Historical Dictionary of Ancient Nubia (Historical Dictionaries of Ancient Civilizations and Historical Eras) [Illustrated] 9781538133385, 9781538133392, 1538133385

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Table of contents :
Editor’s Foreword
Reader’s Notes
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3
Appendix 4
Appendix 5
Appendix 6
Appendix 7
Appendix 8
Appendix 9
Appendix 10
Appendix 11
Appendix 12
About the Author
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Historical Dictionary of Ancient Nubia (Historical Dictionaries of Ancient Civilizations and Historical Eras) [Illustrated]
 9781538133385, 9781538133392, 1538133385

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The historical dictionaries present essential information on a broad range of subjects, including American and world history, art, business, cities, countries, cultures, customs, film, global conflicts, international relations, literature, music, philosophy, religion, sports, and theater. Written by experts, all contain highly informative introductory essays on the topic and detailed chronologies that, in some cases, cover vast historical time periods but still manage to heavily feature more recent events. Brief A–Z entries describe the main people, events, politics, social issues, institutions, and policies that make the topic unique, and entries are cross-referenced for ease of browsing. Extensive bibliographies are divided into several general subject areas, providing excellent access points for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more. Additionally, maps, photographs, and appendixes of supplemental information aid high school and college students doing term papers or introductory research projects. In short, the historical dictionaries are the perfect starting point for anyone looking to research in these fields.

HISTORICAL DICTIONARIES OF ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS AND HISTORICAL ERAS Jon Woronoff, Series Editor Pre-Colonial Africa, by Robert O. Collins, 2001. Medieval Russia, by Lawrence N. Langer, 2001. Napoleonic Era, by George F. Nafziger, 2001. Ancient and Medieval Nubia, by Richard A. Lobban Jr., 2003. The Vikings, by Katherine Holman, 2003. The Renaissance, by Charles G. Nauert, 2004. Ancient Israel, by Niels Peter Lemche, 2004. Early North America, by Cameron B. Wesson, 2005. The Enlightenment, by Harvey Chisick, 2005. Cultural Revolution, by Guo Jian, Yongyi Song, and Yuan Zhou, 2006. Ancient Southeast Asia, by John N. Miksic, 2007. Medieval India, by Iqtidar Alam Khan, 2008. Ancient Egypt, Second Edition, by Morris L. Bierbrier, 2008. India, by Kumkum Roy, 2009. The Etruscans, by Simon K. F. Stoddart, 2009. Modern China (1800–1949), by James Z. Gao, 2009. Mesopotamia, Second Edition, by Gwendolyn Leick, 2010. Byzantium, Second Edition, by John H. Rosser, 2012. Ottoman Empire, Second Edition, by Selcuk Aksin Somel, 2012. Mesoamerica, by Walter R. T. Witschey and Clifford T. Brown, 2012. Japan to 1945, by Kenneth Henshall, 2013. British Empire, by Kenneth J. Panton, 2015. Medieval China, Second Edition, by Victor Cunrui Xiong, 2017. Ancient South America, Second Edition, by Martin Giesso, 2018. Mongol World Empire, Second Edition, by Paul D. Buell and Francesca Fiaschetti, 2018. The Hittites, Second Edition, by Charles Burney, 2018. Medieval Christian Nubia, by Richard A. Lobban Jr., 2020. Ancient Nubia, by Richard A. Lobban Jr., 2021.

Historical Dictionary of Ancient Nubia

Richard A. Lobban Jr.

ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD Lanham • Boulder • New York • London

Published by Rowman & Littlefield A wholly owned subsidiary of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www.rowman.com Unit A, Whitacre Mews, 26-34 Stannary Street, London SE11 4AB Copyright © 2021 by Richard A. Lobban Jr. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Name: Lobban, Richard Andrew, Jr., 1943–, author. Title: Historical dictionary of ancient Nubia / Richard A. Lobban, Jr. Description: Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield, [2021] | Series: Historical dictionaries of ancient civilizations and historical eras | Includes bibliographical references. | Summary: “This book features easy access and cross-listing of multiple themes and topics related to the prehistory and ancient times in Nubia, Kerma, Kush, or Meroe until the end of the Meroitic and post-Meroitic times in the 4th and 5th centuries CE”— Provided by publisher. Identifiers: LCCN 2020041368 (print) | LCCN 2020041369 (ebook) | ISBN 9781538133385 (cloth) | ISBN 9781538133392 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Nubia—History—To 1500—Dictionaries. Classification: LCC DT159.6.N83 L633 2021 (print) | LCC DT159.6.N83 (ebook) | DDC 939/.78003—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020041368 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020041369 The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.

This book is dedicated to the reclamation, preservation, and understanding of the context of the peoples, cultures, languages, and histories of prehistoric and ancient Nubia. It tries to answer the following major questions: “What were the precursors?” “How did they function?” “What are the survivals and implications as illuminated in the present?” and “How and why should ancient Nubia be considered an important contributor to world culture?”


