Friday, 12 July 2013

Nubian Kingdom

Nubia The African Kingdoms of Nubia Despite the new wave of myths regarding Nubia and Kemet (Ancient Egypt) It is clear that Kemet and Nubia were neighbouring African Civilizations just as Aksum and Nubia. Difference doesn’t mean Nubia was a ‘black race’ and Kemet wasn’t. Both groups were ethnic groups of indigenous African origin. The ethnic differences were no more significant than Ethiopians verses Kenyans. Ancient Nubia, like modern Sudan, was a land of many different peoples who identified themselves primarily by ethnic group and probably spoke many different languages. We now refer to them all as "Nubians" but they were not all the same, nor were they unified. The oversimplified concept of race ("black" and "white") is challenged along the Nile Valley, for nowhere is there a clear transition from one to the other. In America some people use these terms passionately to identify their own cultural or ethnic allegiances within our own society. In the first half of the twentieth century, most European and American scholars identified the Egyptians as "white" and primarily "Near Eastern" in order to remove them from the African cultural sphere and to serve their ignorant and bigoted views that high civilization could only have been created by non-Africans. In the latter twentieth century, Afrocentric scholars indignantly challenged this model, asserting the "blackness" and "African-ness" of the Egyptians. In each case the aim of these scholars was to claim "ownership" of the Egyptians for their own "race" within the context of the modern, primarily American racial debate. In fact, the Egyptians are certainly Africans, but they are neither "white" in the European sense nor "black" in the Congo-African sense. It can be argued that they were like the modern Ethiopians or Somali people with straight to curly hair and narrow bone structure. So from a modern racial context they would sit in the African world just as Ethiopians, Sudanese, Fulani and Somalis do today. The Egyptians really possessed a wide range of skin color and many differing physical characteristics, as did the ancient Nubians. But as time progressed an Egypt mixed more with outsiders with the final influx of modern Arabs the racial texture of Egypt became more complex with a higher percentage of “white skinned Arabs.” (As seen in lower Egypt today (North Egypt). The land of Nubia was located in what is now Sudan and lower Egypt. Home to what is considered to be the earliest African culture, Nubia waves of Central African inhabitants managed to transform a land notorious for its high temperatures and infrequent rainfall into a series of kingdoms that influenced, occasionally conquered and inevitably outlasted their more famous Egyptian neighbours. Nubian achievements include the worlds first Archaeoastronomy devices, conceived approximately a millennium before Stonehenge. Below are excerpts from various historical and archeological sources that describe the progression of the Nubians from the initial organization of the settlers to the end of Christian domination around 1400AD. The reader is encouraged to follow the embedded links to find more information. A-Group A-Group is the designation for a distinct culture that arose between the First and Second Cataracts of the Nile in Nubia between the Egyptian 1st dynasty and the 3rd millennium BC. The A-Group settled on very poor land with scarce natural resources, yet they became the first Nubians to develop agriculture. This culture was one of the two important “kingdoms” in Lower Nubia. Artifacts from this culture were discovered in 1907 by Egyptologist George A. Reisner. A-Group royal tombs were found to be two centuries older than those of the Egyptians. It is believed that the Egyptians developed their grave site customs for honoring pharaohs from Central Africa. The A-Group had strong beliefs in the afterlife. A great deal of time was put into their cemeteries and funerals. C-Group The so-called C-Group appeared in Lower Nubia about 400 years later and persisted from about 2500 to 1500BC. They likely like their cultural origins in Upper Nubia, and many of the artifacts that they left are quite different from those of their A-Group predecessors in the area. The C-Groupers traded with the Egyptians, but the Egyptians themselves wanted to exert more control over their southern neighbours. During the Middle Kingdon, they built forts near the second cataract of the Nile. During Dynasty 13, Egypt lost control of Nubia, and Nubians occupied the Egyptian formts. And toward the end of Dynasty 17, the rulers of Nubia and Hyksos rulers were treating each other as equals. Kerma Culture The Kerma culture, called Kush or Kushite by the