Monuments and texts in the Egyptian language left by the Nubian kings, who became pharaohs of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty around 750 BC, also provide an extensive record. Nubians developed alphabetic writing systems around 200 BC during the Meroitic period.
The first attested written documents date from the 8th century AD. During the 12th century AD the written form of Nubian was well established (cf. correspondence between the Nubian King and the Coptic Patriarch).
Old Nubian was written with a version of the Coptic alphabet, with a few letters from Meroitic. There are more than a hundred known texts in Old Nubian, many of which are religious. There are also some administrative, literary and legal texts in Old Nubian.
Why did the Nubians create a written Language? The need to keep trade records led to the Nubian written language.
For the next century, the region known as Nubia — home to civilizations older than the dynastic Egyptians, skirting the Nile River in what is today northern Sudan and southern Egypt — was paid relatively little attention.
King Piankhi is considered the first African Pharaoh to rule Egypt from 730 BC to 656 BC.
Based on onomastic evidence, the Medjay and the Blemmyes of northern Nubia are believed to have spoken Cushitic languages related to the modern Beja language.
From the second century BC there is a separate Meroitic writing system. Meroitic is an alphabetic script with 23 signs used in a hieroglyphic form (mainly on monumental art) and in a cursive form. The cursive version was widely used; so far some 1278 texts are known (Leclant 2000).
The classification of the Meroitic language is uncertain due to the scarcity of data and difficulty in interpreting it. Since the alphabet was deciphered in 1909, it has been proposed that Meroitic is related to the Nubian languages and similar languages of the Nilo-Saharan phylum.
The most powerful person in ancient Egypt was the pharaoh. As ‘Lord of the Two Lands’ the pharaoh was the ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt. He owned all of the land, made laws, collected taxes, and defended Egypt against foreigners. As ‘High Priest of Every Temple’, the pharaoh represented the gods on Earth.
In ancient times, Nubians practiced a mixture of traditional religion and Egyptian religion. Prior to the spread of Islam, many Nubians practiced Christianity. Beginning in the eighth century, Islam arrived in Nubia, though Christians and Muslims (primarily Arab merchants at this period) lived peacefully together.
The powerful Egyptian military conquered Kush during the period of time known as the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BCE). From its capital in Napata, Kushite civilization shared many cultural connections with Egypt during this time.
The pyramids in Sudan were built over a period of hundreds of years by a civilization known as the Nubians. The Nubians were initially conquered by the Egyptians and for centuries lived under Egyptian administration.