Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia (Historical Dictionaries of Ancient Civilizations and Historical Eras) 9781538133408, 9781538133415, 1538133407

Medieval Christian Nubia is often a neglected period of medieval African history. Because meaning is determined largely

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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
About the Author
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Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia (Historical Dictionaries of Ancient Civilizations and Historical Eras)
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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 of 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. The Hittites, Second Edition, by Charles Burney, 2018. Ancient South America, Second Edition, by Martin Giesso, 2018. Mongol World Empire, Second Edition, by Paul D. Buell, 2018. Medieval Christian Nubia, by Richard A. Lobban Jr., 2018.

Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia

Richard A. Lobban Jr.

ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD Lanham • Boulder • New York • London

Published by Rowman & Littlefield An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www.rowman.com 6 Tinworth Street, London SE11 5AL, United Kingdom Copyright © 2020 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, 1943–, author. Title: Historical dictionary of medieval Christian Nubia / Richard A. Lobban Jr. Other titles: Historical dictionaries of ancient civilizations and historical eras. Description: Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2020. | Series: Historical dictionaries of ancient civilizations and historical eras | Includes bibliographical references. | Summary: “Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has more than 200 cross-referenced entries on politics, economy, foreign relations, religion, and culture of the medieval Nubians”—Provided by publisher. Identifiers: LCCN 2020006344 (print) | LCCN 2020006345 (ebook) | ISBN 9781538133408 (cloth) | ISBN 9781538133415 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Christianity—Nubia. | Nubia—History. | Nubia—Antiquities. Classification: LCC DT159.6.N83 L634 2020 (print) | LCC DT159.6.N83 (ebook) | DDC 962.5/02203—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020006344 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020006345 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 early and medieval Christian Nubia. What were the precursors, how did they function, and what are the survivals and implications as illuminated in the present?


Editor’s Foreword






Reader’s Notes










Appendix 1: Main Language Groups


Appendix 2: The Salvage of Ancient Nubian Temples in Egypt


Appendix 3: The Salvage of Ancient Nubian Temples in Sudan


Appendix 4: Implications of the High Dam at Aswan


Appendix 5: Bishops from Daras


Appendix 6: Kings of Christian Nubia


Appendix 7: Sectarian Christian Faiths




About the Author



Editor’s Foreword

This Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia deals primarily with the Middle Ages, mainly 312 CE to 1504 CE. A great many significant events happened during this period, not the least regarding the relationship between Christianity and Islam. The dictionary entries focus on leading personalities; political, economic, and social features; and the religious background of the time. The book also contains a chronology, an introduction, multiple appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. Richard A. Lobban, the author of this volume, has written other books for Rowman & Littlefield—namely, the Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cape Verde, the Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, and the Historical Dictionary of Sudan. Dr. Lobban, a leading authority on the region and period, is professor emeritus of anthropology and African studies at Rhode Island College, where he had a long career. He also leads guided tours at the Archaeological Institute of America, teaches at the Naval War College, and was cofounder and first president of the Sudan Studies Association. Jon Woronoff Series Editor



I gratefully acknowledge previous contributions made by Miriam Ayad, Frederick Collins, Kharyssa Rhodes, and Paul Saucier. I also appreciate reflective conversations about Nubian Christianity with Herman Bell, Eugenio Fantusati, Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, Jalal Hashim, Robert Kramer, Gerald Lauche, “Nubantood,” and Marcus Yaeger. I never met Dr. John Samuel Mbiti, who was born in Mulango, Kenya, on 30 November 1931 and died in Burgdorf, Switzerland, on 5 October 2019 at the age of 87. Nonetheless our intellectual paths have crossed. First of all, he dispelled the idea that traditional African religions were somehow “primitive” and should not be given respect or taken seriously. His African Religions and Philosophy (1969) was thus seminal. Clearly this view had colonial and racist foundations that were used to justify imperial partition of the continent. This view and application is easily refuted by the vast depth of complex polytheism and henotheism in Africa, not to mention Jews in Egypt and Jesus and his apostles being on the African continent from the very beginning. Mbiti compelled a shift in paradigm on the history of religion in Africa as well as Medieval Christianity in Africa, which was mostly overlooked by colonial authorities. Mbiti studied at Makerere University in Uganda in 1953 but earned his BA degree in theology from Barrington College in Rhode Island, which is just across Narragansett Bay from where I am writing this book. After a teaching stint, he went on to earn his PhD in theology from Cambridge University, where he was married; he then returned to teach African religion in Uganda. He taught at the University of Bern from 1983 to 2003, then turned to translate the New Testament from its original Greek to his mother language, Kamba, which he completed in 2014 after finding many errors in the colonial version. So while we never met and I am only an anthropologist and historian of Christianity in Nubia, one of my goals is to study and describe the case of Nubian Christianity to make it better understood on its own terms, struggles, and context. I am so sorry that Dr. Mbiti has passed away, as perhaps he would be interested to read this book. I wish I had met him. I owe much acknowledgment and gratitude to my colleague and wife, Dr. Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, who tolerated the many months taken up by this project, who was always supportive and interested, and with whom I had endless discussions during the process. xi



Special thanks are also due to Eugenio Fantusati, my Italian friend and colleague, for three decades of writing together, working together, and excavating together—along with his wife, Rita Variale, and Marco Baldi. Aside from the time we spent together (spanning a decade) on our Meroitic project at Abu Erteila, we had many meals and conversations together. While this site is recognized mainly for the previously unknown Meroitic temple built by King Natakamani and Queen Amanitore of the first decades of the Christian millennium, it did have a Christian cemetery in the 10th and 11th centuries on the strata above as well as in the temple. This gave me more information on rural Christian life during the Golden Age of Makurra and Alwa. Over the years of excavating, we had scores of workers and NCAM inspectors, but I am especially grateful to ‘Abd al-Hafez and Muhammad ‘Ali. Through Eugenio I met the late Father Giovanni Vantini in Sudan and Italy. He was also an inspiration for this work. During the 50 years between when I first went to Sudan in 1970 until my visit in 2020, I participated in many international Nubian studies, Sudan studies, and Meroitic studies conferences, where I met and engaged with hundreds of researchers on Sudan. It would be truly impossible to acknowledge all of them, except to thank them for their collective, persistent resolve to study all complex aspects of Sudanese archaeology.


