The ancient Nubia

Nubia, where the Egyptians believed Amon (The Sun God) lived, was known in ancient times for his exceptional wealth. It is from here that iron metallurgy spread in North Africa, and from here it was transported to the court of the pharaohs the precious gifts known in Christian culture: the gold, the frankincense and the myrrh.

Nubia, which the Greeks called “the land of the sun-burned,” is located between the first and the sixth falls of the Nile. The smaller part of Nubia belongs to Egypt and the larger part to Sudan. The locals also call it the land of Kush, after the name of the dynasty that ruled Nubia. The Kingdom of Nubia flourished for five thousand years ago, surviving Romans, the Greeks, and Egypt.

Nubia is the home to the early kingdoms and civilizations of sub-Saharan Africa. Nowadays, the rich archaeological heritage of this area is still mostly unknown. In Africa’s most powerful country, archeological work has long been uncommon and poorly supported.

The first center of the “Kushita Empire” was Kerma, then moved to Napata due to Egyptian expansion, and finally to Meroe during the Assyrian advance. Meroe was then occupied by Ethiopians around 350 AD. The kingdom then adopted Christianity, joined the Ethiopian Christian Kingdom and resisted to the Muslim invasion for a long time.

In June 2003, UNESCO declared a sixty-kilometers area of the Napata region in northern Sudan, the center of the former Nubian Empire, a World Heritage Site.

The royal pyramids of Nubia were built in the area even after this type of necropolis had been stopped to build in Egypt for 800 years. Although these pyramids are smaller and neither as strong in material nor as perfect in structure as the Egyptians, in Nubia was built more than twice as much as in ancient Egypt was. Much of the pyramids at Napata have been destroyed or significantly damaged over time.

The Napata region is dominated by the Gebel Barkal, the mountain that the ancient people believed was the abode of Amon. On its west-facing side, the pyramids, while at its foot facing east, the ruins of churches and shrines preserve the memory of its former inhabitant and a former, strong civilization. The Kingdom of Kush at the southern border of ancient Egypt took on a historical role in the 8th century BC.

In 770 BC King Kasta occupied Lower Nubia and Upper Egypt from the valley of Gebel Barkal all the way to Thebes, where he took on the title of “King of Upper and Lower Egypt”. In reality, however, it was his son and successor, Pianhi (747-716), who occupied the entire Egyptian principalities of central and northern Egypt, making him the ruler, and a founder of the next Egyptian dynasty. He was the first who built a pyramid-shaped tomb in Nubia. At the same time, it inherited the system of symbols and traditions rooted in ancient Egypt until late antiquity. The last king buried in the Napata region died in the 4th century BC.

Then, between the 5th and 6th Nile Falls, Meroe became the most used burial area for kings, and so more and more pyramids were built. Although the area was probably a royal seat even before that, the state has been called the Meroe Empire since this period. When the kingdom fell apart around 350 AD, the sign the royal tomb, the pyramid, disappeared with it.