Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.


Ancient Christian Church

Esba’él or Esbana, Emperor (perhaps fl. c. 5th - early 6th century A.D.), was a Christian ruler of the Aksumite empire believed to have reigned in the fifth or early sixth century. He is known from coins found mainly in South Arabia. These were struck in gold, bear his effigy and the Cross of Christ, and are inscribed in Greek, referring to him as king of the Habasat and perhaps as king of Saba, and king of Zion. Since the currency was made at about the same period as that of Emperor Kaléb, it has been suggested that Esba’él is the South Arabian equivalent of Emperor Kaléb’s other name, ‘Ellä-‘Asbeha, and that the coins were struck during the Aksumite occupation there in the early sixth century. The coins of each ruler are, however, quite distinct.

A. K. Irvine and Richard K. P. Pankhurst


A. Anzani, “Numismatica axumita,” Rivista Italiana di Numismatica e Scienze Affini, XXXIX (1926): 35, 66-71.

C. Conti Rossini, “Monete aksumite,” Africa Italiana, Vol. I (1927): 197.

A. Kammerer, La Mer Rouge, l’Abyssinie et l’Arabie depuis l’antiquité (Le Caire, 1929), Vol. I, 222-3.

——–, “Numismatique d’Aksoum; nouvelle monnaie du roi Esbael (fin du Ve ou début du Vle siècle de notre ère),” Revue Numismatique (1934): 37-42.

J. Doresse, L’Empire du Prêtre-Jean (Paris, 1957), Vol. I, 134.

This article is reproduced, with permission, from The Dictionary of Ethiopian Biography, Vol. 1 ‘From Early Times to the End of the Zagwé Dynasty c. 1270 A.D.,’ copyright © 1975, edited by Belaynesh Michael, S. Chojnacki and Richard Pankhurst, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All rights reserved.