Editor’s Foreword






Reader’s Notes










Appendix 1: Main Language Groups Associated with Ancient Nubia


Appendix 2: Salvage of Ancient Nubian Temples in Egypt


Appendix 3: Salvage of Ancient Nubian Temples in Sudan


Appendix 4: Implications of the High Dam at Aswan


Appendix 5: Kings of Kurru and Dynasty XXV Contemporaries


Appendix 6: New Kingdom Viceroys of Nubia


Appendix 7: Kinship in Dynasty XXV


Appendix 8: Dynasty XXV


Appendix 9: Near Eastern Dynasties in the Ninth to Seventh Centuries BCE


Appendix 10: Kings of Napata (664–295 BCE)


Appendix 11: City of Meroё


Appendix 12: Schisms among Christian Faiths




About the Author

501 vii

Editor’s Foreword

The information in this book is an expansion of part of a previous book by the same author, Historical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval Nubia. That book was one of the first in this series, published in 2003. This book deals primarily with the prehistoric and ancient period up to Medieval Christian times (which are addressed in another new, expanded volume: Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia). The ancient period for Nubia covers the great African kingdom of Kerma and its relationship to the Old and Middle Kingdoms of Egypt. It also examines the complex five centuries of the Egyptian New Kingdom of Nubia, or Kush. After recovering national sovereignty, the Nubians of Dynasty XXV returned to conquer Egypt in the seventh century BCE. Even after being expelled by the Assyrians, Nubians continued self-rule at Napata. When the Greeks and Romans took over Egypt, Nubians maintained their contemporary rule in the Meroitic Empire. The Egyptian rule of Nubia was replaced by Nubian rule in Greco-Roman times that were concurrent with classical Meroë. These rivals on the Nile were sometimes peaceful and constructive and sometimes tense and quarrelsome. Readers of this series will already be familiar with Dr. Richard Lobban because of the titles cited above as well as other books. Two are not related to this period or region, Historical Dictionary of Cape Verde and Historical Dictionary of Guinea-Bissau, while Historical Dictionary of Sudan is geographically related to the books on Nubia. Dr. Lobban is professor emeritus of anthropology and African studies at Rhode Island College and teaches African studies at the Naval War College. He is also a cofounder and first president of the Sudan Studies Association. Jon Woronoff Series Editor



This book brackets, contextualizes, and extracts a segment of the very long history of Nubian Sudan. As described in the Reader’s Notes, versions of this book have been evolving since 1978 as information is collected and recorded. This book focuses on the ancient period of Nubian history from prehistoric times to the start of Medieval Christianity. So this book is focused on the millennia of early humans along the Nile in the prehistoric Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic eras and written periods of Egyptian pharaonic interactions and the Kerma, Napatan, Meroitic, and X-Group civilizations. These were, in turn, replaced by and articulated with the formation and content of the Christian epoch and the subsequent centuries of Islam in Sudan. The long and complex period of Medieval Christianity in Nubia is now covered by the new Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia, which is followed by the fourth edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Sudan, which covers the rise of Islam in Sudan to modern times. These three books make a three-volume, 1,500-page history of Sudan. The evolution of this book began with the slim Historical Dictionary of the Sudan by John Obert Voll in 1978, 42 years ago. It continued with the much expanded second edition by Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, Richard Lobban, and John Voll in 1992. The third edition was written by Robert Kramer, Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, and Richard Lobban in 2002, and the Historical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval Nubia arrived in 2003 and the A to Z of Ancient and Medieval Nubia in 2010, both by Richard Lobban. A fourth edition of Historical Dictionary of the Sudan written by Kramer, FluehrLobban, and Lobban (2013) includes the modern period of Omer Al-Beshir, just toppled in 2019. This book starts with the ancient prehistoric time and continues to the civilizations of Kerma, Napata, Meroë, and pre-Christian or X-Group horizons of the Ballana and Tangasi cultures to provide context for the start of Medieval Christian Nubia (now addressed in its own volume, which ends after a millennium with the last Christian kingdom of Alwa at Soba). To determine the start of Christianity in the Nile valley is difficult. The roots of monotheism can be traced to Pharaoh Akhenaton of the New Kingdom, and the start of monotheism can be traced to the Hyksos (strongly allied with Kerma Nubians) when they left Egypt and became the Jews of the Exodus. Once Judaism was formally established, the links to Christianity are naturally even closer. This could include the flight of Jesus and his Jewish family back to Egypt and the early martyrdom of many believers resisting xi



Roman rule. It could also include the first believer in Meroë, who is noted in Acts of the Apostles. With such a deep foundation of Christianity, it is hard to start with the establishment of Nubian state Christianity with King Silko. So this book ventures into the early part of this period. A much fuller treatment can now be found in the new Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia.


I’d like to express my appreciation to NCAM, the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, for the support of their directors, a dozen field inspectors, and the licenses that have allowed for field archaeology, especially for my brief work at Musawwarat es-Sufra and more than a decade at Abu Erteila. The first edition of this book contained written contributions from my former students Miriam Ayad, Frederick Collins, Kharyssa Rhodes, and Paul Saucier. They are gratefully acknowledged here. I also happily remember friends from Musawwarat es-Sufra, from my stay there and work on the outside museum; they include Steffen Wenig, Tim Karberg, and Deitrich Eigner. Over the years, my conversations and consultations with Pawel Wolf and Tim Kendall have been much appreciated. I will deeply miss the friendship and collegiality of William Yewdale Adams, American anthropologist and Nubianist who passed away on 22 August 2019. His death is a great loss to Nubian studies; he was a model we should all emulate. Great thanks also to the hosts and organizers of the various Nilo-Saharan, Sudan, Nubian, and Meroitic conferences I have attended in many nations, including Timothy Kendall, Alessandro Roccati, Isabella Caneva, Mathieu Honegger, Wlodzimierz Godlewski, and Osama Abdel Meguid at the Nubia Museum in Aswan. I am also appreciative of the tour companies (especially the Archaeological Institute of America and Ihab Zaki of Speikerman Tours) who asked me to be their group tour leader in Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somaliland, and Djbiouti and therefore have the chance to visit many sites I might not have otherwise seen. I am also grateful for the marvelous resource of REM, the Repertory of Meroitic Epigraphy, to check primary sources, as well as FHN by Tormond Eide, Tomas Hägg, Richard Holton Pierce, and László Török. While the format of this historical dictionary series is designed to give quick and summary access to this period of prehistoric and ancient Nubian history for “one-stop shopping,” the primary sources in the extensive bibliography are a great beginning place for further serious research in the field. Calendrical dates in Nubian studies are especially problematic, as they are approximate in the BP and much of the BCE period. I have relied on conventional sources and concentrated on keeping chronological sequences correct. None of the people I’ve thanked in these acknowledgments is responsible for any errors resulting from my editing and writing for this edition.




