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This article is about the civilization in Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms. For other uses, see Ethiopians.
Civilization Technology tree Strategy
Relive the glory of the once mighty Aksumite Empire and rule the Red Sea. Launch military expeditions into the Arabian peninsula and far beyond to hold a firm grip on your trading partners. Lead forces of skilled archers, devastating siege engines, and hard-hitting Shotel Warriors to bloody victories. Will your dynasty stand strong against internal conflicts or will your successor already be preparing your funeral?

The Ethiopians' civilization music theme in the Definitive Edition

The Ethiopians are an African civilization introduced Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms based on the Aksumite and Zagwe kingdoms in the Horn of Africa. They focus on archers and siege weapons. Gameplay-wise, they are considered a "glass cannon" civilization, as they lack several key technologies for their front-line units (which is also reflected by their unique unit). They are noted to be the only civilization to have access to all upgrades for their siege weapons (Siege Engineers included).

The Ethiopians as a civilization also appear as a playable civilization in the Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition - The African Royals expansion.


The Ethiopian Archery Range is decent at best but still one of their greatest assets since their Archers get all upgrades and fire faster. Their infantry is good, lacking the Champion but getting the Shotel Warrior instead. In addition, the Ethiopians get the Pikeman upgrade for free. Their cavalry is weak, lacking key units and technologies. Their navy is below average as well, lacking the Fast Fire Ship, Heavy Demolition Ship, and Elite Cannon Galleon. Their Monks do not get Block Printing and Redemption, however they are generally worthy. Their siege weapons are a big selling point for the Ethiopians. They are the only civilization to get all the units available in the Siege Workshop, and have a unique technology that makes the siege engines far more dangerous by increasing their Area of Effect. Their defenses are a bit underwhelming, but their economy is strong, only missing Crop Rotation.

Campaign appearances[]

The Ethiopians have a campaign devoted to their civilization: Yodit. They also appear in:


Francisco de Almeida[]


This campaign is played as the Ethiopians.

  • Path of Exile
    • Gidajan - Enemy
    • Fort in the Mountains - Enemy
    • Camp in the Forest - Enemy
    • Aksum - Ally
  • The Right Partner
    • Hostile Beja Tribes - Enemy
    • Raiders - Enemy
    • Nobatia - Ally → Potential Enemy
    • Beja Tribes - Ally
  • A Fallen Crown
    • Dagnajan - Enemy
    • Aksumite Empire - Enemy
    • Begemder - Enemy
    • Orthodox Monks - Enemy
    • Alodian Traders - Neutral → Potential Ally
    • Darginda - Ally
  • Broken Stelae
    • Gidajan - Enemy
    • Aksumite Empire - Enemy
    • Ethiopian Rebels - Ally
    • Local Tribes - Ally
  • Welcome Home
    • Gidajan - Enemy
    • Aksum (Gidajan) - Enemy
    • Aksum (Yodit) - Ally
    • Locals - Ally
    • Aksum - Ally


Unique unit[]

Shotelwarrioricon-DE.png Shotel Warrior: Rapidly deployed infantry with high attack but low HP

Unique technologies[]

UniqueTechCastle-DE.png Royal Heirs: Halves the creation time of Shotel Warriors.
UniqueTechImperial-DE.png Torsion Engines: Increases the blast radius of Siege Workshop units.

Civilization bonuses[]

  • The Archer line fires 18% faster.
  • Receive +100 food and +100 gold whenever a new Age is reached.
  • The Pikeman upgrade is free.

Team bonus[]

Towers and Outposts have +3 Line of Sight.[note 1]


The African Kingdoms[]

  • Initially, Skirmishers benefit from the civilization bonus and fire faster. With patch 4.8, that was removed.
  • Initially can research Arrowslits. With patch 4.8, it was removed from the technology tree.
  • Initially, Shotel Warriors have +2 (+3 for Elite) attack against standard buildings. With patch 4.8, that bonus was reduced to +1 for Elite (0 for non-Elite).
  • The Halberdier upgrade is free.
  • Non-Elite Shotel Warriors have 40 hit points.
  • The Elite Shotel Warrior upgrade costs 1,200 food, 550 gold.