This book brackets, contextualizes, and extracts a segment of the very long history of Nubian Sudan. As described in the Reader’s Notes section, versions of this book have been evolving since 1978 as more information has been collected and recorded. This specific book is focused on the medieval or Christian period of Nubian history. However, given the centuries of history involved, previous periods of pharaonic, Kerma, Napatan, Meroitic, and XGroup civilizations contribute to and articulate with the formation and content of this Christian epoch. Also, for most of this period, Christian Nubians interacted substantially with Muslim Egypt, so this relationship also needs to be understood to comprehend Christian Nubia. When Christian Nubia started to decline, it was not at one time nor in one place because the process started in the 7th century, lasted until the 14th century, and did not formally end until the start of the 16th century. Even so, some Christian practices and beliefs have survived in Sudan. There are Christian churches in Khartoum and South Sudan. Thus, this book is very much a study of evolution and continuity, providing for substantial differences and change. It is a study of reinterpretations and reapplications of the earlier features that reappear in Christian Nubia. Whether in architecture, symbolism, natural and material resources, or theology, there is an evolutionary flow in human experiences— a human desire to seek new identities and new configurations of former solutions to life along the Nile. In short, this book simply cannot limit itself to rigid start and stop dates, nor to beliefs and conceptual patterns that pass from some imagined historical “zero point” to full acceptance. Human beings are too complicated for this to be the case. Because the ebb and flow of Christian Nubian history is nuanced, contested, and contradictory, this book expands into earlier periods to elucidate the context and linkage in beliefs and practices that live on in modern Sudanese Nubian beliefs. The Historical Dictionary of Ancient Nubia delves much more into this earlier period, while the fourth edition of the Historical Dictionary of Sudan spans medieval times through the complexities of the shorter Islamic period, right down to the issues of modern Sudan in the 21st century.


Reader’s Notes

This book evolved from the Historical Dictionary of Sudan by John Obert Voll, which was published in 1978 by Scarecrow Press. It became the much expanded second edition (published in 1992), which I wrote along with Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban and John Voll. I wrote the third edition with Robert Kramer and Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban in 2002, as well as the Historical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval Nubia in 2003 and the A to Z of Ancient and Medieval Nubia in 2010. The fourth edition of the Historical Dictionary of Sudan, which I also wrote with Robert Kramer and Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban in 2013, includes the modern period of Omer Al-Beshir, just toppled in the summer of 2019 but with an unclear future. As research expanded and history evolved, I divided the Historical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval Nubia into two new books: the Historical Dictionary of Ancient Nubia and the Historical Dictionary of Medieval Christian Nubia. So this book starts with the late ancient times of Meroë and pre-Christian horizons (or X-Group horizons of the Ballana and Tangasi cultures) to provide context for the start of medieval Christian Nubia. It ends about a millennium ago when the last Christian kingdom of Alwa at Soba was replaced by nascent Islam in the central Sudan and with the rise of Muslim Funj Sultanates, which were heavily advised by Muslim Mahas Nubians. This evolution is parallel to the steadily increasing interest in Nubian, Meroitic, and Sudanese studies as research and coverage in these domains has deepened and expanded. This book will not cover the reintroduction of Christianity during the British colonial period.



Nubian Nile in Christian Times: Capitals, Kingdoms, and Cataracts 1–6



PREHISTORIC TIMES 250,000 BP Lower Paleolithic, Khor Abu Anga. 30,000 BP Upper Paleolithic in Sudan. 9,000 BP Singa Skull of the Blue Nile. 7,000–4,500 BCE Khartoum Mesolithic. 4,500–3,500 BCE Sudan Neolithic. 3,000 BCE A-Group in Lower Nubia.

HISTORIC AND DYNASTIC TIMES 3100 BCE Upper and Lower Egypt is unified. 3000 BCE Egypt raids Nubia for slaves, livestock, ivory, and gold. Pyramid construction and origin of hieroglyphic writing begin in Egypt. Egypt is threatened by Kerma and builds a score of large fortresses from the First to Second Cataracts.

RISE OF KERMA 2500–2000 BCE Kerma rises during the First Intermediate and Middle Kingdom of Egypt. 1900–1570 BCE Kerma Territory expands; Hyksos seek Nubian allies to block Egypt.

NEW KINGDOM OCCUPIES NUBIA 1570 BCE New Kingdom dynasties occupy Kerma/Kush as Egyptian colony. xix



1069 BCE Nubian revolts finally terminate Egyptian rule of Kush.

RESURGENCE OF THE NUBIAN STATE AT KURRU 950 BCE Kushites resume attacks on Egypt. 850 BCE Royal Nubian burials begin 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 25TH DYNASTY RULES EGYPT 760 BCE Nubian “Ethiopian” rule of Egypt is established as the 25th dynasty. 760–747 BCE Reign of Kashta. 747–716 BCE Reign of Piankhy; completes conquest of Egypt. 716–701 BCE Reign of Shabaka. 701–690 BCE Reign of Shabataka. 690–664 BCE Reign of Taharka; Taharka is buried at Nuri. 664–653 BCE Reign of Tanutamun; Tanutamun withdraws from Egypt.

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. 590 BCE Psammetichos II (Psamtik, 26th dynasty) invades Nubia. Trade and power gradually transfer from Napata to Meroë.



PERSIAN, GRECO-ROMAN, AND MEROITIC TIMES 529–521 BCE Reign of Cambyses, Persian king of Egypt. 404–369 BCE Reign of Kushite king Harsiyotef, who is buried at Nuri. 335–315 BCE Reign of Nastasen; he is the last to rule from Napata. 332 BCE Alexander the Great conquers Egypt. 270 BCE Meroë is the effective capital of Nubia. 260 BCE Ergamenes is the first king to be buried at Meroë. 240 BCE Meroë retakes Lower Nubia and threatens Upper Egypt. 150 BCE Kandake Shanadakheto has first dated Meroitic inscription. 44 BCE Julius Caesar is assassinated. 43 BCE Roman control of Britain begins. 30 BCE Cleopatra VII and Caesar Antony commit suicide. Caesar Augustus (Octavian) begins Roman rule of Egypt. 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 AND THE FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY 33 CE Crucifixion and martyrdom of Christ. 37 CE First Nubian convert to Christianity returns to Meroë. 66–73 CE First Jewish revolt against Romans occurs. 115–117 CE Second Jewish revolt against Romans takes place. 132–135 CE Bar Kochba Revolt occurs. 260–300 CE Major conversions to Coptic Christianity in Egypt take place; some arrive in Nubia.



297 CE Emperor Diocletian withdraws Roman border back to Aswan. 312 CE Emperor Constantine accepts Christianity for the Roman Empire. 325 CE Council of Nicaea seeks to resolve the theological issue of the “oneness of God.” 340 CE Axumite king Ezana accepts Christianity and invades his rival state at Meroe. 350–550 CE X-Group societies at Ballana and Tangasi are configured as a syncretic blend of Pharaonic, Kushite, and Christian beliefs and practices. 381 CE Council of Constantinople. 391 CE Christianity is the official religion of the Egyptian state. 410 CE Romans withdraw from Britain. 431 CE Council of Ephesus. 451 CE Council of Chalcedon adds to the schism between Monophysite and Roman Church. The first mud-brick church is constructed at Faras. 452 CE Early Christian missionaries arrive in Nubia. 525 CE Emperor Justinian I officially closes Isis Temple at Philae. The temple is repurposed as a church.