Some final thanks: reflective conversations about Nubian history with Eugenio Fantusati for collegial support for decades, Giovanni Vantini for pioneering in Medieval Christian studies in Sudan; Marcus Jaeger on Nubantood, and the late Gerrald Lauche for keeping me current in Nubian linguistics; Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, colleague, wife, and endless sounding board; Robert Kramer for his tireless work on Historical Dictionary of the Sudan; Kharyssa Rhodes and Paul Saucier, former students, researchers, and writers in the earlier edition; and Emily Aprea for help with typing. Special thanks to April Snider and Kellie Hagan at Rowman & Littlefield for, respectively, their professionalism and superb editing talents, which made this project flow so smoothly. All are very much appreciated. My wife, Carolyn FluehrLobban, is a busy and productive scholar of Sudan and Nubia in her own right, and our more than 50 years of marriage and collegial interaction has explored many depths in this study. My gratitude is truly beyond measure.

Reader’s Notes

Many foreign and ancient words have many forms and variations and lack conventions. Thus problems exist with spelling and alphabetizing conventions in recording non-Western languages that are often recorded phonetically in a still greater diversity of languages hearing various phones and phonemes. These approximations may replicate the sound heard by one listener but not by another. Official transliteration orthographic graphic guides for hieroglyphics or Arabic are one way out, but the precise correct form may appear awkward or not even intelligible. In addition, common forms exist that are not proper transliterations. Consequently, for this general reference book built on my primary observations of many of these sites and secondary sources, I have elected to use the simpler and more common forms as a guide when a choice was needed. Frequently, I have given alternative spellings and other names for the same place. This is a challenging issue, especially in the case of Meroitic terms that are largely untranslated, or even unknown except by Arabic words. Egyptian hieroglyphics, much needed in this book, are notably short on vowels (with parallel problems in Arabic), which makes rendering in English challenging. Meroitic demotic (“cursive”) suffers similarly with the long-standing practice of inserting euphonic that follows no particular logic or pattern. Frankly, in many cases in ancient Nubia, scholars have no idea what people called themselves or their places. Often the only clue is from foreigners (usually Egyptians) and later Greeks and Romans who all had their own inherent biases in Nubian nomenclature. Shifting toponyms for the same places over this long period of time are no less problematic. So, this work is much confounded by the mostly nonliterate ancient Nubian societies whose languages were unwritten, untranslated, or unknown—and were neither ancient Egyptian, Greek, Latin, Arabic, nor European—but probably Nilo-Saharan or Sudanic antecedents or dialects. When available, each entry provides some variant forms of the names. This may offend some linguists, epigraphers, and philologists, but my goal was to make this book more user friendly and intelligible to the broader audience for whom it is mainly intended. For later terms of Arabic origin, I have largely followed the standard transliteration guide for Arabic of the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, but many forms are in established usage that are not “correct” transliterations. An excellent example of this much debated problem is the variety of ways individuals spell or alphabetize their own names. Shall a xv



Sudanese person be informed that his or her name is spelled incorrectly? For example, shall it be ‘Abdel Wahhab Muhammad, ‘Abd al-Wahhab Mohamed, ‘Abdelwahhab Mohammed, or Abdelwahhab Mohamed? Additionally, how shall this be alphabetized—under ‘A, or al, W, or M?’ This book is guided by most common usage and spelling and by the individual’s spelling of his or her name when widely known. The embedded article al- or el- is not used for alphabetizing. Similarly, I have decided to use the term Sudan rather than the Sudan. Recalling that the term Nubia overlaps with Kush and that modern Sudan was called Ethiopia and Nubia or Turkish Nubia from the 19th century to the early part of the 20th adds confusion. In order to facilitate the rapid and efficient location of information and to make this book as useful a reference tool as possible, cross-references are provided in the dictionary section. Within individual entries, terms that have their own entries are in boldface type the first time they appear. Related terms that do not appear in the text are indicated by a see also reference. The term see refers to other entries that deal with the topic. The dictionary uses these common abbreviated forms: BCE: Before the Common Era (Before the Christian Era, BC) BP: Before the Present (very early times, plus 2,000 years) ca.: circa, about CE: Common Era (Christian Era, AD) r.: reigned, ruled


Main sites in ancient Nubia.




Orientation map of cataracts on the Nile.


Map A: Aswan area and First Cataract.




Map B: Lower Nubia, First to Second Cataract.


Map C: Third Cataract area.




Map D: The Nile at the Fourth Cataract.


Map E: The Nile at Meroë, Fifth and Sixth cataracts.





Map by Magini, 1596, Della geografia di Tolomeo, Libro Quarto, 96.



Map by Christophoro Weigelio, Aegyptus Antiqua, in suas partes et nomos divisa cum Troglodytices, Marmarica.



Map from Carte exacte du cours du Nil, 3:90.


