Nubia
Overview
 
Nubia is a region along the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 river, which is located in northern Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 and southern Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

.

There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization
Arabization
Arabization or Arabisation describes a growing cultural influence on a non-Arab area that gradually changes into one that speaks Arabic and/or incorporates Arab culture...

 of much of the Nubian population. Nubia was again united within Ottoman Egypt
Ottoman Egypt
Ottoman Egypt covers two main periods:* Egypt Eyalet 1517–1867 under direct rule of the Ottoman Empire.* Khedivate of Egypt 1867–1914 as autonomous tributary state of the Ottoman Empire....

 in the 19th century, and within Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan referred to the manner by which Sudan was administered between 1899 and 1956, when it was a condominium of Egypt and the United Kingdom.-Union with Egypt:...

 from 1899 to 1956.

The name Nubia is derived from that of the Noba
Noba
Noba is a term found in a number of historical sources discussing ancient and Medieval Nubia. Its exact meaning is uncertain, with ancient sources themselves seeming confused about the region south of Egypt...

 people, nomads who settled the area in the 4th century, with the collapse of the kingdom of Meroë
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

.
Encyclopedia
Nubia is a region along the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 river, which is located in northern Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 and southern Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

.

There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization
Arabization
Arabization or Arabisation describes a growing cultural influence on a non-Arab area that gradually changes into one that speaks Arabic and/or incorporates Arab culture...

 of much of the Nubian population. Nubia was again united within Ottoman Egypt
Ottoman Egypt
Ottoman Egypt covers two main periods:* Egypt Eyalet 1517–1867 under direct rule of the Ottoman Empire.* Khedivate of Egypt 1867–1914 as autonomous tributary state of the Ottoman Empire....

 in the 19th century, and within Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan referred to the manner by which Sudan was administered between 1899 and 1956, when it was a condominium of Egypt and the United Kingdom.-Union with Egypt:...

 from 1899 to 1956.

The name Nubia is derived from that of the Noba
Noba
Noba is a term found in a number of historical sources discussing ancient and Medieval Nubia. Its exact meaning is uncertain, with ancient sources themselves seeming confused about the region south of Egypt...

 people, nomads who settled the area in the 4th century, with the collapse of the kingdom of Meroë
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

. The Noba spoke a Nilo-Saharan language, ancestral to Old Nubian. Old Nubian was used in mostly religious texts dating from the 8th and 15th centuries AD.
Before the 4th century, and throughout classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

, Nubia was known as Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

, or, in Classical Greek
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 usage, included under the name Ethiopia (Aithiopia).

Historically, the people of Nubia spoke at least two varieties of the Nubian language group, a subfamily which includes Nobiin (the descendant of Old Nubian), Kenuzi-Dongola, Midob
Midob
Midob is an ethnic group in the Meidob Hills in Sudan. They speak Midob, a Nilo-Saharan language. The population of this ethnic group possibly exceeds 50,000....

 and several related varieties in the northern part of the Nuba Mountains
Nuba Mountains
Nuba Mountains is an area located in South Kordofan, Sudan. The area is home to a group of indigenous ethnic groups known collectively as the Nuba peoples. In the 18th century, Nuba Mountains became home to the kingdom of Taqali that controlled the hills of the mountains until their defeat by...

 in South Kordofan. A variety (Birgid) was spoken (at least until 1970) north of Nyala
Nyala, Sudan
Nyala is the capital of South Darfur state in the western part of the Sudan. Nyala is located at elevation 2,208 feet in the Darfur historical region.- History :...

 in Darfur
Darfur
Darfur is a region in western Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916. The region is divided into three federal states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur...

 but is now extinct.

Geography

Throughout its History, Nubia is broken into three distinct regions: “Lower Nubia”, "Upper Nubia", and "Southern Nubia." "Lower Nubia" was in modern southern Egypt, which lies between the first and second cataract
Cataracts of the Nile
The cataracts of the Nile are shallow lengths of the Nile between Aswan and Khartoum where the surface of the water is broken by many small boulders and stones protruding out of the river bed, as well as many rocky islets. Aswan is also the Southern boundary of Upper Egypt...

. “Upper Nubia and Southern Nubia" were in modern-day northern Sudan, between the second cataract and sixth cataracts of the Nile river. Lower Nubia and Upper Nubia are so called because the Nile flows north, so Upper Nubia was further upstream and of higher elevation, even though it lies geographically south of Lower Nubia.