EXPANSION OF NUBIAN CHRISTIANITY 537 CE King Silko inscription at Kalabsha records his defeat of the Blemmyes. This is often taken as the official start of state Christianity in Nubia. 543–569 CE Major Monophysite missionary drive by Julian in Nubia is endorsed by Empress Theodora, thus, the first Monophysite churches are officially formed in Nubia. 543 CE Faras is established as the capital of the Christian kingdom of Nobatia. 560 CE The missionary Longinus is active at Soba in the Christian kingdom of Alwa. 569 CE Dongola is established as the capital of the Christian kingdom of Mukurra. 579–580 CE 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 Zakarias 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, as they are replaced by Fatimids. ca. 1050 CE As many as 50,000 Nubians serve in the Fatimid army. 1054 CE Schism between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics expands. 1140s CE Christian Kingdom of Dotawo is 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 Ibrhim. He is the brother of Saladin al-Ayubi. Ibrahim al-Kurdi loots the region until 1175. 1272 CE King Dawud takes throne of Christian Nubia. 1275–1365 CE Frequent wars occur between Nubian Christians and Egyptian Mamlukes. 1276 CE Shekanda expedition against King Dawud occurs. 1317 CE The last Christian king of Nubia is defeated. Muslim king ‘Abdullah Barshambu is placed on throne at Dongola. The first mosque is built. 1366 CE Daw is expanded by refugee king after Dongola falls. Christian nephew of king returns to Qasr Ibrim. 1372 CE The bishop of Faras is still consecrated by the Alexandrian patriarch. 1378–1417 CE Western schism within Roman Catholicism occurs.



DECLINE OF NUBIAN CHRISTIANITY / RISE OF ISLAM 632 CE Prophet Mohammad dies. 639 CE Muslims (Rashidun) invade Egypt. 641 CE Muslim armies reach the Dongola Plain but are forced back. 652 CE Baqt (peace treaty) is established between Christian Nubia and Muslim Egypt. 661–750 CE Ummayad dynasty rules Egypt. 750–870 CE Abbasid dynasty rules Egypt. 950 CE Some Muslims are reported at Soba. 969–1171 CE Fatimid dynasty rules Egypt. Al-Azhar University is constructed 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 The last Alexandrian priest is sent to Nubia. 1260–1277 CE Mamluke sultan al-Zahir Baybars attacks Nubia. 1264 CE Nubians pay baqt tribute to the Mamlukes. 1268 CE Dongola king Dawud pays baqt tribute. 1276 CE Mamlukes sack Dongola. King Dawud is captured. 1289 CE The last Mamluke campaign against Dongola occurs. 1504 CE Christian Alwa collapses. Islamic Funj Sultanates begin.


When did Christianity begin in Nubia, and when did it end? Unfortunately, these simple questions are very difficult to answer because it all depends on how one defines or identifies the origin of this faith in this land. Did the Ptolemaic (Septuagint) translation of the Hebrew Torah become the Christian Pentateuch, which became the Old Testament? Should it be dated to the flight of Jesus and his family to the Nile valley, or is it the conversion from Judaism to Christianity by his martyred apostle, Saint Mark of Alexandria? Perhaps it should be the biblical reference in the Acts of the Apostles to the first Christian believer (a eunuch slave) in the 1st century at Meroë itself, or maybe the Coptic Christian underground refugees fleeing from Roman persecution from the 1st to 4th centuries? Perhaps it should be the famed Christian declaration of King Silko in the early part of the 6th century. Others date this epoch with the evangelical rivalry of Justinian and Theodora, but it is more likely that there were already plenty of Christians there at the time, making it worthwhile for them to try to lure Monophysites over to Orthodox beliefs or sustain their Monophysite views. Really, there is much room for interpretation and judgment. During the many centuries that the three Christian kingdoms functioned from the 6th to 16th centuries, Nobatia disappeared, documents from Mukurra are incomplete and irregular at best, and records in Alwa are rare. Reports by outsiders bordered more on military and economic intelligence than neutral historiography. After the fall of the last Christian kingdom in 1504, five more centuries of Islam tended to obscure and neglect the Christian period. Equally problematic is trying to determine when Christianity in Nubia “came to an end” since there were three Christian kingdoms falling at very different times when Nobatia was annexed by Mukurra soon after the first was founded. Then it was not until the 14th century that Dongola fell while Alwa was not brought to an end until the early 16th century. Even with Dongola finished, Dotawo survived until the end of the 15th century. Finally, Christian beliefs carried on in syncretic and Sufi Islam. Once again the simple question of when Christianity came to an end is very elusive. If this chronological quest is frustrating and inexact, one might turn to a thematic historiography that might be Formative Christianity, followed by persecution and hostility. The next epoch was acceptance and schism, followed by classical pre-Islamic times, the declining period, and the rise of Islam. Another effort to put Christian history in five-stage order was guided by an analysis of religious mural art by Jakobielski in 1982 as follows: (1) xxv



Early Christianity, 750–850 CE; (2) Classic Christianity I, 850–950 CE; (3) Classic Christianity II, 950–1050 CE; (4) Late Christianity, 1050–1250 CE; and (5) Terminal Christianity, 1250–1500. This neat system, however, has few concrete documents to support it. Moreover, I would be tempted to insert two earlier phases: (a) Formative Christianity, perhaps from 0–550 CE (before King Silko), and (b) Foundational State Formation with King Silko as founder. Also one might add a later period (c) of Christian Syncretism and Survivals, 1500–2000 CE (during colonialism and in modern Sudan). This present dictionary assists the reader in answering these historiographic questions by filling in the details for as many as two millennia that have passed since the first known Christian to formal Christianity in modern Muslim Sudan, not to mention in the southern Sudan. So one can even say that Christianity never ended. The reader will have to make his or her own judgment. These times in Nubia are roughly concurrent with the Dark or Middle Ages in Europe or the slow end of the Roman Empire to the rise of the Ottomans in 1517. For Europe, this was a time of feudalism, religious superstitions, anti-science, intolerance, and authoritarian Christianity. This was a time of Islamic expansion into Iberia, which was only halted in 732 CE at Tours, France, around 150 miles from the English Channel, when the strong Viking sailors invaded England and Scotland and when Christianity evolved into the state powers in Europe and concluded in the Christian Crusades in the Middle East. It would also be useful to compare and contrast these events in contemporary Europe with those in Christian Nubia, but this lies just beyond the parameters of this book. Hopefully this book will tempt others into this comparative 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 Pan-Grave, Blemmyes, and Medjay peoples. In ancient times, the Ababda ancestors often served as mercenary forces (matoi) or border patrols for the Egyptians and were thus 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 have 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, and they worked 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. ABDALLAH IBN SA’AD IBN SARH. Ibn Sarh, the Muslim ruler of Upper Egypt, formalized the baqt treaty between the Christian kings of Nubia with the Muslim leaders of Egypt. This commercial, political, military, and strategic agreement was likely rendered from the Latin pactum of treaty of nonaggression. This mutually protective arrangement established in 652 CE after the Second Battle of (Old) Dongola was, in fact, rather unequal since it provided commercial markets for Egyptian goods, while Nubians had to provide 360 healthy male and female slaves at Aswan annually. Travelers’ security in either respective land would be guaranteed, but no permanent residence, and neither party should wage attacks against the other. It also 1



