The A-Group and Pre-Kerma Periods: 3500-2500 B.C.

Nubia is acknowledge to cover an area along the Nile river valley from what is known as the first cataract in the North to the sixth cataract in the South. The earliest evidence of a distinct culture in the area was discovered to be dated around 6000 B.C. The only thing known about the Nubians during this time are from archeological remains, supplemented by ancient Egyptian sources. These people began as a politically fragmented population governed by local kings, who became increasingly prosperous on trade with Egypt. These early Nubians were known as "A-group" culture by archeologists. However by 2800 B.C. lower Nubia fell under the control of Egypt, because of the gold mines located in the area. Because of the increasing aggression from Egypt, a united Nubian Kingdom emerged with its capitol at the city of Kerma by 2500 B.C. It was during the late "Old Kingdom" period of Egypt history that a nomadic tribe that lived in Nubian territory was first recruited by the Egyptians as mercenaries into the Egyptian army and as a desert police force due to their military skills. But as Egyptian power weakened during the "First Intermediate" Period, people known as the "C-Group" culture (descendants of the A-Group) begin to resettle Lower Nubia. However by 1981 B.C. the Egyptians would again re-established control in the area by building a series of forts along the Nile. Despite the adversarial nature of their relationship at the bordering reaches of the two Kingdoms, the Kerma based Nubian Kingdom however remained strong and independent throughout this period establishing themselves as a major trade partner with the Egyptians. This relationship continued even into Egypt's "Second Intermediate" period (1640 B.C. to 1550 B.C.) when the Hyksos invaded and ruled Egypt. They would also take that opportunity to expand Nubian control back into Lower Nubia. However by 1550 B.C. as Egypt entered its "New Kingdom" period, the revitalized and aggressive Egyptian dynasties not only would seize Lower Nubia, but also conducted a series of military campaigns against Upper Nubia. By 1450 B.C. both Upper and Lower Nubia became a colony of Egypt. The city of Napata was established as a center of Egyptian control over Nubia 

 Lower Nubia
From about 3500 BC at least two important cultures emerged in Nubia that may suggest the existence of early states controlling major territories and trade routes. The first was centered in Lower Nubia, between the First and Second Cataracts, and the other was centered in Upper Nubia, between the Third and Fourth Cataracts. If there were others, we don't yet know. While these two seem to be related, they also differ in many respects, and yet there can be no doubt that they were in communication with one other, just as they were probably both in contact with Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt. Because of finds of central African products in contemporary Egyptian contexts, we can be sure that both of these early Nubian "kingdoms" had a hand in and benefitted from some sort of north-south Nile trade linking central Africa with Egypt.
The early Lower Nubian culture was discovered in 1907 by the famous Egyptologist George A. Reisner during his archaeological survey south of Aswan, which he undertook on behalf of the Egyptian Government just prior to the first raising of the Aswan Dam. The people of this early Nubian culture used no writing, and none of the earliest Egyptian inscriptions (which appeared about 3200 B.C.) preserve their original name. (The Egyptian texts call Nubia only by an Egyptian name: "Land of the Bow"). Reisner thus called these people, known only by their grave goods, the "A-Group," since theirs was the earliest culture he had found in Lower Nubia. The name has been used by archaeologists ever since
A-Group remains are quite distinct from those of contemporary Egypt, so there is good reason to suspect that the people differed from the Egyptians politically, linguistically and culturally, and perhaps ethnically. Their unmistakable objects have been found well distributed throughout Lower Nubia, from the Second Cataract north to Aswan, and a few of their objects have been found at Hierakonpolis, site of the earliest Egyptian capital in Upper Egypt. Although a few small and rather poor looking settlement sites were identified before the region was flooded forever by the Aswan High Dam, the A-Group people are known primarily from their much more prosperous looking cemeteries. Laid in pits beneath small mounds, the dead were arranged flexed, facing west. Obviously they had a strong belief in the afterlife, for the bodies were accompanied by elegant thin-walled painted pottery of their own manufacture, polished stone palettes for grinding eye cosmetics, mica mirrors, as well as a variety of luxury items imported from Egypt .These included food jars, linen for clothing, copper tools, and small ornaments. Since Lower Nubia, agriculturally, was a poor land, and since at that time it had no recognized natural resources (gold being discovered somewhat later), we must wonder how there came to be so much Egyptian material in these graves. Oddly, very few A-Group products have ever been found in Egypt. It seems most likely that these people purchased their Egyptian goods directly from Egyptian river traders by using as barter raw materials they had obtained from further south in the Sudan. On the other hand, they might also have received their Egyptian goods from Egyptian shippers as tolls in exchange for allowing the Egyptians safe passage to Upper Nubia.