From a 16-panel folding map of the Nile. London: Edward Stanford, 1884.


Chronology 1

PREHISTORIC TIMES: PALEOLITHIC, MESOLITHIC, NEOLITHIC ca. 3,000,000–ca. 1,500,000 BPAll of human species first evolve in Africa in varied Australopithecine or Homo africanus species. Examples are found in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Chad so it is most likely that the earliest humans were in Sudan; fossil remains are yet to be found in Sudan. ca. 2,000,000–ca. 300,000 BP Lower Paleolithic. Khor Abu Anga stone tools. 750,000 BP Homo erectus established in Africa and Asia in the later Pleistocene. ca. 300,000–ca. 150,000 BP Evolution to Homo erectus distribution. ca. 150,000–50,000 BP Homo erectus replaced by Homo sapiens neanderthalensis that coexist with rise and diversification of Homo sapiens in Africa, then decline. ca. 50,000–10,000 BP Upper Paleolithic. Dominance and dispersal of Homo sapiens sapiens. ca. 10,000–4000 BP Khartoum Mesolithic. Microlithic tools and the start of pottery. ca. 9000 BP Singa skull of the Blue Nile. Homo sapiens sapiens. 4000–3500 BCE Sudan Neolithic. Last Ice Age and the start of Saharan desiccation. 3500–3100 BCE A-Group in Lower Nubia. Archaic period in Egypt, dynasties 1 and 2.

HISTORIC AND DYNASTIC TIMES 3100 BCE Decline of the Chalcolithic period with tools made of copper and stone. 3050 BCE Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt by King Narmer (Aha, Menes). xxix



3000 BCE Memphite Egypt raids Nubia for slaves, livestock, ivory, and gold. Dynasties–VI in the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Pyramid construction and origin of hieroglyphic writing begins in Egypt. Egypt sees threats by Kerma and makes large fortresses from the First to Second Cataracts along the Nile and establishes nome districts. Religion consolidated into zoomorphic and anthropomorphic deities.

RISE OF KERMA ca. 6000–3200 BCE Prehistoric roots of Kerma. ca. 3100–2600 BCE Pre-Kerma settlement. ca. 2500–2000 BCE Rise of Kerma during the weak Egyptian First Intermediate Period. 2000–1759 BCE Middle Kingdom dynasties XI and XII in Egypt. 1900–1570 BCE Expansion of Kerma Territory due to a weakened Egypt. 1759–1539 BCE Second Intermediate Period in Egyptian dynasties XIII–XVII. 1630–1522 BCE Hyksos take over Lower Egypt in dynasties XV–XVI. Hyksos ally with Kerma Nubians to block Egyptian expansion. Both fail.

NEW KINGDOM COLONIZES KUSHITE NUBIA 1570 BCE New Kingdom revival occupies Kush as Egyptian colony during dynasties XVIII–XX. 1279–1213 BCE Epoch of Ramses II with construction of Abu Simbel temples. 1074–664 BCE Third Intermediate Period. Egypt ruled by foreigners in dynasties XXI–XXV. 1069 BCE Nubian revolts against declining Egyptian rule of Kush.

RESURGENCE OF THE NUBIAN STATE AT KURRU 950 BCE Kushites resume attacks on Egypt.



850 BCE Royal Nubian burials started at Kurru pyramids. 800 BCE Nubians push northward to Thebes. 790 BCE Alara restores regional Nubian territory. 765 BCE Nubian conquest of Egypt advances.

NUBIAN DYNASTY XXV RULES EGYPT 760 BCE Nubian “Ethiopian” rule of Egypt established as Dynasty XXV. 760–747 BCE Reign of Kashta. 753 BCE Traditional founding date of the city of Rome. 747–716 BCE Reign of Piankhy. Piankhy completes conquest of Egypt. 716–701 BCE Reign of Shabaka. 701–690 BCE Reign of Shabataka. 690–664 BCE Reign of Taharka, buried at Nuri. 668–627 BCE: Reign of King Ashurbanipal of Assyria, rival to Taharka. 664–653 BCE Reign of Tanutamun. Tanutamun withdraws from Egypt, and Dynasty XXV is terminated.

NAPATAN CIVILIZATION 653–643 BCE Reign of Atlanersa from Napata. 643–623 BCE Reign of Senkamanisken. 623–593 BCE Reign of Anlamani. 593–568 BCE Reign of Aspelta. 591–590 BCE Invasion of Nubia by Psammetichos II (Psamtik), Dynasty XXVI. Gradual transfer of trade and power from Napata to Meroë.

PERSIAN, GRECO-ROMAN, AND MEROITIC TIMES 529–521 BCE Reign of Cambyses II, Persian king of Egypt. 510 BCE Founding of the Roman Republic that later conquers Egypt.



