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11th Dynasty model of Nubian archers in the Egyptian army, from a tomb in Asyut (2130–1991 BC). Source: Aidan McRae Thomson/CC BY-SA 2.0

Five Mysteries About Ancient Nubia (Video)

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Ancient Nubia, a region south of Egypt, boasts a rich history shrouded in mysteries that have often been overlooked.

The first mystery revolves around the relative obscurity of Nubian civilization compared to its Egyptian counterpart. Racism played a significant role, with Western archaeologists dismissing the advanced Black culture of Nubia due to biased misconceptions.

Another enigma surrounds what the ‘Nubians’ actually called themselves. The name Nubia emerged during the Roman period, and the original term used by the Nubians remains lost due to the extinction of the old Nubian language, Meroitic.

Debates persist on the extent of Egyptian colonization in Nubia. Recent genetic studies challenge previous beliefs, suggesting a more consensual coexistence between Egyptians and Nubians during the period of Egyptian control.

The influence exchange between Egypt and Nubia also raises questions. While Egypt's historical records date back earlier, evidence hints at a shared origin, challenging the notion of one civilization influencing the other.

The most tragic mystery centers around the artificial flooding caused by the construction of the Aswan High Dam, resulting in the loss of ancient Nubian history and relics. The dam, intended for hydroelectric power and flood regulation, submerged Nubian lands and archaeological sites. Efforts to salvage artifacts were only partially successful, leaving the extent of lost knowledge beneath Lake Nasser's waters a lingering question.

Top image: 11th Dynasty model of Nubian archers in the Egyptian army, from a tomb in Asyut (2130–1991 BC). Source: Aidan McRae Thomson/CC BY-SA 2.0

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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