In any case, about 3200 B.C. the A-Group people seem to have been middle-men in an ever increasing trade in exotic raw materials flowing between Egypt and the distant south . While Williams' theory was intriguing, it could never be proven or disproven absolutely because shortly after the clearing of the tombs all of Qustul had been flooded forever by the Aswan Dam and could not be reinvestigated. Given the large numbers of imported Egyptian goods in the tombs, one could also never be certain if the incense burners, too, were not simply Egyptian imports rather than Nubian products, as most would have assumed them to be. The fact that they were made of local stone seemed to confirm that they were Nubian, and many other objects and pottery vessels seemed to have a Sudanese origin. Williams' characterization of the tombs as belonging to a time "prior to any known Egyptian kingship" now has to be modified by the recent discovery at Abydos in Egypt of Egyptian royal artifacts that do indeed seem to reach back as far as the Qustul tombs (about 3400 BC).For unknown reasons, perhaps in dispute with the A-Group rulers over commodity prices or control of trade routes, or in rivalry for empire, the earliest Egyptian pharaohs, as recorded in their brief inscriptions, seem to have been determined to conquer the "Land of the Bow." At least five Egyptian military campaigns into Lower Nubia are recorded between 3100 and 2500 BC.
 A text of the Fourth Dynasty king Sneferu (ca. 2575-2555 B.C.), for example, reports that the Egyptians carried away from Nubia 200,000 head of cattle. These conquests ultimately had the effect of eradicating all traces of the A-Group - at least in the archaaeological record - suggesting either that a large Nubian population went to Egypt, or that it was assimilated, or that it was driven some distance away from the river into the desert grasslands. This allowed the Egyptians to move into the area tentatively and to establish small fortified settlements at strategic points. One of these settlements was located at Buhen, at the approach to the Second Cataract, which was ideally situated as a trading station where Egyptian shippers from Aswan could meet Nubian merchants from the deep south and barter their goods directly with them.
The people that lived in Lower Nubia are called the A-Group.
The people that lived in Lower Nubia--the region between the First and the Second Cataract of the Nile and the surrounding deserts--during predynastic times are called the A-Group. Their main activity along the Nile was agriculture, { Maria Gatto in " Hunting for the Elusive Nubian " } A-Group People but in the deserts they herded cattle. They also brought exotic goods from the Sudan and Nubia to Egypt, and this trading activity apparently made some of them very rich and powerful. Along the Nile their settlements and cemeteries are clustered in strategic areas, mostly in connection with transport routes through the desert. The chiefs at the top of their society were represented similarly to the early pharaohs of Egypt. At the royal cemetery at Qustul near Abu Simbel, one of the main centers of A-Group culture, the rulers are shown wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt. The elite graves there are long rectangular shafts cut into the bedrock with a side chamber sealed by a big stone slab. Surrounding the graves were cattle burials. A grave similar to this was found in the elite cemetery at Hierakonpolis (HK6, Tomb 2), and it's also surrounded by cattle burials.
A few sherds of the distinctive A-Group pottery have been recorded at Hierakonpolis, particularly in the extensive cemetery by the Enclosure of Khasekhemwy, where more than a century ago French archaeologist Henri de Morgan discovered graves containing the complete A-Group bowls now in the Brooklyn Museum. Nubian pottery has also been reported from the Main Deposit in the floodplain town of Nekhen and at the predynastic temple (HK29A).
