A: Nubia was once the center of the ancient world. They manufactured an abundance of goods and traded with civilizations all around them.
Q: When did the Nubians live?
A: The Nubians lived for more than 2000 years. From around 2000 B.C. to 350 A.D., Nubia established itself as a powefull kingdom.
Q: Who are the Nubians?
A: The Nubian’s were also known as the Kushites and lived in the Kingdom of Kush. They became one of the most powerful civilizations in Africa.
Q: Where is Nubia located?
A: Nubia is located south of Egypt along the Nile River. It is present day Sudan.
Ramses was one of Egypt’s greatest pharoahs. Once he died, Egypt entered a strict decline and began to lose power. With Egypt out of the way, Nubia, its neighboring civilization to the south, began to gain power and expand. Through the Nubian kings, Nubia became a dominant civilization in Africa. History of Nubia
The Ancient Nubians believed highly in their culture to help establish their civilization. Like Ancient Egypt, their neighbor along the Nile River, the Nubian way of life was based strongly on their religion (an important part of a civilization’s culture). To represent their strong beliefs, art and architecture (other main aspects of culture) played a large part in expressing their views on religion. This made culture very important for the development of Ancient Nubia. The cultures of both Egypt and Nubia also influenced one another over periods of time.
Most of the carvings, paintings and pottery of Ancient Nubia was greatly influenced in the style of the Ancient Egyptians. Most often, artists found inspiration in the scenes of everyday life, as well as historical events and histories of their rulers. Many scenes of harvest gatherings, religious ceremonies, and decrees by the kings are found depicted on Nubian pottery and temple walls. The Nile River was referred to most often in paintings as well.
Vessels were made of ceramic clay during the earlier periods in Nubian history, and later, bronze, ivory and alabaster were used as well.
Both Egyptian and Nubian artists used grid systems to calculate the sizes and characteristics of their murals. The positions and actions of the figures portrayed had to be in line with the perimeter of the walls. This is the reason why the figures in murals seem to have a “straight” position to them.
Like the Ancient Egyptians, Nubians built pyramids to house deceased royalty. The construction of their pyramids, however, differed in shape and material. The idea of pyramid building was adapted by the Kushite Rulers Kashta and Piy in the 8 th Century B.C., and afterward, more than 200 pyramids have been discovered in Nubia.
During the Old and New Kingdoms, Pharaohs of Egypt left behind grand monuments and statues in Nubia, such as the statues of Abu Simbel built to honor Pharaoh Rameses II.
By: Amber Lamourt
ANCIENT NUBIAN CULTURE: ARTS & ARCHITECTURE (continued) Left: The monument of Abu Simbel at Nubia, built to honor Rameses II. Right: An early Nubian ceramic pot with a simple design of African wildlife. Their pottery would later advance to depict scenes of events and everyday life, like the Egyptians. By: Amber Lamourt
The Ancient Nubians shared many common religious ideals with that of their neighbors, the Egyptians. Both religions referred to many of the same gods and goddesses.
EGYPT’S RELIGIOUS INFLUENCE
The Nubians worshipped the “universal” gods of Egypt, the more common among the near regions to Egypt and even commonly known to the world today. These deities included Horus, Hathor, Anubis, Bastet, Geb and Nut, Isis, Osiris, Thoth, Set, and the most common of all, Ra (of the sun).
Many deities popularly known as Egyptian actually originated from Nubian religion, such as the war goddess Sekhmet. In the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, it is believed by many archaeologists and scholars that Upper Egypt was located in Nubia before it expanded to the north. The founder of the first united dynasty in Egypt, Pharaoh Narmer, was even believed to have been born in Tini, a town in Nubia. This is the reason for the similarities in Nubian and Egyptian culture.
The Nubians also believed in ba and ka, the spiritual parts of a being believed by the Egyptians to have travelled to the underworld when a person died. Ka represented physical qualities of a being, while ba represented the non-physical characteristics, such as personality. The Nubians represented ba by statues of winged figures.
The Nubians built many religious temples similarly constructed as that of the Egyptian pyramids, where high priests would pay tribute to their gods. Certain high gods, such as Apedemak, received temples dedicated only to them.
A RELIGIOUS TURNINGPOINT
At around 8 th Century A.D., powerful Christian kingdoms conquered Nubia, and eventually the civilization’s religion converted from a polytheistic one to the monotheistic religion of Christianity.
In the mid 14 th Century, the Nubian religion was once again converted, to the religion of Islam when the Juhayna Arabs conquered the Christian kingdom in Nubia. Nubians also adopted the Arab language.
Above : A temple located in the city of Meroe, dedicated to the god Apedemak. Right: A Nubian statue representing the ba of a person’s spirit, believed to have lived on after the physical being died. By: Amber Lamourt
ANCIENT NUBIAN CULTURE: COMMON CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS
Ancient Nubian traditions were sacred to the culture. Today, these customs are still carried out among Nubian people, just as they were thousands of years ago.
NUBIAN MARRIAGE TRADITIONS
Nubian men and women often married during childhood, and like the Egyptians, they intermarried with family members (usually cousins).
Nubian wedding ceremonies consisted of many rituals, so much that the ceremonies would last up to 40 days. It was traditional that the man would present gifts to his wife and her family members during the ceremony. The Nubians would celebrate by adorning themselves in heavy beaded jewelry and colorful silk robes.
