Gold coin of Axumite Kingdom, King Endubis (c.270-300 CE)
We’ve featured coins from Axum before, to highlight some of their strange minting practices, today we look at a coin that has some interesting linguistic features. This coin of King Endubis (sometimes spelled Endybis) has legends in two languages, on one side, Endubis is named King of Axum in ancient Greek, while on the other he is described as Bishi Dakhu, a man of Dakhu in Ge'ez, a south Semitic language native to Ethiopia. This language is now functionally extinct in terms of speaking, but remains a powerful liturgical language, used by several Ethiopian Orthodox churches.Not much is known about Endubis himself, though he is one of the earliest kings of Axum to strike coins. It is not clear which of the two portraits on the coin is Endybis, or whether both are meant to show him. Axumite coins frequently have two portraits, and they are usually flanked by ears of corn as they are here, signaling the prosperity of the kingdom.