One of this season's projects was to explore evidence for interaction between the Nubian A-Group and predynastic Egypt, especially at Hierakonpolis. The southernmost major town of predynastic Egypt, Hierakonpolis was probably an early capital city of Upper Egypt. It can be reached from Nubia following both valley and desert routes. To the west, many tracks go straight to the Khargha and Dakhlah oases, while to the east the Wadi Barramiya connects the Hierakonpolis area directly to the Red Sea coast and southward to the gold-rich regions of Atbai-Wadi Allaqi.
Our present work has been organized in two different parts. The first was devoted to the study of Nubian sherds from previous excavations in order to determine if they were A-Group and to which phase they belonged. The second included a survey of localities where Nubian sherds had been found or we supposed they might be. Each morning I walked over the site with my long-suffering companion and guardian, Gamal. Together we would search the pottery-covered surface for clues of Nubian presence. Our main goal was to find an A-Group cemetery (as we have for the later Nubian C-Group) or a campsite. Unfortunately, it seems that neither are present at Hierakonpolis. However, we weren't completely unsuccessful. A handful of sherds were recovered and study of the pottery revealed different phases of A-Group interaction spanning several centuries.
So they were here, and their artifacts can be still found in the predynastic settlements and cemeteries, if only in low percentages compared to the unbelievable amount of local pottery. But we found no evidence for a real A-Group site or long-term presence here. This result actually fits well with what we know from the other Upper Egyptian sites. Up to now, it is only at Armant, just south of Luxor on the west bank, that what may be A-Group campsites and maybe a cemetery (but this is doubtful) have been found.
A possible explanation for this is that A-Group society was so similar to that in predynastic Upper Egypt that there was a kind of equilibrium between them. These Nubian people were not living in the shade of the predynastic Egyptians, nor were they subservient to them in a colonial way. They had no need to leave their home in order to find food or employment in the big city. Given the growing desire for exotic goods like the obsidian from the temple, A-Group Nubians likely came to Egypt for transactions!
The Nubians possess the power of Trade
The Nubians possess the power of Trade, as well as two highly effective unique unit lines. The Archers will be good for both attack and defense, as they beat other archers, while their camel archer units will be ideal for a forward rush attack. Being a ranged cavalry units they are ideal for deep penetration and hit and run attacks. Of course in the later ages it would be a good idea to complement their unique units. Such as heavy infantry, or their camel archers to complement their archers against light infantry, and heavy cavalry against light cavalry to complement their camel archers. The Nubians should also watch out for light infantry and light cavalry strong civilizations . The Nubians should not rely on their archers for defense , instead be prepared ahead of time with heavy infantryThe resources needed for their unique units are food and timber for archers, wealth and timber for cavalry archers. So the Nubian player should try to go heavy on wood to produce resources to produce both types of troops in abundance. Of course people on food, and also quickly establish trade routes to collect wealth. A good optimizer will be able to use their market trade ability to surprise opponents with a extremely early rushing force of camel archers, or to help less efficient players to make up for resource shortfalls
Their power of trade also includes the ability to collect bonuses from rare resources without having a merchant to collect them. These rare resources can be a big advantage as some of their bonuses are powerful This means that the Nubian player should try hard to explore their territory thoroughly to be able to collect these bonuses. In particular certain rare resources will be particularly useful for the Nubians in producing their unique units: Citrus for food and timber, Cotton for timer and unit production speed, Amber for wealth and timber, Bison for food, Diamonds for wealth, Fish for food and wealth, Gems for wealth and borders, Marble for timber, Papyrus for timber, Rubber for timber and Barrack unit cost, Silver for wealth, Spice for food, Sugar for food and timber and food costs, Titanium for food and reduce attrition, Tobacco for wealth, Whale for food, Wool for timber. Of course all rare resources will be useful, but those particular ones will help them build a more effective army using their unique units. The other reason to highlight them is so that in expanding one's empire it would be wise to secure those in particular, so as to maximize the Nubian advantages.


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