provided that runaway slaves from Egypt should be returned along with any rebels against the Egyptian government. It did accept that religious freedom should be protected for Muslims in their Dongola mosque. Despite the limitations and provisions, which were not always honored, the baqt can be credited as the most enduring, centuries-long peace treaty between Christians and Muslims as a major diplomatic achievement. ABDALLAH NIRQI. Abdallah Nirqi is the name given to the site of a small Nubian church on the west side of the Nile near Abu Simbel. This Christian site is only around 2.5 miles north of Abu Simbel in Egypt on the west bank or about 170 miles upstream from Philae. It had a central church and perhaps two smaller churches and various tomb types in the kingdom of Nobatia. Abdallah Nirqi functioned within the northern Christian kingdom of Nobatia, with its administrative capital at Faras. After the 5th-century spread of Christianity into Nubia, numerous churches, chapels, and some monasteries were built almost until the end of Nubian Christianity in Lower Nubia in the 14th century and until the early 16th century in Alwa at Soba. It was likely abandoned before the end of Christian times and perhaps at other times as well, as it appears to have had three separate, and qualitatively different, construction types in these occupational phases. Almost all of these buildings are lost under Lake Nasser or were quarried away for other constructions, but some architectonic elements such as frescoes, gravestones, pottery, and textiles have been found during Nubian salvage campaigns and moved to various museum collections. Its frescoes were partially preserved by the endless accumulation of windblown sand that protected interior walls while damaging the structure itself. Some Lower Nubian churches were almost totally buried by built-up sand. It had some remarkable murals painted with the al-secco technique probably in the 7th or 8th centuries. Other frescoes rescued from the 10th century church at Abdallah Nirqi are displayed at the Nubian Museum at Aswan and others in rooms 17 and 18 at the Cairo Coptic Museum. One polychrome fresco fragment has a nativity image of a recumbent Virgin Mary, with Jesus, Joseph, and three wise men on their horses along with two shepherds. Generally, the style followed the prevailing Byzantine iconography with local interpretations and varied skills. The Nubian salvage project was excavated by the Leiden Museum of Antiquities from 1962 to 1964 and by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1964. Time ran out as the site was flooded, and much was left unexcavated. ABU ERTEILA. When the first edition of this book was published, the site of Abu Erteila was effectively unknown and unexcavated. It is located just southeast of the town of Kabushiya north of Shendi in the Sudanese Butana



desert. Its coordinates are 16° 52’7.36 N; 38°42’23.70 E. It is now known as a Christian and Meroitic site excavated by a joint team of Russians, Italians, and Americans. Earlier reports noticed three koms and surface debris of fired red bricks and pottery shards but no excavation. Operating under a license from National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums of Sudan (NCAM), and after a probe with ground-penetrating radar and a decade of excavations, Kom One has been shown to have multiple storage rooms with shards of utilitarian ware, a kitchen area with seven cooking pots heated by charcoal, and associated butchered animal bones. The southern end of Kom Two is also made up of many storage rooms, some of which were made by recycling Meroitic blocks and elements into Christian residences and intrusive burials. During the excavation, many architectonic temple elements were found, such as lintels, lion sculptures, cornices, column bases, and drums, but the in situ biaxial temple was not found until 2016, when Kom Three was excavated. 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 wellknown 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 1st century CE when the very first Christian was known in Meroë as reported in the Acts of the Apostles. Many signs of burned wood timbers and mats and comprehensive destruction suggest that it was finally abandoned during the Christian Axumite invasion in the 4th century CE. In around the 11th and 12th centuries, the upper strata of the site were used as a “Christian” cemetery, with more than 60 burials found with Carbon-14 dates at this time. 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, no burial goods, and varied burial orientations. ABU GHAZALA. The Abu Ghazala monastery was located some 15 kilometers south of the Nile into Wadi Abu Dom on the “shortcut” track across the Bayuda desert and on to Meroë. Monasteries are much less common in Nubia than in Egypt; however, this is quite large and is comparable in size to Saint Catherine’s monastery in the southern Sinai and also needs to be compared with the Qasr el-Wizz monastery in Lower Nubia. Apparently it was a subsidiary to Dongola. While Abu Ghazala has been known for centuries, it was not excavated until the 1950s, and it was then neglected after this initial effort. However, with Qatar funding and Polish leadership of Artur Obluski, very substantial new excavations took place from 2014 to 2018. Among the



impressive findings were numerous inscriptions second only to Qasr Ibrim or Faras. These more extensive excavations also revealed white plaster walls, paved floors, and even a series of toilets for the monastic residents. 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 the 18th dynasty by Horemheb 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 Saint 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 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 the public interest. The extensive penetration of windblown sand buried the original entrance and some inner rooms, thereby adding 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 was 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. 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 began 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.



ABWAB. Abwab represents the northern “doorways” of the Christian kingdom of Alwa or Alodia with its capital at Soba on the right bank of the Blue Nile. It 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 is related to the Nile between the fifth or sixth cataract—that is, in the vicinity of the strategic trading town of Shendi. 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 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,” “diplomat,” or “court official.” He must have been of some considerable importance for his freedom to travel and historical note. The best estimate suggests that this event took place sometime perhaps between 60 and 100 CE. Many religious currents were then extant along the Nile, from Meroitic theology to Judaism from Falashas in Axum or 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 this “treasurer” 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) notes 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. ADDO. See JEBEL ADDA, ADO. ADULIS. One of the largest urban centers of the Red Sea coast, Adulis was an important trading port during the Greco-Roman period (332 BCE–395 CE) of ancient Egyptian and Nubian history. Classical historical sources report that Ptolemy II founded Philadelphus, located on the northeastern coast of the modern Eritrean city of Massawa and the modern archaeological site of Adulis, in the middle of the 3rd century BCE. By 75 CE, Pliny the Elder considered Adulis one of the most important Roman ports of call on the Red Sea. At a nexus of maritime trade between the Mediterranean and interior Africa, Adulis supplied the Roman Empire with ebony, hippopotamus hides, rhinoceros horns, tortoise shells, gold, spices, and slaves. According to Pliny, important export commodities were ivory and live elephants, which were hunted and captured in the nearby forest and in eastern Butana for use in entertainment, for Rome’s imperial wars and repression of early Christians in Egypt, and for the arrival of the first recorded Christians at Meroë, which used Adulis as a southern port for maritime trade with Roman Egypt. More important, written on the Peripulus were ports in the vicinity of Suakin. Indeed, as the trade shifted more to Adulis and Eritrea, this favored Christian Axum that finally came to destroy Meroë. Because of the relative ease by which Adulis could be approached by sea, the port had a tremendous competitive advantage over the Red Sea and Nile ports of Meroë, which was environmentally circumscribed by the desert and the Nile cataracts. As a result, Axum, only an eight-day journey from Adulis, was able to surpass Meroë as the favored trading partner of the Roman Empire. Some scholars believe that this development dealt an existential economic blow from which Meroë was never able to recover and that eventually this led to the fall of the Meroitic Kingdom. Adulis reached its peak of prosperity between the 5th and 6th centuries CE, when it became the leading port linking the Byzantine Empire, Early Christian Nubia, and India.

