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c. 980 BCE–c. 400 BCE
Dʿmt is given as "Damot" on this map, not to be confused with the later and more southwestern Kingdom of Damot.
Dʿmt is given as "Damot" on this map, not to be confused with the later and more southwestern Kingdom of Damot.
CapitalUnknown, Yeha (likely)[1]
Common languageslocal language
Historical eraIron Age
• Established
c. 980 BCE
• Disestablished
c. 400 BCE
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Land of Punt
Aksumite Empire

Dʿmt Unvocalized Ge'ez: ደዐመተ, DʿMT theoretically vocalized as ዳዓማት, Daʿamat[2] or ዳዕማት, Daʿəmat[3]) was a kingdom located in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia that existed during the 10th to 5th centuries BC. Few inscriptions by or about this kingdom survive and very little archaeological work has taken place. As a result, it is not known whether Dʿmt ended as a civilization before the Kingdom of Aksum's early stages, evolved into the Aksumite state, or was one of the smaller states united in the Kingdom of Aksum possibly around the beginning of the 1st century.[4]


Given the presence of a large temple complex, the capital of Dʿmt may have been present day Yeha, in Tigray Region, Ethiopia.[1] At Yeha, the temple to the god Ilmuqah is still standing.[5]

The kingdom developed irrigation schemes, used plows, grew millet, and made iron tools and weapons.

Some modern historians including Stuart Munro-Hay, Rodolfo Fattovich, Ayele Bekerie, Cain Felder, and Ephraim Isaac consider this civilization to be indigenous, although Sabaean-influenced due to the latter's dominance of the Red Sea, while others like Joseph Michels, Henri de Contenson, Tekle-Tsadik Mekouria, and Stanley Burstein have viewed Dʿmt as the result of a mixture of Sabaeans and indigenous peoples.[6][7] Some sources consider the Sabaean influence to be minor, limited to a few localities, and disappeared after a few decades or a century, perhaps representing a trading or military colony in some sort of symbiosis or military alliance with the civilization of Dʿmt or some other proto-Aksumite state.[8][9] However other sources hold that Dʿmt, though having indigenous roots, was under strong South Arabian economic and cultural influence.[10]

A 2013 study proposed a migration model involving "First, a large-scale movement of people from west Eurasia into eastern Africa around 3,000 y ago (perhaps from southern Arabia and associated with the D’mt kingdom and the arrival of Ethiosemitic languages) resulted in the dispersal of west Eurasian ancestry throughout eastern Africa."[11]

After the fall of Dʿmt in the 5th century BC, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller unknown successor kingdoms. This lasted until the rise of one of these polities during the first century BC, the Aksumite Kingdom. The ancestor of medieval and modern day Ethiopia, Aksum was able to reunite the area.[12]


Due to the similarity of the name of Dʿmt and Damot when transcribed into Latin characters, these two kingdoms are often confused or conflated with one another, but there is no evidence of any relationship to Damot, a kingdom far to the south.

Known rulers[edit]

The following is a list of four known rulers of Dʿmt, in chronological order:[7]

Term Name Queen Notes
Dates from ca. 700 BC to ca. 650 BC
Mlkn Wʿrn Ḥywt ʿArky(t)n contemporary of the Sabaean mukarrib Karib'il Watar.
Mkrb, Mlkn Rdʿm Smʿt
Mkrb, Mlkn Ṣrʿn Rbḥ Yrʿt Son of Wʿrn Ḥywt, "King Ṣrʿn of the tribe YGʿḎ [=Agʿazi, cognate to Ge'ez], mkrb of DʿMT and SB'"
Mkrb, Mlkn Ṣrʿn Lmn ʿAdt Son of Rbḥ, contemporary of the Sabaean mukarrib Sumuhu'alay, "King Ṣrʿn of the tribe YGʿḎ, mkrb of DʿMT and SB'"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Shaw, Thurstan (1995), The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns, Routledge, p. 612, ISBN 978-0-415-11585-8
  2. ^ L'Arabie préislamique et son environnement historique et culturel: actes du Colloque de Strasbourg, 24-27 juin 1987; page 264
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: A-C; page 174
  4. ^ Uhlig, Siegbert (ed.), Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005. p. 185.
  5. ^ Stuart Munro-Hay (2002). Ethiopia: The Unknown Land. I.B. Taurus. p. 18.
  6. ^ Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity. Edinburgh: University Press, 1991, p. 57.
  7. ^ a b Nadia Durrani, The Tihamah Coastal Plain of South-West Arabia in its Regional context c. 6000 BC - AD 600 (Society for Arabian Studies Monographs No. 4) . Oxford: Archaeopress, 2005, p. 121.
  8. ^ Munro-Hay, Aksum, p. 57.
  9. ^ Phillipson (2009). "The First Millennium BC in the Highlands of Northern Ethiopia and South–Central Eritrea: A Reassessment of Cultural and Political Development". African Archaeological Review. 26: 257–274. doi:10.1007/s10437-009-9064-2.
  10. ^ "The Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite Settlement of NE Tigrai, Ethiopia". Journal of Field Archaeology. 33 (2): 153.
  11. ^ Reich, David; Pakendorf, Brigitte; Stoneking, Mark; Berger, Bonnie; Lipson, Mark; Loh, Po-Ru; Patterson, Nick; Pickrell, Joseph K. (18 February 2014). "Ancient west Eurasian ancestry in southern and eastern Africa". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (7): 2632–2637. arXiv:1307.8014. doi:10.1073/pnas.1313787111. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 3932865. PMID 24550290. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  12. ^ Pankhurst, Richard K.P. Addis Tribune, "Let's Look Across the Red Sea I", January 17, 2003 (archive.org mirror copy)