THE CUSTOMS OF THE PEOPLE
The trait of honesty was, and still is, sacred to the people of Nubia. Such a factor ties into performing only good deeds as a way of having reverential regard toward the gods (which was mandatory for all Nubians).
Nubian social status depended on how much land and cattle a man owned. Those of noble blood, as well, had high social status. Royals were the highest of classes, and during the Old Kingdom of Egypt when Pharaohs had control over Nubia, kings were considered demi-gods.
Nubian commoners wore simple garments, often colorful and wrapped around the body several times. Royals wore kilts and lion skin during the Old Kingdom. Nubian women wore multiple pieces of jewelry, usually two necklaces at once and large dangling earrings. All social classes wore gold, because of its abundance.
By: Amber Lamourt
ANCIENT NUBIAN CULTURE: THE INFLUENCE OF EGYPT
When the Old Kingdom’s pharaohs first ruled over Nubia, the traditional factors of Nubian culture would later spread when the Pharaoh Narmer brought over his knowledge of Nubian culture into the newly-united Egypt. Egypt later conquered Nubia once again during the late New Kingdom, and their cultures diffused.
Both regions had similar artistic visions. Their paintings told stories of the work along the Nile, of banquets and celebrations of their royals, and of everyday life for commoners. Their architecture suggests they had similar skills in building, and used much of the same material such as mud-bricks.
NUBIAN AFFECTS ON EGYPT
Visual evidence can suggest that Egypt was greatly inspired at one point by their Nubian neighbors. Egyptian murals depict the life of the Nubians as seen through their eyes, giving a clearer picture to how similar their working skills, attire, and religions were.
The picture on the left is a depiction of a Nubian festival. The picture on the right is a mural of an Egyptian banquet. The murals bear similar artistic styles and the events portray similar aspects of the culture, such as providing tribute to the royals. By: Amber Lamourt
Nubia was not only a advanced civilization that can rival their neighbor, Egypt in many aspects, it was also a civilization where women were treasured, and held on a higher status then the women of other civilization of the same time period. One example to show they were sacred, was how women were thought to have mothered legendary gods.
After the death of Ramses, the Ancie n t Egyptians’ powers began to decrease, the military power of Nubia increased. Eventually, the Nubians took over Egypt, and became the 25 th dynasty. The armies were headed by kings, as well as queens. They began a conquest to rebuild the lost glory of t h e Egyptians. The Nubians occupied Egypt for about 100 years from 760 to 664 B.C until they were force to retreat back to Meroe by the Assyrians.
In the 8 th century, under the command of Kushite king Piye, the Nubians managed to conquer whole Egypt, therefore becoming its 25 th dynasty.
Piye (Piankhi), after capturing the cities of Memphis and Herakleopolis, the Egyptian king at that time, Tefnakht fled to an island after 5 months of battling.
The Nubian army evolved after their new gain. They now had the advantage of Nubian archers.
After almost 100 years of ruling Egypt, the Nubians were forced to retreat back to Meroe.
The Nubians last fight over Egypt with the Assyrians was headed by probably the most prominent king, Taharqa. He was the son of Piye, and reigned for about 26 years. In his 17 th year of ruling Egypt, the Assyrians attacked, but were defeated by Taharqa. About 3 years later, the Assyrian king captured the city of Memphis, and along with it, many royal family members. Taharqa then fled back to Nubia, and experienced a golden age there, after he died.
The Nubian Empire was ruled by complete monarchy. The king’s home was located in southern Nubia, therefore ruling directly there.
Kings of ancient Nubia had 3 jobs: the political leader, the spiritual head and the military warlord.
Both upper and lower Nubia had a governor who helped the king organize the empire. Each government would report to the federal official called the “peker”. The peker would pass on information to the king and the queen from the governors.
Even though there were kings, there were also jobs such as the Minister of Treasury, these lower ranking officials also had powers, they acted like a “check and balance” system. These check and balance systems were often in vain, because the kings would always figure a way out to surpass the “congress” in power.
It was also forbidden to have a king not related to his predecessor.
The Golden Age of the Meroitic kingdom was the center of attention for the ancient world. It was a flourishing time for the Nubians. They traded with Asia, and was already in the iron age. They traded with many countries and eventually led to the conquering of Lake Chad. (700-300 B.C)
After being forced out of Egypt, the Nubians became excellent iron miners. They also began to enhance their trading, resulting in international trades with civilizations such as ancient China, and ancient India.
They also gained more knowledge in literature, such as the alphabet. They first used the Egyptian hieroglyphics and eventually used that to make their own alphabet of 23 letters.
Even though they practiced Egyptian customs, and culture, they also developed their own religion.
Nubians were excellent craftsmen, meaning they were excellent at making jewelry and were great blacksmiths.
Their exports consisted of cotton, jewelry and pure gold.
The most important achievement during this period was probably the gain of Lake Chad and its surrounding land. Lake Chad provides water to about 20,000 people. It was also very rich in silt, meaning the land around was very fertile, and was abundant in crops.
As a result of Egyptian Influence, Nubians also built many pyramids. These pyramids were different, shape and size wise. They were smaller, and the top was mostly flat.