A-Group: 3800-3100 B.C.
- C-Group: 2300-1550 B.C.
- Kerma Culture: 2000-1559 B.C.
- Egyptian Domination: 1950-1100 B.C.
- Napatan Period 747-200 B.C.
- Meroitic Period 200 B.C.-A.D. 300
- X-Group (Ballana Period) A.D. 250-550
- Christian Period: A.D. 550-1400
(All dates are approximate)
NUBIA THROUGH THE AGES
The earliest of the Nubian cultures (the
A-Group and C-Group) were located in northern Nubia. Until recently it
was thought that A-Group people were semi-nomadic herdsmen. However, new
research suggests that a line of kings 1ived in Qustul in northern Nubia
as early as, or perhaps even earlier than, the first pharaohs of Egypt.
The people of these early cultures buried their dead in stone-lined pit
graves, accompanied by pottery and cosmetic articles. At this time, Nubia
was known to the Egyptians as "Ta Sety," the "Land of the
Bow," because of the fame of Nubian archers.
By 1550 B.C. kings at Kerma were ruling Nubia. They were buried in huge
round tombs, accompanied by hundreds of sacrificed retainers. People of
the Kerma culture were accomplished metal workers, and they also made
thin-walled pottery on a wheel. This was a time of increased contact between
Egypt and "Kush," as Nubia was then called.
Egypt dominated parts of Nubia from about 1950 to 1000 B.C. Forts, trading
posts and Egyptianstyle temples were built in Kush, and the Nubian elite
adopted the worship of Egyptian gods and even the Egyptian hieroglyphic
writing system. The gold, ebony and ivory of Nubia contributed to the
material wealth of Egypt, and many of the famed treasures of the Egyptian
kings were made of products from Nubia.
By 800 B.C., Egypt had fragmented into rival states. In 747 B.C., the
city of Thebes in southern Egypt was threatened by northerners, and the
Egyptians called upon the Nubian king for protection. The Kushite king,
Piye, marched north from his capital at Napata, rescued Thebes and reunified
Egypt. For the next 100 years, Kushite kings ruled both Nubia and Egypt.
This era was brought to a close by the invasion of Assyrian armies in
663 B.C., and the Nubian king fled south to his capital at Napata.
By 200 B.C., the capital had shifted yet farther south to Meroe, where
the kings continued to be buried in pyramid tombs and to build temples
to Nubian and Egyptian gods in a hybrid Egyptian Roman-African style.
Roman historians record the skirmishes and treaties which marked the relation
ship of Roman Egypt and Nubia.
By A.D. 250 the culture of Nubia changed radically, perhaps due to the
immigration of new peoples into the Nile Valley. Pyramid tombs were replaced
by the great tumulus burials of the kings of Ballana. These kings were
laid to rest with sacrificed retainers, horses, camels, and donkeys. In
the 7th century, Nubia was converted to Christianity. The skill of Nubian
archers forestalled the conversion of Nubia to Islam until A.D. 1400.
In the 1960's, a dam was constructed at
Aswan, Egypt. It created a 300-mile-long lake which permanently flooded
ancient temples and tombs was well as hundreds of modern villages in Nubia.
While the dam was under construction, hundreds of archaeologists worked
in Egypt and Sudan to excavate as many ancient sites as possible. The
Oriental Institute worked in Nubia from 1960 68. Today, the 5000 Nubian
objects in the collection of The Oriental Institute Museum and thousands
of objects in other museums are our sole resource for recovering the rich
civilization of northern Nubia, for the sites themselves are lie beneath
the waters of Lake Nasser. In contrast, expeditions from many countries
are working in southern Nubia.
The modern inhabitants of southern Egypt and Sudan still refer to themselves
as Nubians. They speak the Nubian language as well as Arabic. Thousands
of Nubians from the north were forced to relocate from their endangered
homelands to be resettled in Egypt and Sudan.