History

Prehistory

Early settlements sprouted in both Upper and Lower Nubia:
The Restricted flood plains of Lower Nubia. Egyptians referred to Nubia as "Ta-Seti." The Nubians were known to be expert archers and thus their land earned the appellation, "Ta-Seti", or land of the bow. Modern scholars typically refer to the people from this area as the “A-group” culture.
Fertile farmland just south of the third cataract is known as the “Pre-Kerma” culture in Upper Nubia, as they are the ancestors of Kerma. Nubian Civilization originated in 5000 BC in Upper Nubia.

The Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 people in the Nile valley likely came from Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, as well as the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

, and there was shared culture with the two areas and with that of Egypt during this time period. By the 5th millennium BC, the people who inhabited what is now called Nubia participated in the Neolithic revolution
Neolithic Revolution
The Neolithic Revolution was the first agricultural revolution. It was the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement. Archaeological data indicates that various forms of plants and animal domestication evolved independently in 6 separate locations worldwide circa...

. Saharan rock reliefs depict scenes that have been thought to be suggestive of a cattle cult, typical of those seen throughout parts of Eastern Africa and the Nile Valley even to this day. Megaliths discovered at Nabta Playa
Nabta Playa
Nabta Playa was once a large basin in the Nubian Desert, located approximately 800 kilometers south of modern day Cairo or about 100 kilometers west of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt, 22° 32' north, 30° 42' east...

 are early examples of what seems to be one of the world's first astronomical
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 devices, predating Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

 by almost 2000 years. This complexity as observed at Nabta Playa, and as expressed by different levels of authority within the society there, likely formed the basis for the structure of both the Neolithic society at Nabta and the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Around 3800 BC, the second "Nubian" culture, termed the A-Group
A-group
A-Group is the designation for a distinct culture that arose between the First and Second Cataracts of the Nile in Nubia betweenthe Egyptian 1st dynasty and the 3rd millennium BC.The A-Group settled on very poor land with scarce natural resources, yet...

, arose. It was a contemporary of, and ethnically and culturally very similar to, the polities in predynastic Naqada
Naqada
Naqada is a town on the west bank of the Nile in the Egyptian governorate of Qena. It was known in Ancient Egypt as Nubt and in classical antiquity as Ombos. Its name derives from ancient Egyptian nub, meaning gold, on account of the proximity of gold mines in the Eastern Desert.Naqada comprises...

 of Upper Egypt. Around 3300 BC, there is evidence of a unified kingdom, as shown by the finds at Qustul, that maintained substantial interactions (both cultural and genetic) with the culture of Naqadan Upper Egypt. The Nubian culture may have even contributed to the unification of the Nile valley. Also, the Nubians very likely contributed some pharaonic iconography, such as the white crown and serekh, to the Northern Egyptian kings. Around the turn of the protodynastic period, Naqada, in its bid to conquer and unify the whole Nile valley, seems to have conquered Ta-Seti (the kingdom where Qustul was located) and harmonized it with the Egyptian state. Thus, Nubia became the first nome of Upper Egypt. At the time of the first dynasty, the A-Group area seems to have been entirely depopulated, most likely due to immigration to areas west and south.

This culture began to decline in the early 28th century BC. The succeeding culture is known as B-Group. Previously, the B-Group people were thought to have invaded from elsewhere. Today most historians believe that B-Group was merely A-Group but far poorer. The causes of this are uncertain, but it was perhaps caused by Egyptian invasions and pillaging that began at this time. Nubia is believed to have served as a trade corridor between Egypt and tropical Africa long before 3100 BC. Egyptian craftsmen of the period used ivory and ebony wood from tropical Africa which came through Nubia.

In 2300 BC, Nubia was first mentioned in Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley .The term itself was...

 Egyptian accounts of trade missions. From Aswan
Aswan
Aswan , formerly spelled Assuan, is a city in the south of Egypt, the capital of the Aswan Governorate.It stands on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract and is a busy market and tourist centre...

, right above the First Cataract, southern limit of Egyptian control at the time, Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 imported gold, incense, ebony, ivory, and exotic animals from tropical Africa through Nubia. As trade between Egypt and Nubia increased so did wealth and stability. By the Egyptian 6th dynasty, Nubia was divided into a series of small kingdoms. There is debate over whether these C-Group
C-Group
The C-Group was a culture in ancient Nubia. It was named by George A. Reisner. With no central site, and no written evidence about what these people called themselves, Reisner assigned it a letter...

 peoples, who flourished from c. 2240 BC to c. 2150 BC, were another internal evolution or invaders. There are definite similarities between the pottery of A-Group and C-Group, so it may be a return of the ousted Group-As, or an internal revival of lost arts. At this time, the Sahara Desert was becoming too arid to support human beings, and it is possible that there was a sudden influx of Saharan nomads. C-Group pottery is characterized by all-over incised geometric lines with white infill and impressed imitations of basketry.