AESOP (?–CA. 564 BCE)


AESOP (?–ca. 564 BCE). This 6th-century BCE storyteller was a captured slave of Nubian origins who was sold from Phrygia to a merchant in the island of Samos. His status and name may be taken as a corruption of “Aethiop” (or “burned-faced people”) and a standard Greek gloss for all people south of the Sahara, but since the slave trade in the 6th century was especially along the Nile, he may well be considered of Nubian origin. In any case, he was traded to Samos as an adult full of stories that parallel the Nubian (or Libyic) folklore genre. His contemporary period coincides with the Assyrianbacked satrap kings of Egypt who had clashed militarily with Nubians and drove them out of Egypt. This certainly gave many opportunities to take Nubian prisoners of war and make them slaves. Although Aesop’s life is not well known, his biographers J. E. Keller and L. Keating describe him as having a large mouth and black eyes, as well as being “ugly.” Such contemporary terminology would also be consistent for someone of non-European (i.e., African) origins. He was also reported as a “stutterer,” which could easily be understood as the common classical GrecoRoman reference to the “stutters” of languages not understood. Thus, they were called “ber-ber” or “bra-bra” that lived beyond the limes or borders of Greek Cyrenaica of later Roman North African territory. Until today, the “Berbers” still have this exogenous name while preferring to be called Amazig or Tuareg. One of Aesop’s tales is about an “Ethiopian” slave (i.e., Nubian). Moreover, the circumstantial evidence is strengthened by the fact that his largely moralist folktales, passed through the centuries, are parallel to this genre in historic and modern Nubian folklore. Animals exogenous to Greece (e.g., scarabs, scorpions, jackals, foxes, monkeys, apes, elephants, crocodiles, camels, lions, poisonous asps, and boa constrictors) are not found in Greece but are plentiful in Africa, and these animals are found commonly in the works of Aesop. Other animals often mentioned by Aesop (e.g., crows, frogs, kites, horses, dogs, bees, flies, ants, pigeons, mice, storks, rabbits, sheep, and goats) are found in Greece but were also widely known in Nubia. The Nile is mentioned, interestingly, in his tale The Murderer, and some reports indicate that Aesop may have gone to Egypt on a trip. His tale The Eunuch and the Sacrificer also reverberates with slavery along the Nile. Some of his tales were said to be of “Libyan” origin, which is a common classical reference for “Africa.” Modern Nubian folklore is rich in animal themes, and a common theme in African folklore is based on trickster characters and cunning exploits that are also common in Aesop’s fables. The confirmation of Aesop as a Nubian can be made by this circumstantial evidence. Clearly Aesop lived in the pre-Christian period, but long after his death his stories, morality tales, and parables remain significant in Christian and Islamic times.



AGILKA, AGILKIA ISLAND. Agilka Island is the modern site of the relocated temples at Philae. The top of this island was removed, and the site was substantially reconfigured with bulldozers to reproduce the shape and orientation of nearby submerged Philae. Thus, Agilka is a product of archaeological imagination, but the result is so stunningly effective that it has preserved, and essentially assumed, the identity of ancient Philae, when the numbered blocks were resituated in their original places. Philae was repurposed in Greco-Roman times and again in Christian times when some rooms were used as churches. Most of the polytheistic images of deities depicted here were later defaced by Christians who rejected worship of “graven idols.” The strict Chalcedonian emperor Justinian I officially closed the Philae temple in 525 CE, which had been long used by Nubians still devoted to worshipping Isis. AGRICULTURE. The history of agriculture in Nubia and along the Nile is a vast topic. The earliest agriculture of the region involved imported grain from the Near East, which included emmer wheat for making beer and barley for making bread. Millet or sorghum was important in both Egypt and Nubia and may well have been a local domesticate across the Sahel. Clover (berseem) was present from the start of animal husbandry as a food crop for animal feed. Root crops were not as important as they were in Sub-Saharan and tropical Africa; however, onions, lentils, lettuce, grapes, figs, melons, garlic, and olives were either from southwest Asia or northeast Africa at the start of the dynastic period. Bananas, sugarcane, rice, eggplant, and mangoes came far later, in around the 1st century CE from southeast Asia. The important New World crops such as corn, peanuts, tomatoes, cacao, papaya, and tobacco did not start to arrive until the early 16th century CE. Animal husbandry included the earliest domestication of sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle, which were all eaten, milked, and used in various ways. Seluki dogs were early domesticated companions for hunting even before agriculture while cats were domesticated as agriculture evolved; donkeys appeared in the Nile valley during the Old Kingdom or before. Systematic beekeeping for honey and wax is known in the Nile valley from the earliest dynastic times and foraging for wild honey even earlier. There were domesticated animals within the Neolithic horizons of the Nubian A-Group and its predynastic Egyptian counterparts. Horses did not arrive in numbers until the time of the Hyksos, and camels likely entered the region in Assyrian times. There are debates over dating, types of animals and plants, and the extent of agriculture in determining their respective introduction. Genomic surveys have already made important inroads in this research. Aside from millet, which may have come from Nubia, many of the other introductions were likely later in Nubia than Egypt since the extensive Nubian savanna with abundant wildlife was more attractive for human use, unlike the impacted



habitat, larger population, and earlier mega-fauna extinctions in Egypt that demanded the somewhat earlier switch to intensive, flood-based agriculture. However, dates in the area of 7,000 to 6,000 BCE are reasonable estimates, but further genetic and archaeological investigation is needed that could provide earlier evidence of plant and animal domestication. Agriculture in ancient and medieval Nubia was first organized around flood-plain and Nile bank cultivation known as gerf farming. Not surprisingly, the several major centuries of early population growth occurred in the Delta and Karnak in Egypt and Kerma and Meroë in Nubia, which were all located on extensive flood plains. Some canalization of water diverted or dammed between the banks and close islands was likely at early times to extend the growing season for crops or for grazing lands for domestic animals, such as non-taboo pigs in Christian times. The water-lifting beam—the keeyay (in Nubian) or shaduf (in Arabic)—in the New Kingdom, and the endless loop of water jars with an animal-driven, wooden-geared system called the essikalay (water-lifter in Nubian) or sakia (in modern Arabic) that was introduced in Greco-Roman times if not before, endured all through Christian times. These allowed for intensive agriculture to expand considerably at these times. Archaeology of Christian horizons found the use of wine presses and dates continued to have great importance. Now, major dam-based gravity systems and hydraulic pumps have replaced these traditional modes of irrigation. AKASHA. Akasha is located amid the Dal cataract about 40 kilometers downstream of the third cataract in the Butn al-Hajr region. The third cataract was also a strategic point with a highly perched Turkish fort overlooking the Kajbar cataract. Akasha and Kulb are on the eastern bank of the Nile. At Ukma on the western bank are sites of small Christian churches. Akasha was also the site of small monastic communities that may have existed during the Classic Christian period (9th to the 12th centuries CE). For such communities Akasha was a holy place also housing the only known hot spring in Nubia. Along with Meinarti, Akasha served as a customs post that demarcated the Lower Nubia free trade zone. It should not be confused with Aksha. AKHENATON, IKHNATON, AMENHOTEP IV (1350–1334 BCE). This 18th-dynasty pharaoh came from a line of pharaohs named Amenhotep and was the son of Amenhotep II and his wife Tiye. While he ruled in ancient dynastic Egypt, he had a foundational tie to Judeo-Christian monotheism. He could have easily ruled from Thebes as did the others, but he is best known for his “heresy” against the henotheistic Amun cult and his introduction of the primary worship of the sun god Aton at his new capitol at Amarna, the