Egyptians, was the first Nubian state, situated between the fourth and fifth cataracts of the Nile River in what is now the Sudan, between 2500 and 1500 BC. Early Kerma society was agricultural in nature and had round hut dwellings with distinctive circular tombs; later Kerma developed into a foreign trade-based society with mud-brick architecture, dealing in ivory, diorate, and gold. Known as the “Land of the Yam†to the Egyptians, Kerma lay in a well-watered basin where Ethiopian nutrients deposited by the Nile supported the agricultural resources of the kingdom. They were rich in cattle for domestic use, sacrifice, and exported large numbers to Egypt. Prosperous and powerful, the kings of Kerma built a sprawling city with a white temple (deffufa) fortified by mud-brick walls and rectangular towers astride the ancient routes of trade from south to north and east to west. Their craftsmen produced exquisite black-topped pottery. The indigenous burials of their kings pre-date any Egyptian influence and were accompanied by ritual human and animal sacrifice. One Kerma royal turmulus records the slaughter of 4,00 cattle for the deceased. At one point, Kerma came very close to conquering Egypt, with Egypt suffering a “humiliating defeat” by the hands of the Kushites. According to [the] head of the joint British Museum and Egyptian archaeological team, the attack was so devastating that, had the Kerma forces chosen to stay and occupy Egypt, they might have eliminated it for good and brought the great nation to extinction. Egyptian Domination Egypt dominated parts of Nubia from about 1950 to 1000 BC. Forts, trading posts and Egyptian style 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. The one factor that chiefly characterized Egypt’s relationship with Nubia through most of their history was exploitation. Nubia’s most important resource for Egypt was precious metal, including gold and electrum. Nubia was also an important source of manpower and labor for the Egyptians. The Palermo Stone records that early in the 4th Dynasty, King Snefru led a military campaign into Nubia reputedly to crush a “revolt” there (the Egyptians considered all enemies, whether foreign or domestic, as “rebels” against the natural order). According to that text, he captured 200,000 head of cattle and 7,000 prisoners, all of whom were deported to Egypt as laborers on royal building projects. Napatan, Meroitic and Ballana Periods The Napatan Period (about 700 - 300 BC) is named after the town Napata, where an Amun temple was built and where the kings were buried in small pyramids (the cemeteries are located not far at Nuri and el Kurru). Napata was the religious centre of the country. In the visible record Napatan culture seems heavily influenced by the Egyptians. The kings were buried in small pyramids, with an Egyptian style funerary equipment (shabtis, sarcophagi with religious texts, canopic jars, funerary stelae). The Egyptian hieroglyphic script was used. The exact order of most kings of the Napatan period is still under discussion. There is a group of well attested rulers dating shortly after the the end of Napatan control of Egypt (for example: Senkamanisken and Aspelta). Some kings dating to about the 4th century BC are again well-known from long monumental inscriptions (Arikamaninote, Harsiotef). By 200 BC 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 AD 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. Christian Period Nubian Christianity developed in great isolation. Between 639 and 641, the Arabs conquered Egypt, and, from then on, Coptic Christians there were a diminishing minority in a country under Muslim rule. Despite this isolation, Nubian Christianity was to survive and, indeed, flourish for centuries. Culturally, its Christianity was greatly influenced by Byzantium. The Nubians used the liturgy of St. Mark, and decorated the walls of their churches with murals that showed their royals dressed in Byzantine style. In 1961, Polish archaeologists excavated what appeared to be a mound of sand, and, within it, found Faras Cathedral, its walls decorated with 169 magnificent paintings of dark-skinned Nubian kings, queens and bishops, and biblical figures and saints. The decline of Christianity in Nubia seems to have been mainly cased by a gradual process of Muslim immigration. As time went on, the Nubian population became increasingly dominated by Islam or Islamic Nubians. In 1315, the Muslim government of Egypt imposed a Nubian Muslim as the king of Makouria, and, in 1317, Dongola Cathedral officially became a mosque. However, the tiny Christian splinter kingdom of Dotawo survived in lower Nubia until the late 15th century

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