Nubian Kingdom

The Neolithic Era ran from approximately 3800 B.C. to 3100 B.C. During this time Nubia was divided into two kingdoms, one in upper Nubia called the Khartum Neolithic, and the second in Lower Nubia called the A-Group culture (Nubia: section III). The A-group's kingdom or territory spread from an area in Upper Egypt called Gebel el-Silsila to south of the Second Cataract on the Nile river (Nubia: section III). The people of this era arrived in Lower Nubia early in the fourth millennium (3800 B.C.) The native name of the kingdom is thought to be Ta-Seti meaning "Land of the Bow" (Williams 2). In the early years of the civilization, the Nubians of Ta-Seti ruled over the southern portion of Upper Egypt. Under the rule of Hierakonpolis, the civilizations of Upper Egypt consolidated into one kingdom and began to push the Egyptian-Nubian border southward into A-Group Lower Nubia (Nubia: section III). The Nubian civilization became weaker and weaker until the repeated Egyptian attacks during the Archaic period reduced the A-Group to an impoverished, undeveloped, and crude society. Archaeologists who found artifacts of the post-war era were under the impression that this was an entirely different civilization and had labeled it the B-Group culture (Nubia: section III). It was not until further research had been done that archaeologists discovered that their B-Group was really a poverty stricken post-war A-Group. Much of each civilization is determined by its burial sites. Archeologists created a B-Group because of the simplicity, but obvious similarities to the A-Group. Tombs were circular, but there were fewer personal belongingswith in the burial chamber, and tomb construction was not as elaborite (Emery 175). By 2900 B.C. the A-Group civilization had disappeared altogether. According to burial grounds, most of the A-Group people died, but those who remained probably moved south into Upper Nubia and the Pre-Kerma culture (Emery 173). A-Group burial system is identified by the body's placement in fetal position in a circular tomb either strait down on the first level or in a side chamber. Personal belognings such as pots, jars, and jewelry were usually buried in the chamber (Emery 171 