404–369 BCE Reign of Kushite king Harsiyotef, buried at Nuri. 356–323 BCE Life of Alexander III “the Great,” Macedonian conqueror of Persia. 335–315 BCE Reign of Nastasen, the last to rule from Napata. 332 BCE Alexander the Great conquers Egypt. 323 BCE Alexander dies of fever in Babylon, and his body is returned for burial in Memphis, Egypt, then to Alexandria where his final resting place has not be found. This starts the Ptolemaic era in Egypt, Hellenization of Egyptian culture, and the Egyptianization of Greek culture, as well as the construction of the great Library of Alexandria and a long and complex interaction with Nubia. 305–283 BCE Reign of King Ptolemy I Soter, first to rule after Alexander the Great. 270 BCE Meroë becomes the capital after strategic withdrawal from Napata, but relations with Ptolemaic Egypt are broadly commercial, scientific, and cordial. 260 BCE Ergamenes is the first king to be buried at Meroë. 240 BCE Meroë retakes Lower Nubia and threatens Ptolemaic Upper Egypt. 150 BCE: Kandake Shanadakheto has first dated Meroitic inscription. 149–146 BCE Third and last Punic war between Carthage and Rome that seeks to rule Egypt. 100–44 BCE Reign of Julius Caesar. 69–30 BCE Reign of Cleopatra VII, last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. 44 BCE Assassination of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March. 43 BCE Roman control of Britain begins. 30 BCE Cleopatra VII and Caesar Antony commit suicide. Caesar Augustus (Octavian) begins Roman rule of Egypt until 14 CE. Roman relations with Nubia are often tense and hostile. 24 BCE Meroites attack (Roman) Aswan. 23 BCE Roman Petronius counterattacks Meroites as far as Napata. 22 BCE Meroites counterattack as far as Qasr Ibrim. 21 BCE Meroites and Romans sign peace treaty at Samos.



0–20 CE Reign of Meroitic coregents Qore Natakamani and Kandake Amanitore.

X-GROUP INTERLUDE; PRELUDE TO NUBIAN CHRISTIANITY 33 CE Crucifixion and martyrdom of Christ. 37 CE First Nubian convert to Christianity returns to Meroë. 54–68 CE Reign of Roman emperor Nero. 66–73 CE First Jewish revolt against Romans. 98–117 CE Reign of Roman emperor Trajan. 115–117 CE Second Jewish revolt against Romans. 117–138 CE Reign of Roman emperor Hadrian. 132–135 CE Bar Kochba revolt of the Jews. 260–300 CE Major conversions to Coptic Christianity in Egypt take place; some arrive in Nubia. 284–305 CE Reign of Roman emperor Diocletian. Romans withdraw border back to Aswan. 297 CE Major repression of Jews and Christians by Emperor Diocletian. 312 CE Emperor Constantine ends repression of Christianity for the Roman Empire. 325 CE Council of Nicaea seeks to resolve the theological issue of the “oneness of God” dividing the trinitarian Roman and Egyptian Monophysite Coptic churches. ca. 340 CE Axumite king Ezana accepts Christianity and destroys his rival state at Meroë. 350–550 CE X-Group societies at Ballana and Tangasi configured as a syncretic blend of Pharaonic, Kushite, and Christian beliefs and practices. 381 CE Council of Constantinople. 391 CE Christianity becomes the official religion of the Egyptian state. 410 CE Romans withdraw from Britain to enter a long decline of the empire. 431 CE Council of Ephesus.



451 CE Council of Chalcedon adds to the schism between Monophysites and Roman Church. First mud brick church at Faras. 452 CE Early Christian missionaries arrive in Nubia. 525 CE Emperor Justinian I officially closes the Isis temple at Philae. The building is repurposed as a church.

EXPANSION OF NUBIAN CHRISTIANITY 2 537 CEKing Silko inscription at Kalabsha records his defeat of the Blemmyes. This is often taken as the official start of state Christianity in Nubia. 541–546 CE The “Bubonic Plague of Justinian” sweeps circum-Mediterranean. 543–569 CE Major Monophysite missionary drive by Julian in Nubia endorsed by Empress Theodora occurs, signaling the official formation of the first Monophysite churches in Nubia. 543 CE Faras established as the capital of the Christian kingdom of Nobatia. 560 CE Missionary Longinus is active at Soba, Christian kingdom of Alwa. 569 CE Dongola established as the capital of the Christian kingdom of Mukurra. 579–580 CE The kingdom of Alwa is converted to Monophysite Christianity. 697–707 CE Nobatia and Mukurra are merged for strategic defense of Christian Nubia. 758 CE Nubians refuse to pay baqt tribute to Abbasid Egypt. 819–822 CE Nubians again refuse to pay baqt tribute to Abbasid Egypt. 835 CE George I is crowned king of Dongola; he travels from Cairo to Baghdad in 836. 920 CE King Zakaria starts his reign in Dongola. 951 CE Nubians raid Upper Egypt. 956 CE Nubians raid Upper Egypt. 962 CE Nubians raid Upper Egypt. 969 CE King George II of Nubia attacks Ikhshid Egypt, who are replaced by Shi’ite Fatimids.



ca. 1050 CE As many as 50,000 Nubians serve in Fatimid army. 1140s CE Christian kingdom of Dotawo noted in Lower Nubia. 1163 CE Crusaders seek Nubian Christian alliances to attack Ayyubids. 1172 CE Nubian-Crusader alliance attacks Ayyubids in Cairo and Delta; Turanshah counterattacks Christian Nubia. 1173 CE Shams ad-Dawla captures Qasr Ibrim. He is the brother of Saladin al-Ayubi. Region is looted by Ibrahim al-Kurdi until 1175. 1272 CE King Dawud takes throne of Christian Nubia. 1275–1365 CE Frequent wars between Nubian Christians and Egyptian Mamlukes. 1276 CE Shekanda expedition against King Dawud. 1317 CE Defeat of the last Christian king of Nubia. Muslim king ‘Abdullah Barshambu placed on throne at Dongola. First mosque built in Nubia. 1346–1351 CE Black Plague in Egypt, Asia, and Europe kills 25–50 percent in the Old World. 1366 CE Daw occupied by refugee king after the fall of Dongola. Christian nephew of king returned to Qasr Ibrim. 1372 CE The bishop of Faras is still consecrated by Alexandrian patriarch.

