It was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa, the Kerma culture, which lasted from around 2500 BC until its conquest by the New Kingdom of Egypt under Pharaoh Thutmose I around 1500 BC, whose heirs ruled most of Nubia for the next 400 years.
What is the significance of Nubia in ancient Egypt?
In 1500 BC, Egypt conquered all of Nubia, forging a great empire that stretched all the way from the Euphrates in Syria to the 5th Cataract of the Nile. For over 500 years, Egypt’s wealth made the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom, like Tutankhamun, the most powerful rulers on the face of the earth.
Amenhotep I (1514–1493 bce) conquered Karmah, destroying the kingdom of Kush. Nubia was colonized, and the viceroy of Kush became its chief Egyptian imperial official. Thutmose I extended Egyptian control to Kanisa-Kurgis, upstream from the fourth cataract of the Nile.
Nubia and Egypt Egyptians did, however, conquer Nubian territory at various times. During the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040-1640 BCE), Egypt began expanding into Nubian territory in order to control trade routes, and to build a series of forts along the Nile.
Alara, the first known Nubian king and predecessor of Kashta was not a 25th dynasty king since he did not control any region of Egypt during his reign. While Piye is viewed as the founder of the 25th dynasty, some publications may include Kashta who already controlled some parts of Upper Egypt.
Lower Nubia was controlled by Egypt from 2000 to 1700 BC and Upper Nubia from 1700 to 1525 BC. From 2200 to 1700 BC, the Pan Grave culture appeared in Lower Nubia. Some of the people were likely the Medjay (mḏꜣ,) arriving from the desert east of the Nile river. One feature of Pan Grave culture was shallow grave burial.
King Piankhi is considered the first African Pharaoh to rule Egypt from 730 BC to 656 BC.
In the 8th century BCE, he noted, Kushite rulers were crowned as Kings of Egypt, ruling a combined Nubian and Egyptian kingdom as pharaohs of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty. Those Kushite kings are commonly referred to as the “Black Pharaohs” in both scholarly and popular publications.
Osiris was called ‘the black one’ in various funerary texts and is often depicted with black skin and in the guise of a mummified body. Black is also the colour associated with the alluvial silt deposited on the banks of the River Nile after the annual flood receded.
Kush was the most powerful state in the Nile valley around 1700 B.C.E. Conflict between Egypt and Kush followed, culminating in the conquest of Kush by Thutmose I (1504–1492 B.C.E.). In the west and south, Neolithic cultures remained as both areas were beyond the reach of the Egyptian rulers.
The land of Egypt is found within the regions of northern Africa. Nubia, on the other hand, is located along the Nile river which is a part of northern Sudan and southern Egypt. Nubia is said to be the Land of Gold. Because of this, the Egyptians attempted to conquer the land of Nubia.
The Egyptians influenced the Nubians more so than the Nubians influenced the Egyptians. For example, the Nubians worshipped Egyptian gods and goddesses along with their own Nubian deities. The Nubians also adapted Egyptian hieroglyphs to fit their own language and created an alphabet.
In 728 BC, the Nubians, a people the Egyptians had once partially conquered, attacked Egypt from the south and conquered the Egyptians. King Piye (pronounced “pie”) of Nubia began Dynasty XXV (25), the first of a family of Nubian rulers.
There the Nubian king Piye became the first of a succession of five “black pharaohs” who ruled Egypt for six decades with the blessing of the Egyptian priesthood.