Upper Nubia's main city was Kerma, located on the Nile's eastern edge between the southern edge of the third cataract and the northern edge of Dongola Reach (Nubia: section III). The Neolithic era in Upper Nubia is split into two parts, first Pre-Kerma culture in the third millennium B.C., and second the Khartum Neolithic culture in the fifth millennium B.C
Pre-Kerma culture dated 3000-2400 B.C. Although many characteristics of the Pre-Kerma culture resemble that of the A-Group, there does not seem to be any Egyptian influence on their society. Upper Nubia does not show any evidence of communication with Egypt in the form of religious artifacts or imported goods. The civilization was fairly domestic, with circular structures and in ground pits lined with clay used as silos for grain storage.
The fifth century in Khartum Neolithic, formerly known as Khartum Mesolithic, was the first evidence of burials including the deceased personal possessions and objects. The burial style is the Qadan style with the deceased laying in fetal position on their side (Nubia: section III). This signified a class system among the peoples of Upper Nubia. It was common practice to bury servants and attendants alive with their deceased ruler. It was only during periods of Egyptian rule that these burial practices were ignored and mumification techniques were implimented (Nubia: section III). It was during the Neolithic era that Nubia as a whole developed into a trading culture. Parts of the kingdom served as a middle man between Egypt and other nations. Items traded included precious metals, stones, and wood such as: gold, ivory, ebony, "amazon stone", and animals like: leopards (and their skins), giraffes (whose tails were used as fly whisks), and ostriches (for their feathers and eggs). Other comodities included oils, perfumes, carnelian, gum, red and ocher (Esler 60).
 Land of Wawat
After the fall of Lower Nubia to the Egyptians in 2900 B.C., few inhabitants are known of for this region, having only one substantial town were copper was smelted for exportation. It was not until 2300 B.C. during the sixth Egyptian Dynasty that a new culture was formed (Williams 2). Cattle played an important role in the culture archeologists have titled the C-Group culture which are thought to be the Tjemeh (Libyans) (Nubia: section V). The people of C-Group were mainly nomadic until 2000 B.C. when they returned to the land of their ancestors, the A-Group (Bianchi 21). The cow is carved in stone on the cemetery walls and on the outside of pottery jars. Many of the clothes and furnishings were made of leather (Nubia: section V). They settled permanently along the Nile between Aswan (the First Cataract) and the Second Cataract, with a sister settlement at Kerma near the south end of the Third Cataract (Bianchi 21). As the Egyptian government began to crumble, the people of the C-Group entered from the north as herdsman and soldiers. Their high society positions and important roles during times of struggle founded the Egyptian Middle Kingdom in 2050 B.C. The biographies of the Egypt's Aswan governors show the southern peoples gathered into four principalities. Wawat, that later gave its name to all of Lower Nubia; the land between the First and Second Cataracts; Yam, which is thought to be the predecessor to Kush; and a portion of Lower Nubia that during a period of Egyptian disunity had its own pharaohs (Williams 2). After the Egyptian evacuation at the fall of the Middle Kingdom, C-Group was invaded by their sister city at Kerma. At the war's end, Kerma absorbed the C-Group territory as their own and the area was renamed as Kush. C-Group's cemeteries were tightly packed and built in circles with high stone walls. Next to the circles were stelae, and each held a unique array of items which included: incised pictures of cattle, pottery, and original Nubian art (Nubia: section V). In the early years of the culture, the deceased were placed in fetal position in the hole at the bottom of the tomb. After the Kerma takeover, the bodies were laid on beds in a vault, according to Kerma culture.
The Noubidian Kingdom
The Meroitic province of new Kush collapsed by 300 B.C., and the kingdom of Noubades was changed to the Nubians with their capitol near the present day Sudan border. Their tombs were built as great mounds and were filled with outstanding wealth. Jewels, crowns, and weapons like the long African spear-sword Williams 4). The Noubidians, like the previous cultures of the area, used Egyptian symbols and worshipped their gods. At the introduction of Christianity, the Nubians joined the Blemmyes in a series of attacks against Upper Egypt in an attempt to save their "old religion" (Williams 4).
 Early Kush
Pre-Kerma had evolved into a developed, powerful and independent kingdom which the Egyptians called Kush (Nubia: section VI). Their culture was like that of their A-Group ancestors. Their great wealth came from their trade expertise in animal skins and ivory elephant tusks and ebony (Bianchi 22). The civilization stretched as far south as the Letti Basin and controlled the Nile River Valley just past the Fourth Cataract. There were several settlements of reasonable to large size that occupied the Valley between the Basin and the Fourth Cataract. Control of Upper Nubia was a constant battle between the Egyptians and the Kushites. During time of prosperity, the Egyptian state would tighten its hold on the Upper Nubian economy, leaving Kush with no expansion room (Nubia: section VI). Inner turmoil often caused Egyptian hold loosen or disappear completely from Nubia letting the Kushites expand and tighten their hold on the area. After several tries to subjugate the Kushites, Egypt succeeded in their conquest and was able to absorb both Upper and Lower Nubia into the New Kingdom(Nubia: section VI). Egyptian occupation is evident in the art and pottery styles of the era, and also in the millitary weapon styles at the garrisons (Esler 61). For the next five hundred years the Kingdom of Kush seemed to cease to exist.
Kerma culture lasted for over 830 years, and had a fully developed society with a bureaucratic state led by royalty. The Kerma culture is usually divided into three stages. First is Early Kerma which lasted from 2400-2000 B.C. Second is Middle Kerma which was from 2000-1668 B.C., and last was Classic Kerma lasting from 1668-1570 B.C. and ended with the Egyptian take over. (Nubia: section VI)
For over four hundred years after the fall of Kush the area occupied by Nubia was virtually desolate. In 750 B.C. the city of New Kush was established near Napata on the Fourth Cataract (Williams 3). Their nation grew rapidly and even led Egypt into their last age of achievement. The nation extended south to the city of Meroe which became their capitol city and as far north as Therpes, the cult center of Amun the Kushites favorite god. Late in the sixth century Kush was expelled from Egypt and formed a thousand year nation with Sudan and Nubia .
The great kingdom of Kush
The great kingdom of Kush (or Cush) was located in south Nubia. The ancient Greeks called it Ethiopia. In the 8th century BC, Kush -- led by King Piankhi (or Piye) and later his brother and successor King Shabaka -- conquered Egypt. These Kushite kings founded Egypt's 25th ruling dynasty. After Shabaka died, Piankhi's son Shebitku became pharaoh; he was succeeded by his brother Taharqa.
But the Nubian Dynasty's reign in Egypt proved to be short-lived. In the middle of the 7th century BC, Taharqa was driven out of Egypt by the Assyrians. He and his cousin Tanutamon, who succeeded Taharqa as king of Kush, tried but failed to regain the Egyptian throne.
Around 592 BC, Egypt sacked Kush's capital, Napata. After that, the city of Meroe became the capital of Kush. The kingdom lasted for some 900 years more.
One notable Kushite ruler was the fierce one-eyed warrior queen Amanirenas, who battled an occupying Roman army in the first century AD. Her ambassadors were conducted into the presence of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, and according to the Roman writer Strabo, they "obtained all that they desired, and Caesar even remitted the tribute which he had imposed." Queen Amanirenas had won; the Romans withdrew from most of Nubia.
It seems Kush gradually went into decline, and crumbled completely after the armies of Aksum (an kingdom of ancient Ethiopia) conquered Meroe around 350 AD. New kingdoms arose in Nubia, and these kingdoms started converting to Christianity in the 6th century AD. Around 1400, Nubia began falling under the control of Arab rulers, and many Nubians converted to Islam. But much of Nubian culture has survived through the centuries, and the Nubian language is still spoken today in Egypt and Sudan.
Gebel Barkal
Gebel Barkal is the current name for the small mountain and its archaeological site situated about 400km north of Khartoum, the Sudan. The site lies at the approximate mid-point of the great bend in the Nile River, about 1.5km away on the north bank, beside the present town of Karima. Its 98m-high, flat-topped eminence once marked a primary river crossing on the important north-south overland trade route between central Africa and Egypt . About 1450 BCE, the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III extended his conquests to Gebel Barkal and established it as the southern border of his empire. The city he founded there was called Napata. The Egyptians remained only about 300 years. Later Napata became the seat of royal authority of an independent Nubian kingdom called Kush, and from about 720 to 660 BCE its kings conquered and ruled Egypt as the 25th Dynasty. Napata was the political capital of Upper Egypt (northward to Memphis) during the late-8th-century reign of Piyankhy (or Piye). After the Kushites were driven out of Egypt, Napata continued as an important royal residence and religious center until about 350 BCE, when the kingdom finally collapsed.
The extensive remains at Gebel Barkal (encompassing at least 13 temples and 3 palaces) were first observed and described by European explorers in the 1820s, but it was not until 1916 that the first major excavations were undertaken, by George A. Reisner and the joint Harvard University/ Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Expedition. Reisner cleared nine buildings at the site and assigned them each a 100-number, prefaced by the letter B (for Barkal). From the 1970s to the present, excavations have continued by a team from the University of Rome, under the direction of Sergio Donadoni, which was joined in the 1980s by another team from the Boston museum, under the direction of Timothy Kendall.


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