DECLINE OF NUBIAN CHRISTIANITY AND THE RISE OF ISLAM IN NUBIA 632 CE The prophet Muhammad dies. 639 CE Muslim (Rashidun) invasion of Egypt. 641 CE Muslim armies reach the Dongola Plain but are forced back. 652 CE Baqt (peace treaty) established between Christian Nubia and Muslim Egypt. 661–750 CE Umayyad dynasty rules Egypt. 750–870 CE Abbasid dynasty rules Egypt. 950 CE Some Muslims reported at Soba. 969–1171 CE Fatimid dynasty rules Egypt. Construction of al-Azhar University in Cairo.



1171–1250 CE Ayyubid dynasty rules Egypt. 1172 CE Saladin forces Nubians under King George IV back to Upper Egypt. 1204 CE Nubian Christians and Crusaders meet in Constantinople. 1235 CE Last Alexandrian priest sent to Nubia. 1260–1277 CE Mameluke Sultan al-Zahir Baybars attacks Nubia. 1264 CE Nubians pay baqt tribute to the Mamelukes. 1268 CE Dongola king Dawud pays baqt tribute. 1276 CE Mamelukes sack Dongola; King Dawud is captured. 1289 CE Last Mameluke campaign against Dongola. 1504 CE Collapse of Christian Alwa and the beginning of Islamic Funj Sultanates. 3

NOTES 1. Early dates are approximate and vary by source and location. 2. See the Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia for fuller expansion. 3. See the fourth edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Sudan for fuller expansion of Islamic times.


Basic to this reference book on ancient Nubia or Kush are the historiographic parameters of elusive start and end dates with so many transitions and shared influences. When did human civilization start in Nubia? Unfortunately, this simple question is very difficult to answer because it all depends on how we define or identify the term civilization. As an anthropologist, I accept that this work can begin with the rise of the earliest forms of our genus Homo. The earliest known humans—or, broadly speaking, Australopithecine and early Homo species—are found in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Chad, so it is hard to imagine that they were not also found in adjacent Sudan, where the conditions for finding fossils were poor. This book, then, starts with vast prehistory and continues with the ancient historic times in Nubia of the A-Group and C-Group, Kerma, Kush, Napata, Meroë, and the X-Group transition to Nubian Christianity, ending with the rise of the three Christian kingdoms of Nubia that functioned from the sixth century to the early 16th century. This period of Medieval Christianity in Nubia is now covered in the new Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia. The period following the end of these Christian kingdoms and the beginning of Islamic times, as well as recent Islamic and Southern Sudanese affairs, are covered in the fourth edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Sudan. The meaning, importance, or significance of any land or people is determined not only by each group’s accomplishments but also by the comparative historical context. So the rise and fall of other empires and states that impacted on and interacted with ancient Nubia are also included to compare and contrast these events in contemporary and contiguous states. Hopefully, this book will tempt others into further comparative and interactive analysis.


A ABABDA. The Ababda are a seminomadic people with some sedentary sections in Upper Egypt and Egyptian Nubia and in contiguous northern Sudan. They are also linked to the Qireijab coastal fishermen of western Arabia. The Ababda, Bishareen, and Hadendowa are parts of the wider grouping of Beja who are widely considered as the modern descendants of the ancient PanGrave, Blemmyes, or Medjay peoples. In ancient times, the Ababda ancestors often served as mercenary forces (Matoi) or border patrols for the Egyptians and were sometimes rivals to the riverine Nubians. In Greco-Roman times, it is likely that their reference was as the Troglodytes. In Christian times, they sometimes served as traders and guards in the buffer zone between Islamic Egypt and Christian Nubia. In the earliest times, they may have spoken their own Cushitic language, but they have been multilingual for much of their history as they lived between powerful neighbors. Today they are Arabic speaking. Traditionally they were important as the guardians of the borderlands and caravan routes from Korosko to Abu Hamad and from the Nile valley to the Red Sea. They served from ancient times until their work as irregulars in the Anglo-Egyptian army in the 19th century. Relations with these seminomadic peoples and their regional ancestors have presented security issues to the settled people on the Nile from ancient to medieval Christian times to the modern rulers of Egyptian and Sudanese Nubia. ABKA, ABKAN. Abka is a Neolithic site in Lower Nubia that gives its name to an archaeological typology. It represents an early case of a Nubian pottery tradition that may be just prior to the A-Group. Abkan peoples may descend from the earlier Mesolithic Qadan tradition (12,000–9000 BCE) since they share similar stone tool technology in the same region. Abka is noted for abundant petroglyphs most often depicting cattle. Commonly, both Abkan and Qadan cultures had grinding stones for processing wild grains and flaked microlithic boring and grooving tools. While the Qadan peoples did not have a pottery tradition, the burnished or slightly rippled pottery of




