the pre-1860 borders. The Arsenal to the north is the industrial and commercial port of Axum built in the 20th century by the Metropolitan Association. The Settlements are adjacent to the Arsenal and is an international district with heavy Wallasean influence. Finally, the New City, far and away the largest district in terms of population and land area, encompasses all of Axum not in the other four districts.

The Geshen neighborhood in the Old City. Since this photograph was taken in 1979 the unregulated construction has consumed the low-rise neighborhood on the left. 
The Sublime Portal, the ceremonial entryway into the Great Bastion of the Amba Negast. 
The Kembe market was renovated with a permanent, multistory roofed building in 2005 to replace the lean-tos and shantytowns that previously occupied the space. 
An intersection in the New City during a lull in traffic. 

Politics

Like all Common Law polities, no central government exercises its jurisdiction over the city. In Axum, a multitude of private organizations provide public services, to include law enforcement and military defense, to their contributors. The largest of such organizations are the Axumite monarchy and the Chamber of Commerce.

The Negus of Axum remains as a ceremonial figurehead and retains his titles, though legally a private individual without jurisdiction beyond his own property, as by far the wealthiest and most powerful estatist in the city. The current Negus is Menelik XLII Makonnen, coronated in 2011. The royal household possesses significant wealth through its commercial and real estate holdings inside and outside the boundaries of the city, and sponsors a portion of the Axumite security forces.

The Chamber of Commerce is a military association founded in 1860, after the Treaty of Mhontlo. The Chamber of Commerce is a group funded by largely landless businessmen and merchant houses to resolve their disputes and to advance their interests against the Negus and powerful foreign concerns.

Law and order

As a Common Law polity, disputes within Axum are resolved primarily by contract and arbitration, without a state claiming legal monopoly over the area. Disputants resolve their conflicts through a mutually acceptable arena, usually an estatist or a neutral court. The superior form of law in Axum is Praetonian common law, to which disputants generally defer when indigenous courts fail to produce a mutually satisfactory ruling.

Public Force gendarmes march in review at a sports stadium.

Public order is maintained by private security hired by property owners, or by armed individuals. Large estatists, such as the Negus of Axum or the merchant houses, hire units of watchmen or gendarmes to keep the peace over the public spaces of the city.

Armed forces

The Axumite military consist of the armed forces levied by the Negus of Axum and the Chamber of Commerce, organized under a joint command. Combined they number about 50,000 full-time troops, however over a quarter million Axumites have signed emergency service contracts. Most adults contribute part of their income towards the maintenance of the Axumite armed forces, as direct tithes or as premiums on other payments, such as land rent.

The Negus of Axum, as the city's traditional monarch, had the authority to levy troops from his subjects as a form of corvee during pre-modern times. Although corvee was abolished by the Treaty of Mhontlo, the prestige and wealth of the Axumite monarchy allow it to maintain a significant contingent of troops and attract recruits for the household forces. The household troops of the Negus include the best-equipped troops of the Axumite land forces, such as the Azawad Parachute Lancers and the Zigawit KT. The royal family maintains a significant air force staffed with foreign pilots to support their scarce ground troops.

The Chamber of Commerce maintains the naval and aerial security of the city, and its gendarmes, the Public Force, are capable of limited ground combat. The Chamber of Commerce, the traditional guardians of the city's port, possesses a fleet of small surface combatants and diesel-electric submarines.

Foreign relations

Ras Menelik XLI (left) established Axum as an "intermediate ground" between Cratean states and Common Law polities during the 20th century.

The city of Axum has no foreign relations as such; "Axum" as defined by its common law merely refers to the collection of estates and properties over which the Mbeyan emperor and his agents were forbidden from per the Treaty of Mhontlo. However, Axumite estatists serve as the intermediary of choice between many Crataean states and the Commonwealth, due to the treaty system established at the end of the Great War. Axum's location on the periphery of all major spheres of influence have made it a preferred neutral ground for negotiations between states and the varied associations/estatists of the Common Law.

Axumite-Sandirian relations

The Republic of Sandirius borders Axum at all points on land, and furthermore is completely urbanized. Its largest metropolitan area, Lodwar-Mekelle, is the border region with Axum and harbors over ten million people. Due to the unique relationship between Sandirius and Axum, both parties enjoy degrees of extraterritoriality within the other. Much of the Axumite middle class lives abroad in Sandirius due to lower rents and prices, while still owing their loyalty to Axumite estatists. Conversely, Sandirian subjects often work and reside in Axum and remit their incomes back into Sandirius, accounting for about 10% of its GDP. To sustain this arrangement, Axumite sheriffs are permitted to serve bounties in Sandirius and Sandirian policemen are allowed to detain Sandirian subjects inside Axumite territory.

Foreign intelligence activities

Template:Seealso

Due to its neutrality and porous borders, Axum is a hotbed of activity for foreign intelligence agencies, especially the Praetonian Vigilance Committee, which is closely aligned with the royal household. Over 100,000 companies and organizations established inside city boundaries are recognized to be front organizatons, with over 2,000 purported to be linked to the Vigilance Committee alone. The majority of Axumite shell organizations serve quotidian purposes of tax evasion and money laundering, however, many are also clandestine conduits of money and resources to criminal or terrorist organizations. Most infamously, the Motappan Arm Choppers received much of their funding and weapons through front organizations linked to the Vigilance Committee, which had backed the anarchist factions of the Motappan Civil War.

Economy

Axum possesses a high-income, industrialized market economy based on connecting southwestern Crataea to the rest of the world. The port of Axum is the largest port in South Crataea by terms of cargo tonnage and transshipment traffic. It serves as an entrepot into West Crataea for goods produced in Common Law areas and a port of export for bulk goods produced in Motappaland and Sandirius such as foodstuffs, minerals, and hydrocarbons. Axum Intercontinental Airport, the largest airport in the city, is also the only legal point of entry into Motappaland, Mbeyanchi, Sandirius, and Sharfland for Common Law persons.

The electronics industry in Axum, starting as a collection of tinkerers on Snake Island, now accounts for X% of global computing substrate production, as a result of industrialization and cheap coltan from Sandirius and Motappaland. Cheap raw materials (in particular rare earth minerals) make Axum a leading producer of complex machine tools and aircraft components, such as the turbine blades for MacMillan Consolidated and Wentworth and Sons aircraft.

Axum is also a major financial center. The Axum Metropolitan Stock Exchange is the third largest in Crataea by market capitalization. Axumite markets are used to connect Common Law capital to otherwise denied Crataean projects, and as a method of money laundering in other states to put their investments beyond a government's reach.

Culture

An Axumite "suitman" in 2014, wearing an elaborate beaded outfit.

Axumite culture reflects its history as both an ancient city and a rapidly-expanding commercial entrepot. Immigration into Axum is often seen as the first step in upward mobility or escape for many in Crataea.

Attire

Attire and fashion play an outsize role in Axumite culture, as outgrowths of mass immigration and urbanization. At first a method to overcome low literacy and myriad language barriers in the slums, wearing exaggerated ethnic outfits to identify themselves when entering or passing through restricted communities. Textile workers would acquire factory castoffs for personal wear, although higher status came to those who purchased the garments they made at retail price. Often the price tags would be retained on the clothing as a show of wealth.

Rising incomes led to elaborate subcultures of dandies such as suitmen and izikhothane, as well as artistic movements such as Cratopunk.

Demographics

About nine million people live in the bounds of Axum proper, with another seven million living in its surrounding areas under Sandirian control. There has never been a complete census of the entire city; though both the Negus and the Metropolitan Association keep records of fee-paying households they hold their censuses on alternating years.

See also