Rise of the Rajas[]

  • With patch 5.7, the free Halberdier upgrade was removed.

Definitive Edition[]

Dawn of the Dukes[]

  • With update 56005, non-Elite Shotel Warriors have 45 hit points and the Elite Shotel Warrior upgrade costs 900 food, 450 gold.

Dynasties of India[]

  • No longer receive bonus resources at the game start in games with Feudal or later starting age.

In-game dialogue language[]

Ethiopian units speak Amharic, a South Semitic language (related to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic languages) written with the Geʽez script descended from Egyptian hieroglyphs and ancient South Arabian script.

  • Select 1 Āwo? (አዎ?) – Yes?
  • Female Select 2 Sälamnesh (ሰላምነሽ) – Hello (female)
  • Male Select 2 Sälamneh (ሰላምነ) – Hello (male)
  • Select 3 Zgju əne (ዝግጁእኔ) – I'm ready (literally - "Ready I am")
  • Select 4 Təzazoci zigiju (ትእዛዞጭ ዝግጁ) – Ready for orders (literally "Order-ready")
  • Task 1 Āwo (አዎ) – Yes
  • Female Task 2
  • Male Task 2
  • Task 3 Əshi (እሺ) – All right
  • Task 4 Afäts'ämäwalähu (አፈጸመዋለሁ) – I will do
  • Female Build Gnbänyani (ግንበኛን) – Mason (female)
  • Male Build Gnbänya (ግንበኛ) – Mason (male)
  • Chop Anch'ät fälägäny (ዕንጨት ፈለገኝ) – Wood seeker
  • Female Farm Mgb säbäsäbäny (ምግብ ሰበሰበኝ) – Food gatherer
  • Male Farm Əhl säbäsäbäny (እህል ሰበሰበኝ) – Grain gatherer
  • Fish Āsat magny (ዓሣት ማግኝ) – Fishes finder
  • Female Forage Əhl säbäsäbäny (እህል ሰበሰበኝ) – Grain gatherer
  • Male Forage Mgb säbäsäbäny (ምግብ ሰበሰበኝ) – Food gatherer
  • Hunt Adany (አዳኝ) – Hunter
  • Mine Maadn qufäräny (ማዕድን ቁፈረኝ) – Mine digger
  • Repair T'ägäny (ጠገኝ) – Repairer
  • Select 1 Āwo? (አዎ?) – Yes?
  • Select 2
  • Select 3
  • Move 1
  • Move 2 Əshi (እሺ) – All right
  • Move 3
  • Attack 1 Wäga! (ወጋ!) – Attack!
  • Attack 2 Ənwagalän! (እንዋጋለን!) – Let us attack!
  • Attack 3
  • Select 1 Āwo? (አዎ?) – Yes?
  • Select 2
  • Select 3
  • Select 4
  • Move 1
  • Move 2 Āwo (አዎ) – Yes
  • Move 3
  • Move 4 Afäts'ämäwalähu (አፈጸመዋለሁ) – I will do
  • Select 1
  • Select 2
  • Select 3
  • Select 4
  • Move 1
  • Move 2
  • Move 3
  • Move 4

AI player names[]

When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Ethiopian AI characters:

  • Abba Guba (አባ ጉባ): One of the Nine Saints of Ethiopia, who were important in the growth of Christianity in Ethiopia.
  • Abuna Frumentius (ፍሬምናጦስ): See Frumentius.
  • Amda Seyon (ዐምደ ጽዮን): An Ethiopian emperor from the Solomonic dynasty; reigns 1314–1344.
  • Amir Habbuba (አሚር ሓብቡባ): Amir (king) ruled the ancient walled city of Harar (969–1000).
  • Dil Na'od (ዲል ናኦድ): The last king of Aksum before the Zagwe dynasty; lived 9th–10th century.
  • Frumentius (ፍሬምናጦስ): The first Bishop of Aksum who were credited for bringing Christianity to the kingdom; died 383.
  • Gelawdewos (ገላውዴዎስ): Personal name of Asnaf Sagad I, an Ethiopian emperor from the Solomonic dynasty; lived 1521/1522–1559.
  • Kaleb of Axum (እለ አጽብሐ): The most well-documented, if not the best known, king of Aksum; reigned ca. 520.
  • Lalibela (ላሊበላ): Personal name of Gebre Mesqel, the most well-known of Zagwe kings known for completing the monolithic rock-cut churches on the namesake city; lived 1162–1221.
  • Yakuno Amlak (ይኵኖ አምላክ): Personal name of Tasfa Iyasus, a descendant of Dil Nao'd and the restorer of the Solomonic dynasty; reigned 1270–1285.
  • Yared (ያሬድ): A legendary Ethiopian musician credited for inventing the sacred music of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Ethiopian musical notation; lived 505–571.
  • Yodit (ጉዲት): Yodit was a semi-legendary non-Christian queen (flourished c. 960) who laid waste to Axum and its countryside, destroyed churches and monuments, and attempted to exterminate the members of the ruling Axumite dynasty. Her deeds are recorded in the oral tradition and mentioned incidentally in various historical accounts.
  • Zara Yaqob (ዘርአ:ያዕቆብ): Personal name of Kwestantinos I, emperor of Ethiopia from the Solomonic dynasty and one of the greatest rulers in Ethiopia's history; lived 1399–1468.


  • The Ethiopians are the only civilization that has access to almost all units and their upgrades at the Siege Workshop, except for the Armored Elephant and Siege Elephant.
  • Historically the Ethiopians had African war elephants; indeed, Axumite general Abraha's army included hundreds of war elephants. However the Ethiopians in-game do not have access to the Battle Elephant, Armored Elephant, or Siege Elephant.
  • The user interface image displays a coin from the British Museum Collection[2][3] minted by Ezana, who was ruler of the Kingdom of Aksum, an ancient kingdom centered in what is now Eritrea and the Tigray Region of northern Ethiopia.
  • The African architecture set shared with the Malians is based on the Sudano-Sahelian architecture, with elements of Aksumite architecture in the Imperial Age.
  • Due to sharing the same architecture style as the Malians and despite being Christians, the Ethiopians' Monastery is designed after a mosque rather than a Christian church. This is a quirk they shared with the Byzantines and Cumans before the former's architecture style was changed in the Definitive Edition.
  • When Ensemble Studios still existed, one of the original designers, Sandy Petersen, hinted that he once proposed an Age of Africa expansion sequel, with Ethiopians as one of the planned civilizations. Unlike the Ethiopians from The African Kingdoms, his version of Ethiopians was a defensive-oriented civilization with unique Monk and ranged infantry.[4]
  • Until the release of the Bohemians, the Ethiopians are the last civilization that lacks Crop Rotation (unlike Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition where both they and the Hausa have Crop Rotation).
  • In Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition, Ethiopians are featured as the ally player representing the Ethiopians against the Adal Sultanate (Somalians) in the Christopher Da Gama's Expedition scenario of the Historical Battles. They are also set to be playable in the upcoming expansion The African Royals.


Ethiopia was mentioned for the first time around 1200BC in the Greek epic poem the Iliad, although the term referred to the entire region south of Egypt. Starting in the 4th century AD, “Ethiopia” was used more specifically to refer to the kingdom of Aksum and its successor states, situated in the present-day countries of Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. The 15th century Book of Aksum, a collection of historical documents, explained this connotation to Ityopp'is, son of the biblical Cush and legendary founder of the city of Aksum.

The kingdom of Aksum (AD 100 – 940) was a major naval and trading power. Located at the mouth of the Red Sea, the empire profited from its central position in the maritime network between the Roman Empire, India and Arabia. The port of Adulis was an international trade hub for silk, spices, glass, gold and ivory. Although elephants have become an endangered species in the region, herds were abundant during the Middle Ages and, consequently, ivory was a major export product. Aksum's commercial dealings were at the same time a primary motivation and source for military campaigns: from the 3rd century onwards, the kingdom regularly sent expeditions to the Arabian Peninsula and in the 4th century, King Ezana conquered the neighboring kingdom of Kush. Surpassed only by Rome, Persia and China, Ethiopia was one of the greatest world powers of that time.