the Abkan people is stylistically distinguished from the contemporary Khartoum Mesolithic with its famed wavy line patterns. The smooth finishes for Abkan pottery suggests that they were forerunners of the A-Group tradition. The site of Abka is also known for the numerous petroglyphs of the regional wild fauna, including what appear to be giraffes, ibexes, ostriches, and gazelles. The Scandinavian expedition to Sudanese Nubia closely studied these petroglyphs. Circumstantial evidence exists that links the makers of these petroglyphs to the Abkan pottery tradition. Typical of these times are also eggshell, bone, and oyster shell beads. ABU, ABO. See ELEPHANTINE ISLAND, YEB, IEBEW, ABO, ASWANARTI. ABU ERTEILA. When the first edition of this book was published, the Meroitic site of Abu Erteila was effectively unknown and unexcavated. It is located just southeast of the town of Kabushiya, north of Shendi, in the Western Butana desert. Its coordinates are N 16°52’7.36, E 38°42’23.70. It is now known as an important Meroitic and Christian site excavated by a joint team of Italians (led by Eugenio Fantusati), Russians (led by Eleonora Korymesheva), and American Richard Lobban. Earlier reports noticed three koms and surface debris of fired red bricks and pottery shards, but no excavation took place. Operating under a license from NCAM and after a probe with Ground Penetrating Radar and 12 years of excavations, Kom One has been shown to be multiple storage rooms, shards of utilitarian ware, and a kitchen area with seven cooking pots heated by charcoal and with associated butchered animal bones for large-scale meal production. Tentatively it could be termed a ritual royal palace or storage and kitchen area to support royal or priestly visits. Above the Meroitic strata are scores of (mostly male) Christian burials. The southern end of Kom Two along a long north-south axis wall comprises many storage rooms, some of which were made by recycling Meroitic blocks and elements into later Christian residences and intrusive burials, especially of women and infants. During the excavation, many architectonic temple elements were found, such as lintels, lion sculptures and lion water spouts from the roof, covetto cornices, corner toruses, ferrisilcate floor pavers, column bases, and drums, as well as stone door jambs and a few butterfly joints in walls. It was not until Kom Three was excavated in 2016 that the in situ biaxial temple had been found. It has a shrine room annex and a double-axis temple with three altar stones in the naos of both. The altars are inscribed with the names of well-known King Natakamani and Queen Amanitore as well as the sons Shorkaror and Kheperkara. The easterly paved ramp indicates that this served as a ritual solar temple. These royal members are very well known at



many Meroitic constructions and pyramids but not for this previously unknown site. Thus, this site dates to the very late last century BCE and the first century CE when the very first Christian was known in Meroë as reported in the biblical Acts of the Apostles. Many signs of burned wood timbers and mats and comprehensive destruction suggest that it was finally abandoned, presumably during the Christian Axumite invasion in the fourth century CE. In around the 12th and 13th centuries CE (by C-14), the upper strata of the site were used as a “Christian” cemetery as more than 75 burials with C-14 dates were found. Kom One has predominantly male burials, and Kom Two and Three had mostly women and children. These are considered as “Christian” by default because they were post-Meroitic and pre-Muslim judging by the dates, they had no burial goods, and there were varied burial orientations; however, very often their heads pointed west, they were buried on their backs, and a few had burial shroud fragments. In the area to the east of the main pylon is at least one processional temple that articulates with the main temples. The main deities worshipped at Abu Erteila were Amun, Isis, Osiris, Hapy, and Apdemek judging from the small lion statues and a roof water spout. Forms of Isis are inscribed on the altars found in situ in the naos. One altar replica is on display in the Sudan National Museum, and the others are destined for the new museum under construction at Bejrawiya. ABU HODA, ABAHUDA. The Abu Hoda chapel was formerly located directly opposite from Abu Simbel on the east bank of the Nile. It is a rockcut shrine first constructed at the end of Dynasty XVIII by Horemhab to honor the gods Thoth, Amun-Re, and Horus in four different Nubian forms. In subsequent Christian times, this New Kingdom chapel was reused as a church in which the south wall featured a scene of St. George and the Dragon (good Horus vs. evil Seth) and of Christ (resurrected Osiris). In the UNESCO-sponsored Nubian Salvage project, this was removed to (new) Abu Simbel directly across the river to be reerected there. ABU SIMBEL, IBU SIMPEL. This remarkable temple complex is easily the most spectacular of all antiquities in Lower Nubia. Despite its ancient grandeur and importance, this ancient monument had been virtually forgotten by the Western world until it was rediscovered in the early 19th century, during the 1813 travels of John L. Burckhardt, which generated his posthumous publication titled Travels in Nubia in 1819. Then in the preliminary excavations by G. B. Belzoni in 1817, interest was stirred again. The travels of the artist David Roberts in 1838 and the publication of his handsome lithographs in 1847 and 1848 only heightened public interest. The extensive



Altar, Abu Erteila.

penetration of wind-blown sand buried the original entrance and some inner rooms, which added to the excellent preservation of many of the original colors and features.



Unlike many Egyptian temples, the sand-blown closure of the entrance prevented Abu Simbel from being converted into a Christian church as common elsewhere in Lower Nubia. The inscriptions of the Great Temple provide a significant record of the claims of Ramses II for his disputed “victory” at the battle of Qadesh with the Hittites. From a Nubian perspective, this amazing center may not have been so celebrated since it represents a high point of New Kingdom Egyptian colonial domination of Kush. An interior wall image depicts Jebel Barkal. Nubian views may well have seen this as a major act of intimidating propaganda and warning that protest against this pharaoh and his deities would be futile. As remarkable as the ancient construction was, the prodigious modern task of dismantling these vast rock-cut temples into huge stone blocks was begun in January 1966. The engineering approach was to cut into the mountain itself to isolate the original structures carved in virgin Nubian sandstone. Then the newly fashioned pieces could be moved to higher ground and the mountain into which they were first carved could be wholly reconstructed. ABUSIR. Rocky outcroppings at Abusir in the vicinity of Wadi Halfa show numerous Middle Kingdom inscriptions from Dynasty XI and XII. New Kingdom occupation is suggested by the lonely “guard houses” just beyond the summit. The face of Abusir Rock is also covered with 19th-century graffiti, especially of British soldiers on their way to defeat the “Dervishes” of Sudan. Note that this Nubian site of Abusir is not that of the pyramids of Abusir of Dynasty V between Memphis and Giza, nor is it the Ptolemaic temple of Abusir on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. ABWAB. Abwab represents the southern border of Mukurra, or northern “doorways” or “gates” of the Christian Kingdom of Alwa or Alodia with its capital at Soba on the right bank of the Blue Nile. The name appears to be derived from the plural of the Arabic word bab for gate or door. After the fall of Alwa in 1504, the same territory was incorporated with the Funj Sultanates. Perhaps it related to the Nile between the Fifth and Sixth Cataracts— that is, in the vicinity of the strategic trading towns of Shendi or nearby Kabushiya. ACHEULIAN. See PALEOLITHIC. ACTIUM. This famed naval engagement in 31 BCE redefined the balance of ancient world forces with the defeat and subsequent deaths of Antony and Cleopatra VII by the navy of Octavian (later, Caesar Augustus). This preChristian battle terminated all Ptolemaic bids to hold power in Egypt or make strategic alliances with Rome. The polytheistic Roman era in Egypt had