worship of the singular Aton cult, his unique portraiture, the Amarna art style, his exquisitely lovely wife Nefertiti, and palace intrigues. The mysteries that surround his death and succession certainly make him one of the more remarkable kings of ancient Egypt. Also an odd and unexplained iconography gives Akhenaton a link to Nubia. On occasion, Akhenaton was depicted wearing a skullcap and the double-cobra uraeus that later became a common symbol for Kushites in the 25th dynasty and thereafter. The political and theological confusion sown in Egypt by Akhenaton’s religious experimentation in henotheism may have come as some temporary relief to Kushites and Asians still reeling from the heavy hand of earlier colonial 18th-dynasty pharaohs. In Nubia under Akhenaton, only the walled colonial town of Sesibi and three temples at that location were built, but this may have been before his sixth year, when he converted to the Aton cult. Likewise, it may be that his father started the town that became known as Gem-Aton (later Kawa), opposite modern Dongola and a few miles above Kerma. Once his reign was over, many physical traces of his administration were carefully eliminated or recycled into other structures. One could imagine that the temple of Tutankhamun (earlier known as Tutankhaton) also built at Kawa may have been fashioned from blocks originally used in the construction there by his ancestor Akhenaton. Finally, this dynasty collapsed in confusion, perhaps because of the possible murder of Tutankhamun and/or the military rule by Horemhab that brought the 18th dynasty to a halt. However, with the start of the 19th dynasty, Nubia was still under Egyptian colonial rule. This remarkable and strong impulse toward monotheism under the reign of Akhenaton is broadly considered as a significant influence to Moses and the subsequent rise of Judaic monotheism in their Exodus and, ultimately, toward Christianity itself as Jesus was born a Jew and traveled back to Egypt in early Roman times. In short, while Akhenaton and Tutankhaton ruled long before Christianity, the birth of Atonism was a clear trend of henotheism and monotheism that presaged the very Mosaic origin of the Judeo-Christian order along the Nile that is central to this dictionary. AL-. The definite article in Arabic, often found in modern and medieval toponyms and site names in Nubia. AL-ASWANI, ABDALLAH B. AHMED B. SELIM. Apparently, this 10th-century diplomat was officially employed by the Fatimid caliph to travel on a political and military mission to Lower Nubia and Mukurra to restore baqt payments from the Christian king George II. This was a time of



Christian Nubian attacks into Egypt and Egyptian attacks by Al-Umari into Nubia. Possibly Al-Aswani personally reached Alwa, which was included in his reports that were saved by Al-Maqrizi. AL-IDRISI, ABU ABDALLAH MUHAMMAD. This geographer and cartographer is best noted for his Old World map produced in the mid-12th century for King Roger II of Sicily. The style is clearly Ptolemaic, but north is pointed downward instead, and the inscriptions are in Arabic. Of relevance to Nubia are his knowledge of the bifurcation of the Nile, the “Mountains of the Moon,” Habash (Ethiopia), the Nile itself, and the land of “Al-Noba.” AlIdrisi was contemporary with Fatimid Egypt, when relations with Christian Nubia were relatively harmonious and tens of thousands of Nubians served in the Fatimid army. AL-KHUWARZMI, ABU JA’AFAR MUHAMMAD IBN MUSA (780–ca. 850 CE). Dynastic Egypt, Meroitic, and Christian Nubians had complex base-10 number systems as well as deep observations of stellar and solar systems, not to mention detailed knowledge of calendars, seasons, and the Nile inundations before Al-Khuwarzmi, so the work of the famed Persian geometrician and mathematician was built upon a strong foundation. He certainly added more in the 9th century during the golden age of the Abbasid dynasty during the caliphate of Harun ar-Rashid. His name lingers on in the word for algorithm as well as in algebra, trigonometry, and quadratic equations. He introduced the Hindu “Arabic” numbers. With his interest in geography, he defined longitudes and latitudes with more precision using sundials and astrolabes. His scholarship was celebrated at the famed Baet al-Hikma, which he headed in Baghdad where he died. While Abbasid rule was kept out of Christian Nubia, and Egyptian Copts were in revolts in 829–830 CE, it is possible that Al-Khuwarzmi’s work was known, to some extent, in those areas. The map of Al-Khuwarzmi noted the Mountains of the Moon, Aswan, the land of the Nubia, and the bifurcation of the Nile. At this time, the Abbasids in Egypt were represented by the Tulunids (868–905 CE) and the Ikhshids (935–960 CE) who had generally peaceful relations with Nubia while the baqt was in effect. AL-MAQRIZI, TAQI AL-DIN ABU AL-ABBAS (1364–1442). This 14thand 15th-century Egyptian historian wrote extensively during Burji Mamluke times (1382–1517 CE). He was a Sunni Muslim and deeply studied in theology and law at the famous Al-Azhar mosque and university. Nevertheless he was especially fascinated by the Shiite Fatimids who had built Al-Azhar during their previous rule of Egypt (969–1171 CE). He was amazingly prolific and wrote 16 volumes of Egyptian biographies that were supposed to be



part of an even larger work. The works of Al-Maqrizi are also highly valued because they preserve the earlier report of the Arab invasion of Egypt in the 7th century and the efforts to invade Nubia during the reign of King Qalidurut of Dongola. It was then that the baqt was initiated to make peace between Islamic Egypt and Christian Nubia. Although this was long before the time of Al-Maqrizi, he gave many details about the terms of this enduring treaty. His some 200 works also record the 9th-century CE revolts of the Nubians and Beja against the caliph during the reign of King George I. This information may have been copied from Ibn Hawqal in the late 9th and early 10th century. It is thanks to Al-Maqrizi that the earlier 10th-century reports of AlAswani are known. Contemporary Christian Nubia was already in serious decline having faced its last Bahri Mamluke military attack in 1289 CE and Dongola’s palace turned into a mosque in 1317 CE. Writing in the 14th century, Al-Maqrizi reported on King Amay (?) who followed King Shemamun, only to be murdered after a short reign. Also known from Al-Maqrizi are reports on the 18-month Egyptian campaign against Dongola in his work titled Kitab as-Suluk li-Ma’rifat Duwal al Muluk (The Book of the Way to Know the Dynasties of Kings), written in the first part of the 14th century, and his 16-volume collection of Egyptian biographies. Only Alwa remained as a Christian kingdom at the time of Al-Maqrizi, who was a major historian of the time and region. In his time, he noted that the Bisharin were also Christian. AL-MAS’UDI, ‘ABD AL-HASSAN IBN HUSSEIN IBN ‘ALI (896–956 CE). This noted traveler, geographer, and historian is sometimes termed as the “Herodotus of the Arabs.” He was born in Baghdad of a noted Hedjaz family during the illustrious Abbasid dynasty (749–1258 CE) with its famed libraries and savants and the Baet al-Hikma of Caliph Ma’mum. He traveled extensively in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. He authored some 20 books that show important Greco-Roman influences. His most influential book may be Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems, published in 947 CE while he lived in Fustat, Egypt. From 945 to 956 CE, he traveled in Upper Egypt and up to Nubia to record his impressions during the brief Ikhshid Muslim dynasty that ruled in Egypt from 935 to 969 CE. The Ikhshids were replaced by Fatimid (Shiite) rule of Egypt from 969 to 1171 CE that were contemporary with Nubian Christian rule from Dongola, the capital of Mukurra. At the time of Al-Mas’udi’s life in Egypt, there were several Nubian raids into Upper Egypt so the relatively poor political and military relations between the two provide the historical context for his travels up the Nile. His precise mission and sources of income remains unknown. In Fatimid times, soon after Al-Mas’udi’s death in 956 CE, relations with Christian Nubia improved because of the relative isolation of the Fatimids, who needed allies and a source of natural resources, livestock, and slave soldiers.