At first, the Aksumites practiced a polytheistic religion. Most remarkably, they erected grand burial monuments, such as large stelae (up to 33 metres high) and tombs. Under the rule of King Ezana, Aksum adopted Christianity, which would remain the state religion throughout the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, both Jews and Muslims enjoyed toleration throughout the region. In AD 615, Ethiopia even gave shelter to some of the early followers of the prophet Muhammad, and would maintain generally good relations with Islamic powers until the 16th century.

The decline of the Aksumite empire was a slow process that began in the 8th century and was caused by several factors. First, the rise of Islamic states in the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa marked the end of Aksum's dominance over trade in the Red Sea. Second, climate change and deforestation reduced agricultural output. Finally, a civil war around AD 940 weakened the kingdom, allowing Queen Yodit to kill the last Aksumite king. Historians still debate over whether this queen is to be seen as the founder of the Zagwe dynasty (AD 940- 1270) or whether this kingdom was established only after Mara Takla Haymanot overthrew her descendants in AD 1137. Likewise, the following history of the Zagwe remains shrouded in mystery.

Sources on the subject of the successor state of the Zagwe Dynasty are more common. In AD 1270, a local nobleman, Yekuno Amlak, questioned the legitimacy of the ruling king and usurped the throne, thus founding the long-lasting Solomonic dynasty. Through military expeditions and administrative reformation, Emperor Amda Seyon (AD 1314-1344) managed to consolidate the dynasty's power and greatly expand Ethiopian territory. As with the Aksumite kingdom, the Ethiopian army consisted mainly of archers and infantry with spears and swords. Perhaps the most characteristic weapon was the Shotel, a curved sword used to dismount cavalry or to reach around shields.

At the end of the Middle Ages, the Solomonic dynasty, surrounded by Islamic states, sought to make contact with European kingdoms. After the failure of the Crusades, Europe was looking for Christian allies. Pursuing the legend of Prester John, a wealthy Christian king rumored to reign in the east, a Portugese expedition reached Ethiopia in AD 1490. This proved to be an important meeting, as the Adal Sultanate invaded and conquered most of Ethiopia four decades later. In response, Emperor Dawit II requested the help of the Portuguese, who sent 400 musketeers. Together, they were able to repel the invaders, and until the late 20th century the Solomonic dynasty would remain in control.[1]



  1. Does not apply to Donjons.

Video overview[]


v  d  e
Civilizations in Age of Empires II
AoE2-DLCicon-0.png The Age of Kings
East AsianChinese · Japanese · Mongols
Middle EasternPersians · Saracens · Turks
Central EuropeanGoths · Teutons · Vikings
Western EuropeanBritons · Celts · Franks
AoE2-DLCicon-1.png The Conquerors
Native AmericanAztecs · Mayans
East AsianKoreans
Central EuropeanHuns
AoE2-DLCicon-2.png The Forgotten
Native AmericanIncas
South AsianHindustanis (formerly Indians)
Eastern EuropeanMagyars · Slavs
AoE2-DLCicon-3.png The African Kingdoms
AfricanEthiopians · Malians
Middle EasternBerbers
AoE2-DLCicon-4.png Rise of the Rajas
East AsianVietnamese
Southeast AsianBurmese · Khmer · Malay
AoE2-DLCicon-5.png The Last Khans (Definitive Edition)
Eastern EuropeanBulgarians · Lithuanians
Central AsianCumans · Tatars
AoE2Icon-LordsWest.png Lords of the West
Western EuropeanBurgundians
Dawn of the Dukes icon.png Dawn of the Dukes
Eastern EuropeanBohemians · Poles
AoE2Icon-DynastiesIndia.png Dynasties of India
South AsianBengalis · Dravidians · Gurjaras