begun, and its growing naval power defeated the ancient land power along the Nile. Moreover, the ancient center of world power based in Egypt decisively shifted to the northern Mediterranean and from Alexandria and Athens to Rome. Not until 1952 CE would Egyptians be in control of Egypt. However, the subsequent rivalry between Monophysite Coptic Christians in Egypt and the Roman Vatican or Constantinople can be traced directly to these times. Almost immediately the generally peaceful relations between Meroitic Nubians and the Ptolemies were replaced with military contestations with Romans in Egypt. Such was the new era of Meroitic forces attacking at Aswan and Roman forces counterattacking deep into Nubia at least to the Fourth Cataract. ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. From this chapter of the New Testament, specifically chapter 8, verses 26–40, we learn “And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah” and was guided by Phillip who told him of “the good news of Jesus” and was baptized when “they came upon water.” This intriguing biblical report has been studied carefully and is usually taken to be the first “official” instance of a Christian convert in Nubia. Certainly, this “Ethiopian” refers to Meroë and one of its queen candaces. The actual title of this anonymous “eunuch” “treasurer” has also been rendered as “chamberlain” “high ranking official,” or “diplomat” or “court official.” He must have been of some considerable importance for his freedom to travel and historical note. The best that can be calculated this event took place some time between 60 and 100 CE. Many religious currents were then extant along the Nile, from Meroitic theology to Judaism from Falashas in Axum, the Persian occupation of Egypt (which brought in Jewish mercenary soldiers to Aswan), or a residential quarter of Greek Alexandria that was devoted to Jews. It is also hard to believe that he was the solitary convert to Christianity since he was apparently welcomed at the royal court. Circumstantial evidence also suggests that he could read Greek and Meroitic. A legend found in the writing of Origen (ca. 250 CE) stated that this first Nubian convert to Christianity was also an evangelist for the new faith. In any event, this case could be the starting point of the very earliest presence of a Christian in Meroë, while contemporary Christians in Egypt were regularly suffering from Roman pogroms and martyrdom. ADDADA. See REHREH, ADADAS. ADDO. See JEBEL ADDA, ADO.



ADIKHALAMANI, AZAKHERRAMON, ADKERAMON. This Meroitic king ruled from the late third century BCE to the first decades of the second century (ca. 207–200 BCE–ca. 190–180 BCE). He is known from the Amun temple at Dabod with Ptolemy IV and from a stela at the Isis temple at Philae, to which Ptolemy VII added his name. Both of these sites are in the northernmost parts of Meroitic Lower Nubia, suggesting that he controlled an extensive territory. He likely ruled during the time of the Theban revolt, when he presented himself as the “Image of Re,” the “Lord of Two Lands,” and the “Beloved Son of Isis and Osiris.” Most likely, these images were selected to legitimate his aspirations to recover the Egyptian crown from the Ptolemies. His royal nomenclature may be compared to that of Arkamani II at Philae and Dakka or to Amasis (“the Usurper”) in Dynasty XXVI. Although the Dabod temple appears to have been started by Ptolemy IV, some considerable construction also took place by Adikhalamani, since he ruled Meroë and Lower Nubia during the Theban revolt, giving him access to Philae, which had earlier been under Ptolemaic control. The Amun temple at Dabod was restored to Ptolemaic control by the time of Ptolemy VI. Adikhalamani ruled following the reigns of Arnekhamani and Arkamani II, and it is likely that Adikhalamani or Tabirqo was buried in the Bejraawiya North pyramid 9, but it is not clear whether this is the same or a different person. ADINDAN. Adindan is located on the eastern bank of the Nile about midway between Abu Simbel and Wadi Halfa or almost on the Egypto-Sudanese border. Keith Steele and Bruce Williams of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago excavated cemeteries J, K, T, and U of Adindan, which contained funerary goods and skeletal remains of the C-Group, PanGrave, and Kerma cultural typologies. The largest number of graves is certainly for the C-Group, and this settlement must have been smaller than the C-Group population of Aniba. It appears that the C-Group moved back north into Lower Nubia when the Hyksos had broken the political unity of the Egyptian Nile and thereby liberated the Nubian populations from Middle Kingdom Egyptians. On the other hand, material traces of the C-Group disappear once the New Kingdom is well underway. Were C-Group peoples those depicted as New Kingdom captives? Perhaps the repetitive triangular shapes incised on C-Group pottery and painted on A-Group pottery suggest a thematic relationship, but