Definitions

nec 780-c

Nubians

[noo-bee-uhn, nyoo-]

The Nubians (Arabic: نوبي, Nuubi) are an ethnic group originally from northern Sudan, now inhabiting East Africa and some parts of Northeast Africa, in southern Egypt.

The Nubian people in Sudan inhabit the region between Halfa in the north to north Aldaba in the south. The main Nubian groups from north to south are: Halfaweyen, Sikut (Sickkout), Mahas and Danagla. They speak different dialects of the Nubian language.

In ancient times Nubians were depicted by Egyptians as having very dark skin, often shown with hooped earrings and with braided or extended hair. Ancient Nubians were famous for their vast wealth, their trade between central Africa and the lower Nile valley civilizations, including Egypt, their skill and precision with the bow, their 23 letter alphabet, the use of deadly poison on the heads of their arrows, their great military, their advanced civilization, and their century-long rule over the united upper and lower Egyptian kingdoms.

Prominent Nubian figures

Nubia is the homeland of Africa's earliest black civilization with a history which can be traced from 2000 B.C. onward through Nubian monuments and artifacts, as well as written records from Egypt and Rome. In antiquity, Nubia was a land of great natural wealth, of gold mines, ebony, ivory and incense which was always prized by her neighbors.

Nubians are the people of northern Sudan and southern Egypt. With a history and traditions which can be traced to the dawn of civilization, the Nubian first settled along the banks of the Nile from Aswan. Along this great river they developed one of the oldest and greatest civilizations in Africa. Until they lost their last kingdom (Christian Nubia) only five centuries back the Nubians remained as the main rivals to the other great African civilization of Egypt.

The Nubian and Egyptians conquered each other many times in their history. Taharqa is the best known of all Nubian rulers. Taharqa, a son and third successor of King Piye, the Nubian king of Napata who conquered Egypt. Taharqa was crowned king in c.690 in Memphis. He ruled over both Nubia and Egypt and devoted himself to all kinds of peaceful works, like the restoration of ancient temples in both Egypt and Nubia and building new sanctuaries, like the one at Kawa. In February/March 673, an army sent by the Assyrian king Esarhaddon was defeated by the Egyptians, but this was the last of Egyptian successes. In April 671, the Assyrians were back, and this time, they captured Memphis (11 July). Taharqa had left the city, but his brother and son were taken prisoner.

In Lower Egypt, Esarhaddon appointed the native princes as governors. One of these was Necho I, a descendant of Tefnakht, who resided in Sais in the western Delta. Meanwhile, Taharqo fought back, reoccupied in Memphis in 669, and forced the princes into submission.

Alara c.780-c.760 Maatra Kashta c.760-c.747 Usermara Sneferra Piye c.747-c.716 Neferkara Shabaqo c.716-c.702 Djedkaura Shebitqo c.702-c.690 Nefertumkhura Taharqo c.690-664 Bakara Tanwetamani 664-after 656

This provoked a third Assyrian campaign, which was broken off because Esarhaddon died. He was succeeded by Aššurbanipal, who conducted the fourth campaign in 667/666, took Memphis, and sacked Thebes. Because the princes were obviously unreliable, the Assyrian king chose one of them who could be trusted: Necho. When, after Taharqo's death in 664, his successor Tanwetamani tried to reconquer Memphis (the subject of the Dream Stela), Necho beat him, and although he was killed in action, power remained in his family. It was his son Psammetichus I, who unified Egypt, and was clever enough to give the Assyrians the impression that he still served them once they had been forced to recall their garrisons when civil war broke out in Assyria (651-648). The sphinx of Taharqa was found at Kawa Sudan, and is now on display in the British Museum.

The influx of Arabs to Egypt and Sudan had contributed to the suppression of the Nubian identity following the collapse of the last Nubian kingdom in 1900. A major part of the modern Nubian population were totally arabized and some claimed to be arabs (Jaa'leen-the majority of Northern Sudanese- and some Donglawes in Sudan, Kenuz and Koreskos in Egypt). However all Nubians were converted to Islam, and Arabic language became their main media of communication in addition to their indigenous old Nubian language. The unique characteristic of Nubian is shown in their culture (dress, dances, traditions and music) as well as their indigenous language which is the common feature of all Nubians

References

  • Rouchdy, Aleya (1991). Nubians and the Nubian Language in Contemporary Egypt: A Case of Cultural and Linguistic Contact. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.
  • Valbelle, Dominique; Charles Bonnet (2007). The Nubian Pharaohs: Black Kings on the Nile. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.
  • Warnock Fernea, Elizabeth; Robert A. Fernea (1990). Nubian Ethnographies. Chicago: Waveland Press Inc..
  • Black Pharaohs - National Geographic Feb 2008

See also

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