AL-UMARI, SHIHAB AD-DIN AL-ABBAS. This important, indeed, standard, Arab historian of Bahri Mamluke times (1250–1382 CE) is the major Arabic source for this period, which is also the same period of the active decline of Christian Nubia with increased Mamluke attacks. Thus the work of Al-Umari is important for the fall of Mukurra. Al-Umari visited Cairo in these times and famously reported on the visit of Mansa Kankan Musa, the Mansa of Mali who passed through Cairo on his pilgrimage. The work of AlUmari also suggests the possibility that Malian sailors reached the New World before Columbus. AL-YAQUBI, AHMED IBN ABI (?–ca. 898). Similar to Al-Khuwarzmi, Al-Yaqubi was active in the Abbasid golden age of the 9th century. Both were also scholars and geographers. Al-Yaqubi, like the much later Al-Umari, is a classic Shiite Muslim source on history with his Tarikh ibn Wadih, which relates to contemporary Christian history of Nubia. ALEXANDER THE GREAT (r. 332–323 BCE). This Macedonian was the builder of the great empire centered in Alexandria, named in his honor. He attacked coastal Asia Minor in 334 BCE and, by 333 BCE, pushed the forces of Persia’s King Darius into retreat at the battle of Issus. Cyprus was taken over by Macedonians, and Sidon in Lebanon finally capitulated as Alexander’s disciplined forces marched on Damascus. After a seven-month siege on Tyre, it too fell, and by 332 BCE, he had captured Darius and completed his defeat of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire. The Persians had threatened Greece and dominated the eastern Mediterranean previously. In this context of whirlwind military expansion, the cities of Judea and Egypt welcomed his arrival as the liberator from Persian rule. He arrived in Egypt in 331 BCE and promptly visited the Amun temple in Siwa where he had his famed oracular experience. Almost as quickly he left Egypt, never to return until his body was brought back after his death. Locating his tomb in Alexandria remains one of the great archaeological quests. His most lasting major achievement in Egypt was the foundation of the city of Alexandria, designed by Dinocrates, on a grid pattern including “wonder of the world” Pharos Lighthouse, the museum and library, the Jewish quarter, and many public monuments, temples, and tombs. Over the next three centuries, relations between the Greeks in Egypt and Nubia ranged from cordial, collaborative, and commercial to hostile, military, and suspicious. Greek (Ptolemaic) merchants traded cloth, glass, and bronze wares with Nubians for ivory, war elephants, slaves, ebony, feathers, gold, incense, and other goods from “Ethiopia,” or “the land of burnt faces,” which was their term for Nubia. Because Jews had been supportive and accommodating in the areas of scholarship, commerce, and martial arts, he (and the Ptole-



mies who followed) allowed Jews to settle in numbers in Alexandria and elsewhere in Egypt. Naturally this was all in the pre-Christian era, but many elements of the Torah were recorded during Ptolemaic times. These writings persisted in the Old Testament for early Christians, but the first three centuries of Egyptian Christianity were full of peril, pogroms, martyrdom, and abuse by the Romans ruling from his namesake city of Alexandria. Not staying long in Egypt after his brief pilgrimage to Siwa, Alexander ventured onward to the shores of the Caspian Sea, and from 327 to 326 BCE, he was engaged in overextended campaigns in India. It was on his return that he died in 323 BCE, after which Ptolemaic rule ensued in Egypt by his half brother and son, who soon saw the loss of some of the Alexandrian conquests, such as Babylonia by the rival Greek Seleucids in Persia and other parts of the Near East. Judea remained for a longer period of time under Ptolemaic rule, and the long and complex process of the Hellenization of Jews began, as did the Egyptianization of Greeks in Egypt. The clash between the Seleucid Antiochus II and Ptolemaic king Ptolemy IV, Philopator would reach a climax with their battle of Rafah in Gaza on 22 June 217 BCE. Such it was until the Lagid Ptolemies began a more institutionalized administration. Hellenic influence in Egypt that emerged in the wake of Alexander had a deep influence in Meroë in architecture, foreign relations and Greek visitors, the sciences, mathematics, Euclidian geometry, and probably the Meroitic written language that evolved in these centuries. Many Egyptian influences also seeped into the Greek occupation of Egypt with art forms and the foundational theological concepts and theogony that got Greek names but basically descended from the Egyptian polytheism and henotheism as well as origin myths and cosmology. Also Alexandria was at the epicenter of the theological disputes in 4th- and 5th-century Christianity that were as much about national, regional, and geo-strategic politics as they were about the debates on the nature(s) of Christ. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA; MIAPHYSITE; MONOPHYSITE. ALODIA, ALOA; ALWA (ARABIC). The southernmost of the three Christian kingdoms of medieval Nubia first emerged in central Sudan as the result of a missionizing effort after the fall of Meroë and after the transitional X-Group period. Its capital was at Soba, southeast of modern Khartoum that was, in fact, first built by the Turks salvaging bricks from Christian Soba. In about 580 CE the rulers of Alwa were converted to Monophysite Christianity by the missionary Longinus. Alwa survived as a Christian kingdom far longer that the two northern Christian kingdoms of Nobatia and Mukuria that fell to Islamic incursions and intermixture from Muslim Egypt in the 14th century CE. The northern “entrance” to Alodia was in the region of Abwab and in troubled times in Mukurra the Dongola kings would retreat to