During the Egyptian Middle Kingdom
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

 (c. 2040–1640 BC), Egypt began expanding into Nubia to gain more control over the trade routes in Northern Nubia and direct access to trade with Southern Nubia. They erected a chain of forts down the Nile below the Second Cataract. These garrisons seemed to have peaceful relations with the local Nubian people but little interaction during the period. A contemporaneous but distinct culture from the C-Group was the Pan Grave culture, so called because of their shallow graves. The Pan Graves are associated with the East bank of the Nile, but the Pan Graves and C-Group definitely interacted. Their pottery is characterized by incised lines of a more limited character than those of the C-Group, generally having interspersed undecorated spaces within the geometric schemes.

Nubia and Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt conquered Nubian territory in various eras, and incorporated parts of the area into its provinces. The Nubians in turn were to conquer Egypt under its 25th Dynasty.

Relations between the two peoples however also show peaceful cultural interchange and cooperation, including mixed marriages. The Medjay
Medjay
The Medjay –from mDA, represents the name Ancient Egyptians gave to a region in northern Sudan–where an ancient people of Nubia inhabited...

 –from mDA, represents the name Ancient Egyptians gave to a region in northern Sudan–where an ancient people of Nubia inhabited. They became part of the Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

ian military as scouts and minor workers.

During the Middle Kingdom
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

 "Medjay" no longer referred to the district of Medja, but to a tribe or clan of people. It is not known what happened to the district, but, after the First Intermediate Period
First Intermediate Period of Egypt
The First Intermediate Period, often described as a “dark period” in ancient Egyptian history, spanned approximately one hundred years after the end of the Old Kingdom from ca. 2181-2055 BC. It included the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and part of the eleventh dynasties. Very little monumental...

, it and other districts in Nubia were no longer mentioned in the written record. Written accounts detail the Medjay as nomadic desert people. Over time they were incorporated into the Egyptian army. In the army, the Medjay served as garrison troops in Egyptian fortifications in Nubia and patrolled the harems as a kind of gendarmerie. This was done in the hopes of preventing their fellow Medjay tribespeople from further attacking Egyptian assets in the region. They were even later used during Kamose
Kamose
Kamose was the last king of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty. He was probably the son of Seqenenre Tao II and Ahhotep I and the full brother of Ahmose I, founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. His reign fell at the very end of the Second Intermediate Period...

’s campaign against the Hyksos
Hyksos
The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta during the twelfth dynasty, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt....

 and became instrumental in making the Egyptian state into a military power. By the 18th Dynasty
Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt
The eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is perhaps the best known of all the dynasties of ancient Egypt...

 of the New Kingdom period the Medjay were an elite paramilitary police force. No longer did the term refer to an ethnic group and over time the new meaning became synonymous with the policing occupation in general. Being an elite police force, the Medjay were often used to protect valuable areas, especially royal and religious complexes. Though they are most notable for their protection of the royal harems and tombs in Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

 and the surrounding areas, the Medjay were known to have been used throughout Upper and Lower Egypt.

Various pharaohs of Nubian origin are held by some Egyptologists to have played an important part towards the area in different eras of Egyptian history, particularly the 12th Dynasty. These rulers handled matters in typical Egyptian fashion, reflecting the close cultural influences between the two regions.
In the New Kingdom, Nubians and Egyptians were often so closely related that some scholars consider them virtually indistinguishable, as the two cultures melded and mixed together.

Kerma

From the pre-Kerma culture, the first kingdom to unify much of the region arose. The Kingdom of Kerma
Kingdom of Kerma
The Kerma culture is a prehistoric culture which flourished from around 2500 BCE to about 1520 BCE in what is now Sudan, centered at Kerma.It emerged as a major centre during the Middle Kingdom period of Ancient Egypt....

, named for its presumed capital at Kerma
Kerma
Kerma was the capital city of the Kingdom of Kerma, which was located in present day Egypt and Sudan. The Kerma site has been confirmed by archaeology to be at least 9,500 years old. Around 3000 BC, a cultural tradition began around Kerma...

