Nubia a brief history


A brief introduction to Nubian History to give a little background.  Nubian people today have settled from Aswan in Southern Egypt to Meroe. There are 6 main locations as you can see on the above map.

Nubians were renowned as being strong warriors and had many battles with Romans and Egyptian Pharaohs. They are a people who have withstood time and still live among us today.

Surprisingly, in very ancient times many of the rulers were women.  They were referred to as “Candaces” or “Kandakes.”

The Nubian were fine archers and renowned for their bow and arrow skills. This included the women rulers, and the women were found buried with their archery equipment and a stone rings which aided them in firing the bow.  The Nubians sometimes called their land “Ta-Seti” the land of the bow.


The first Nubians settled more than one million years ago in the regions of Sudan and Southern Egypt.  Approximately 4,500 years ago a larger settlement was found at Kerma just north of the third cataract of the River Nile.  The ancient Egyptians referred to this area as Kush.

Approximately, 3,500 years ago the Egyptians power grew and with it so did their envy of Kerma and the Nubians. They went to battle and eventually the Egyptians destroyed Kerma and administered the Nubians through surrounding towns.

3,000 years ago the Egyptian power declined and the Nubian Peoples regrouped and created a new kingdom called Napata located near the fourth cataract of the River Nile and the territory grew under the Kingship of Piye (reign ca 743–712 B.C.), it expanded north of the first cataract, conquering Egypt.  The Nubian Kings ruled in a similar way the Egyptian Pharaohs and were often referred to as the 25th Dynasty.  During this time the Nubian Kings adopted the pharaonic titles, writing and the construction of pyramids.

Statue of Horemakhet, son of Shabaka and High Priest of Amun 25th Dynasty.

The Nubian Pharaohs commissioned lengthy records including their titles and deeds.  In Sedeinga there have been found thirty-five pyramids.

The Nubian Kings had many battles with the Assyrians and eventually were driven out of Memphis, losing the last of their territories during the reign of Tanutamani (reign ca. 664–653 B.C.).

The Nubians had to endure a succession of foreign powers in the north of Egypt and they moved the Nubian Capital south to Moreo where they built numerous palaces, temples and pyramids.  They invented their own form of writing known as Meroitic.

Rome and Meroe in 20 BC drew up a peace treaty which changed their relationship into one of trade.  From Rome, Christianity made its way to Nubia.  When Meroe collapsed it was a series of Christian kingdoms, including the kingdom of Makuria took its place. These new Christian kingdoms built cathedrals and monasteries. A number of new languages including Coptic and a language which modern-day scholars call “Old Nubian” flourished in Nubia.

In more recent times, the Nubians have had problems with development and discrimination. The construction of the Aswan High Dam (completed in 1970) led to the flooding of areas of southern Egypt that were part of the Nubians’ ancient homeland. During construction of the dam, the Nubians were removed from their villages and they have been seeking compensation ever since. They have also been seeking the right to return to villages that have not been flooded.

In Sudan, a series of dams are being planned, if built, would flood another part of the Nubians’ ancient homeland, leading to more Nubians being displaced. In addition to these planned dams, the Merowe Dam is already in operation and has displaced more than 50,000 people.

The Nubians are a proud race of ancient people, who have withstood time and survived many challenges and changes in their lives.  They have endured wars and their lands removed from them by predatory rulers.  Today they are renowned for being peaceful, this flows through their villages and communities.

Now, when you enter the Nubian villages you walk through history and into a time of quietude.  Their lives are colourful, this is reflected in their creative arts. Nubian Music is loved by all of Egypt it flows through the Souqs and into the warm lives of Aswan.

Do visit us to learn about the Nubian Culture and Traditions from the Nubian Communities.

Author Nanette de Ville

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One thought on “Nubia a brief history

  1. Pingback: Nubia a brief history – Puzzles of the Soul

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