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The Three Niles And Cataract Settlements Of Ancient Sudan

The Three Niles And Cataract Settlements Of Ancient Sudan

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On January 1, 1956, after centuries of foreign rule, Sudan finally gained its independence from Great Britain, three years after independence was granted to Egypt on June 18, 1953, and today the borders between the two countries are clearly demarcated on modern maps. However, lines on paper and fenced borders patrolled by armies, do not always divide the people.  People naturally converge at water – a source of life – and the Nile Valley holds one of the oldest civilizations on earth, populated by the Nubian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the region, which is now split between northern Sudan and southern Egypt.

A map of Sudan (Muhammad Daffa Rambe / CC BY-SA 3.0)

A map of Sudan ( Muhammad Daffa Rambe  / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The Nubians differ from the Egyptians, but their histories overlap. Robert Bianchi in his 2004-book Daily Life Of The Nubians categorized ancient history in Nubia according to the following periods: A-Group culture (3700–2800 BC) which maintained trade with the Ancient Egyptians in commodities like incense, ebony and ivory. The C-Group culture (2300–1600 BC) arose when Egypt’s Old Kingdom – the Age of the Pyramids – was coming to an end. Speculation exists that the C-group were migrants from the drying Sahara. During Egypt’s Middle Kingdom much of the C-Group lands in Lower Nubia were conquered by Egypt, but regained by the Kerma culture.

The Kerma culture (2500–1500 BC) rivalled Egypt as a civilization and covered a region almost equivalent to that of Egypt, until the rise of the New Kingdom of Egypt (1550–1069 BC) 18th to 20th Dynasties which saw a territorial expansion into Nubia. From the Kerma culture rose the Kingdom of Kush in 1070 BC, following the fragmentation of power in Egypt. Although the Nabateans of Kush also venerated Egyptian gods, and often intermarried Egyptian royalty, they were distinctly different from the Egyptians regarding their material culture and their appearance. Soon the Kingdom of Kush became the rulers of Egypt, establishing the 25th Dynasty (1000 – 653 BC) of the “Black Pharaohs”.

Statues of various rulers of the late 25th Dynasty–early Napatan period. From left to right: Tantamani, Taharqa (rear), Senkamanisken, again Tantamani (rear), Aspelta, Anlamani, again Senkamanisken. Kerma Museum (Matthias Gehricke / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Statues of various rulers of the late 25th Dynasty–early Napatan period. From left to right: Tantamani, Taharqa (rear), Senkamanisken, again Tantamani (rear), Aspelta, Anlamani, again Senkamanisken. Kerma Museum ( Matthias Gehricke  / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Earlier, in the 15th century BC, Thutmose III had established Napata after his conquest of Kush. The Kings of Kush saw Napata, at the Fourth Cataract, as their spiritual homeland and made it their capital.

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Dr Micki Pistorius has an Honours Degree in Biblical Archaeology

Top Image : Sunset at temple ruins of Soleb, Sudan ( Thomas / Adobe Stock )

By: Micki Pistorius

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