, was one of the earliest urban centers in the Nile region. By 1750 BC, the kings of Kerma were powerful enough to organize the labor for monumental walls and structures of mud brick. They also had rich tombs with possessions for the afterlife and large human sacrifices. George Reisner excavated sites at Kerma and found large tombs and a palace-like structures. The structures, named (Deffufa), alluded to the early stability in the region. At one point, Kerma came very close to conquering Egypt. Egypt suffered a serious defeat at the hands of the Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

ites.
According to Davies, head of the joint British Museum and Egyptian archaeological team, the attack was so devastating that if the Kerma forces chose to stay and occupy Egypt, they might have eliminated it for good and brought the great nation to extinction. When Egyptian power revived under the New Kingdom
New Kingdom
The New Kingdom of Egypt, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of Egypt....

 (c. 1532–1070 BC) they began to expand further southwards. The Egyptians destroyed Kerma's kingdom and capitol and expanded the Egyptian empire to the Fourth Cataract.
By the end of the reign of Thutmose I
Thutmose I
Thutmose I was the third Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt. He was given the throne after the death of the previous king Amenhotep I. During his reign, he campaigned deep into the Levant and Nubia, pushing the borders of Egypt further than ever before...

 (1520 BC), all of northern Nubia had been annexed. The Egyptians built a new administrative center at Napata
Napata
Napata was a city-state of ancient Nubia on the west bank of the Nile River, at the site of modern Karima, Northern Sudan.During the 8th to 7th centuries BC, Napata was the capital of the Nubian kingdom of Kush, whence the 25th, or Nubian Dynasty conquered Egypt...

, and used the area to produce gold. The Nubian gold production made Egypt a prime source of the precious metal in the Middle East.

Kush

When the Egyptians pulled out of the Napata region, they left a lasting legacy that was merged with indigenous customs forming the kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

. Archaeologists have found several burials in the area which seem to belong to local leaders. The Kushites were buried there soon after the Egyptians decolonized the Nubian frontier. Kush adopted many Egyptian practices, such as their religion. The Kingdom of Kush survived longer than that of Egypt, invaded Egypt (under the leadership of king Piye
Piye
Piye, was a Kushite king and founder of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled Egypt from 747 BCE to 716 BCE according to Peter Clayton. He ruled from the city of Napata, located deep in Nubia, Sudan...

), and controlled Egypt during the 8th century, Kushite dynasty
Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
The twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt, known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt....

. The Kushites held sway over their northern neighbors for nearly 100 years, until they were eventually repelled by the invading Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns. The Assyrians forced them to move farther south, where they eventually established their capital at Meroë
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

. Of the Nubian kings of this era, Taharqa
Taharqa
Taharqa was a pharaoh of the Ancient Egyptian 25th dynasty and king of the Kingdom of Kush, which was located in Northern Sudan.Taharqa was the son of Piye, the Nubian king of Napata who had first conquered Egypt. Taharqa was also the cousin and successor of Shebitku. The successful campaigns of...

 is perhaps the best known. Taharqa, a son and the third successor of King Piye, was crowned king in Memphis in c.690. Taharqa ruled over both Nubia and Egypt, restored Egyptian temples at Karnak, built new temples and pyramids in Nubia, and repelled some Assyrian attacks.

Meroë

Meroë
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

 (800 BC – c. AD 350) in southern Nubia lay on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, ca. 200 km north-east of Khartoum
Khartoum
Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran"...

. The people there preserved many ancient Egyptian customs but were unique in many respects. They developed their own form of writing, first utilizing Egyptian hieroglyphs
Hieroglyphs
Hieroglyph or hieroglyphics may refer to:*Anatolian hieroglyphs*Chinese character*Cretan hieroglyphs*Cursive hieroglyphs*Dongba script*Egyptian hieroglyphs*Hieroglyphic Luwian*Mayan hieroglyphs...

, and later using an alphabetic script with 23 signs. Many pyramids were built in Meroë during this period and the kingdom consisted of an impressive standing military force. Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 also describes a clash with the Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 in which the Romans were defeated by Nubian archers
Archers
Archers may refer to:*People who practice archery*The Royal Company of Archers, a Scottish ceremonial unit*The Archers, long running BBC Radio 4 soap opera*"The Archers", nickname for British film-making partnership of Powell and Pressburger...

 under the leadership of a "one-eyed" (blind in one eye) queen. During this time, the different parts of the region divided into smaller groups with individual leaders, or generals, each commanding small armies of mercenaries. They fought for control of what is now Nubia and its surrounding territories, leaving the entire region weak and vulnerable to attack. Meroë would eventually meet defeat by a new rising kingdom to their south, Aksum, under King Ezana
Ezana of Axum
Ezana of Axum , was ruler of the Axumite Kingdom located in present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, he himself employed the style "king of Saba and Salhen, Himyar and Dhu-Raydan"...

