Aksum, also spelled Axum, ancient town in northern Ethiopia. It lies at an elevation of about 7,000 feet (2,100 metres), just west of Adwa.Once the seat of the kingdom of Aksum, it is now a tourist town and religious centre best known for its antiquities. Tall granite obelisks, 126 inches all, stand (or lie broken) in the central square. One measuring 110 feet (34 metres), now fallen, is said to be the tallest obelisk ever erected. The obelisks range from nearly plain slabs to intricately inscribed pillars. Door- and window-like shapes are carved into some of the pillars, giving them the appearance of slender buildings. The most recent of the obelisks announces the adoption of Christianity by a 4th-century king. One of these remarkable objects, dated to at least 300 CE, was looted by Italian troops in 1937. Returned to Ethiopia by the Italian government in 2005, it was reerected in Aksum in time for the celebration of Ethiopia’s millennium year in 2008.