.

The classification of the Meroitic language
Meroitic language
The Meroitic language was spoken in Meroë and the Sudan during the Meroitic period and went extinct about 400 CE. It was written in two forms of the Meroitic alphabet: Meroitic Cursive, which was written with a stylus and was used for general record-keeping; and Meroitic Hieroglyphic, which was...

 is uncertain, it was long assumed to have been of the Afro-Asiatic group, but is now considered to have likely been an Eastern Sudanic language.

At some point during the 4th century, the region was conquered by the Noba
Noba
Noba is a term found in a number of historical sources discussing ancient and Medieval Nubia. Its exact meaning is uncertain, with ancient sources themselves seeming confused about the region south of Egypt...

 people, from which the name Nubia may derive (another possibility is that it comes from Nub, the Egyptian word for gold
Gold (hieroglyph)
The ancient Egyptian Gold hieroglyph is a member of the crowns, dress, staves hieroglyphs. Its major importance is as one of the Fivefold Titulary names of the Egyptian pharaoh, the Horus of Gold name....

). From then on, the Romans referred to the area as the Nobatae.

Christian Nubia

Around AD 350
350
Year 350 was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Sergius and Nigrinianus...

 the area was invaded by the Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

n kingdom of Aksum and the kingdom collapsed. Eventually three smaller kingdoms replaced it: northernmost was Nobatia
Nobatia
Nobatia or Nobadia was an ancient African Christian kingdom in Lower Nubia and subsequently a region of the larger Nubian Kingdom of Makuria...

 between the first and second cataract of the Nile River, with its capital at Pachoras (modern day Faras); in the middle was Makuria
Makuria
The Kingdom of Makuria was a kingdom located in what is today Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt. It was one of a group of Nubian kingdoms that emerged during the decline of the Aksumite Empire, which it had been part of from approximately 4BC to AD 950...

, with its capital at Old Dongola
Old Dongola
Old Dongola is a deserted town in Sudan located on the east bank of the Nile opposite the Wadi Al-Malik. An important city in medieval Nubia, and the departure point for caravans west to Darfur and Kordofan, from the fourth to the fourteenth century Old Dongola was the capital of the Makurian state...

; and southernmost was Alodia
Alodia
Alodia or Alwa was the southernmost of the three kingdoms of Christian Nubia; the other two were Nobatia and Makuria to the north.Much about this kingdom is still unknown, despite its thousand year existence and considerable power and geographic size. Due to fewer excavations far less is known...

, with its capital at Soba (near Khartoum
Khartoum
Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran"...

). King Silky of Nobatia crushed the Blemmyes
Blemmyes
The Blemmyes were a nomadic Nubian tribe described in Roman histories of the later empire. From the late third century on, along with another tribe, the Nobadae, they repeatedly fought the Romans...

, and recorded his victory in a Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 inscription carved in the wall of the temple of Talmis (modern Kalabsha) around AD 500
500
Year 500 was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Patricius and Hypatius...

.

While bishop Athanasius
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 of Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 consecrated one Marcus as bishop of Philae
Philae
Philae is an island in the Nile River and the previous site of an Ancient Egyptian temple complex in southern Egypt...

 before his death in 373
373
Year 373 was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Augustus and Valens...

, showing that Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 had penetrated the region by the 4th century, John of Ephesus
John of Ephesus
John of Ephesus was a leader of the non-Chalcedonian Syriac-speaking Church in the sixth century, and one of the earliest and most important of historians who wrote in Syriac.-Life:...

 records that a Monophysite priest named Julian converted the king and his nobles of Nobatia around 545
545
Year 545 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 545 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Ireland :* The monastery of Clonmacnoise is built on...

. John of Ephesus also writes that the kingdom of Alodia was converted around 569
569
Year 569 was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 569 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Byzantine Empire :* The King of the Garamantes signs...

. However, John of Biclarum records that the kingdom of Makuria was converted to atholicism}} the same year, suggesting that John of Ephesus might be mistaken. Further doubt is cast on John's testimony by an entry in the chronicle of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria Eutychius, which states that in 719
719
Year 719 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 719 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Europe :* Charles Martel defeats king Radbod of the...

 the church of Nubia transferred its allegiance from the Greek
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 to the Coptic Church.

By the 7th century Makuria expanded becoming the dominant power in the region. It was strong enough to halt the southern expansion of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 after the Arabs had taken Egypt. After several failed invasions the new rulers agreed to a treaty with Dongola allowing for peaceful coexistence and trade. This treaty held for six hundred years. Over time the influx of Arab traders introduced Islam to Nubia and it gradually supplanted Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. While there are records of a bishop at Qasr Ibrim
Qasr Ibrim
Qasr Ibrim is an archaeological site in Lower Nubia. It was originally a major city perched on a cliff above the Nile, but the flooding of Lake Nasser after the construction of the Aswan High Dam transformed it into an island and flooded its outskirts. Qasr Ibrim is the only major archaeological...

 in 1372, his see had come to include that located at Faras. It is also clear that the "Royal" church at Dongola had been converted to a mosque around 1350.

The influx of Arabs and Nubians to Egypt and Sudan had contributed to the suppression of the Nubian identity following the collapse of the last Nubian kingdom around 1504. A major part of the modern Nubian population became totally Arabized and some claimed to be Arabs (Jaa'leen – the majority of Northern Sudanese – and some Donglawes in Sudan). A vast majority of the Nubian population is currently Muslim, and the Arabic language is their main medium of communication in addition to their indigenous old Nubian language. The unique characteristic of Nubian is shown in their culture (dress, dances, traditions, and music).

Islamic Nubia

In the 14th century the Dongolan government collapsed and the region became divided and dominated by Egypt. The next centuries would see several invasions of the region, as well as the establishment of a number of smaller kingdoms. Northern Nubia was brought under Egyptian control while the south came under the control of the Kingdom of Sennar in the 16th century. The entire region would come under Egyptian control during the rule of Mehemet Ali in the early 19th century, and later became a joint Anglo-Egyptian condominium
Condominium (international law)
In international law, a condominium is a political territory in or over which two or more sovereign powers formally agree to share equally dominium and exercise their rights jointly, without dividing it up into 'national' zones.Although a condominium has always been...

.

Contemporary issues

With the end of colonialism and the establishment of the Republic of Egypt (1953), and the secession of the Republic of Sudan from unity with Egypt
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan referred to the manner by which Sudan was administered between 1899 and 1956, when it was a condominium of Egypt and the United Kingdom.-Union with Egypt:...

 (1956), Nubia was divided between Egypt and Sudan.

In the 1970s, many Egyptian Nubians were forcibly resettled to make room for Lake Nasser
Lake Nasser
Lake Nasser is a vast reservoir in southern Egypt, and northern Sudan, and is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. Strictly, "Lake Nasser" refers only to the much larger portion of the lake that is in Egyptian territory , with the Sudanese preferring to call their smaller body of water...

 after the construction of the dams at Aswan
Aswan
Aswan , formerly spelled Assuan, is a city in the south of Egypt, the capital of the Aswan Governorate.It stands on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract and is a busy market and tourist centre...

. Nubian villages can now be found north of Aswan on the west bank of the Nile and on Elephantine Island, and many Nubians today live in large cities such as Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

.

See also

  • Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
    Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
    The twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt, known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt....

  • Nubiology
    Nubiology
    Nubiology is the designation given to the primarily archaeological science that specialises in the scientific study of Ancient Nubia and its antiquities. It is sometimes also applied to scientists who study other ancient lands and cultures south of Ancient Egypt. The term was coined by Kazimierz...

  • Nubian languages
    Nubian languages
    The Nubian language group, according to the most recent research by Bechhaus-Gerst comprises the following varieties:# Nobiin ....

  • Pyramids of Nubia
  • Nubian architecture
    Nubian architecture
    Nubian architecture is diverse and ancient. Permanent villages have been found in Nubia which date from 6000 BC. These villages were roughly contemporary with the walled town of Jericho in Palestine.-Early Period:...

  • Aida
    Aida
    Aida sometimes spelled Aïda, is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette...

  • Nubian Desert
    Nubian Desert
    The Nubian Desert is in the eastern region of the Sahara Desert, spanning approximately 400,000 km² of northeastern Sudan between the Nile and the Red Sea. The arid region, a largely sandstone plateau, has lots of wadis flowing towards the Nile. There is virtually no rainfall in the Nubian,...


External links

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