Abwab for political refuge. According to tradition, Soba finally fell to the Funj Sultanate in 1504 CE, although the kingdom was certainly weakened before then. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA. ALWA. See ALODIA, ALOA; ALWA (ARABIC). AMADA, AMADEH. Amada is located in Lower Nubia between Qasr Ibrim and Korosko. Early excavations were enacted by the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania. Later, German salvage excavations revealed C-Group occupation and remains, a New Kingdom temple, and regional evidence dated to Meroitic, X-Group, and Christian times. Today, Amada is most noted for the excellent temple dedicated to New Kingdom pharaohs. Akhenaton and his Aton cult left their traces here in his effort to erase the role of Amun, but restorations attributed to Seti I and Ramses II sought to correct this mutilation. A substantial amount of the origin colors may still be seen in the Amada temple, and rich details of the ritual aspects of temple construction may be seen in the small chambers to the left and right of the inner sanctuary dedicated to Amenhotep II. In Christian times, this temple was replastered and repainted for religious purposes. Plastered Christian iconography is found only millimeters above New Kingdom images. In an effort to avoid having to deconstruct the Amada temple, workers moved the temple intact on a set of three heavy railroad tracks laid to support its great weight (some 900 tons) across the sand from the barge that carried it from its original site to its present location. There, it was lowered by massive hydraulic jacks to make a prominent monument at this new archaeological center. AMANIKHATASHANI, QUEEN (62–85 CE). This Meroitic queen, known from her Bejrawiya North Pyramid 18, reigned during the declining period of Meroë just after the reigns of King Natakamani, Queen Amanitore, and their son, King Shorkaror. The first Christian convert as reported in the Acts of the Apostles had just visited Meroë. In this historical context, it is interesting to note that she was buried with as many as three wooden bows, suggesting her military and regnal role. While this was in the Christian era, the state religion remained polytheistic, or perhaps henotheistic; deities such as Amun were most important; however, Isis, Osiris, Hapy, and Apedemek, among others, were celebrated in this theology. It was at about this time that the first Christian convert lived and worked in the royal court of Meroë. Most likely, Jewish refugees had also taken refuge along the Nile and into Ethiopia.



AMANITORE, AMANITERE, AMANITARE (r. 12 BCE–12 CE). This Meroitic queen or kandake was coregent with her king (qore) “brother” Natakamani at the exact transition to the Christian era. While she and her king did not accept Christianity, it was just prior to the first Christian being reported at royal Meroë as documented in the Acts of the Apostles. During their reign, there was clearly a vital security concern with rivals to the east, who finally conquered Meroë in the 4th century. They were among the very last royalty to have pyramids at the Bejrawiya North burial ground. Classical Meroitic civilization was at its glorious heights but soon was to head toward a long decline until its conquest by Christian Axumites. AMUN, AMEN, AMON CULT. Of Egyptian origin, this central and primordial cult of the sun god was most likely later merged with the Kerma sheep deities. In the Egyptian Old and Middle Kingdoms, within the polytheistic religion, Amun was typically a male anthropomorphic god. However, as religious and priestly power was more consolidated and expanded into colonized Nubia, during the New Kingdom Amun gained in prominence and centrality that may be termed as henotheism in which there is a plurality of deities but one that is certainly preeminent. This evolutionary theological trend burst forth during the New Kingdom in general, which pushed Amun into the highest level, especially in the case of the 18th dynasty’s Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) who created the virtually monotheistic god of Aton. To this extent, Akhenaton is often considered as the start of JudeoChristian monotheism. In the case of Egyptian imperial rule of Kerma, arguably their ram god—of unknown name but of high reverence in iconography, worship, and sacrifices—was most likely syncretically merged with Amun to become commonly reconfigured as a zoomorphic ram god to represent Amun in both Egypt and colonized Kush or Nubia. Rather than seek to stamp out this form of a central deity inherited from Kerma, it appears that the ram became insinuated in the human forms of Amun that existed previously. New Kingdom, Napatan, and Meroitic pharaohs and kings were projected as direct offspring of the ram-headed god Amun and his consort Mut. During and after the New Kingdom, the High Priests of Amun and the God’s Wife of Amun served to legitimate and link the rulers to this cult and to the theocratic state itself. This made for a “holy trinity” inherited from dynastic Egypt composed of the sun god Amun, Mut his consort, and their moon god son Khonsu. The ancient Nubian trinity of Khnum, Anqet, and Satis (or the trinity of Isis, Osiris, and Horus) echo down through Egyptian and Nubian history deep into the theological debates of medieval Christianity as seen with the Arians and Athanasius and onward into the many and divisive Christian Councils of the Eastern Roman Empire.



Relative to Nubia, the god Amun is sometimes reckoned as the “Bull of Nubia”—that is, the patriarchal progenitor or “father of Nubia.” Unlike the ram or goat gods of Harishef and Khnum, Amun was always depicted with forward-curving horns, rather than the lateral spiraling horns popular in portrayals throughout Egypt and Nubia. At the majestic Napatan site of Jebel Barkal, it was believed and depicted that Amun actually lived within this holy mountain in the freestanding Amun temple stretching out from the southern face of the mountain, or in the rock-cut temple, or in the Mut temple on the west. The name Amun was usually hyphenated with Ra/Re as the composite sun god in ram form throughout the New Kingdom and in subsequent Napatan and Meroitic times. The strength of this cult was so enduring that in steadily evolving forms the Amun cult persisted in a syncretic fashion in Greek times as the god Zeus (god of sky and thunder and depicted as a bull) with his wife Hera, in Roman times as Apollo (god of fertility, flocks and herds, and sun, among others), and onward into the X-Group and Christian eras. In Christian times, metaphors, and iconography, the ram or sheep god is considered as a “hidden god” and Jesus as the “lamb of god.” The name Amun lingers on in the closing of prayers in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic tradition when one invokes his memory with the parting Amen, which has no other likely source except for ancient Egypt where Jews got their start in their Exodus. ANCHORITES. Anchorite monks were known for their “withdrawal” or retirement to remote monasteries or small cells to retreat into deep prayer to gain wisdom or reflection as early as the 3rd century CE in Europe and Palestine and in 4th-century Egypt in places such as the Saint Paul Monastery. This served to protect them from the harshest of Roman measures that were intensified against Jews and early Christians by Emperor Diocletian in 284 CE. This is when the Coptic AM calendar was initiated to commemorate the “Year of the Martyrs.” These Anchorites may relate to the Christian symbols of “anchors” or “fish,” which were drawn as a “secret” icon and means of writing X as the Greek or Coptic letter for Christ. For example, the crossbars in an anchor (a sign of hope) may represent a cross or an X. The cross itself evolved from the ancient Egyptian ankh (a sign of life) that long persisted in Coptic iconography. The first three letters of the Greek word for “fish,” Ixtheos, stand for I—Issa/Jesus; X—Christ; and Th—God. Such usages appear to date from the 3rd to 4th centuries. Modern Catholics still use a Chi Rho X P logogram to represent “Christ” “the King.” See also ARIAN CONTROVERSY; ATHANASIUS, SAINT (ca. 295–373 CE); MARK, SAINT; MIAPHYSITE; NESTORIAN.



ANUBIS, ANPU. This jackal-headed god in ancient Egyptian theogony was considered as the bailiff or watchdog in tomb scenes and during Judgment Day in the Book of the Dead. His central task was to regulate and ensure proper order as souls were being judged for the afterlife. Anubis is standard in Meroitic funerary hetep tablets. In Christian times, Anubis is reconfigured as Cerberus, the guard dog of the underworld who prevents the dead from leaving. Usually Cerberus is three headed to assist in his vigilance as “the hound of Hades.” ARABIC SOURCES. See AL-ASWANI, ABDALLAH B. AHMED B. SELIM; AL-IDRISI, ABU ABDALLAH MUHAMMAD; AL-KHUWARZMI, ABU JA’AFAR MUHAMMAD IBN MUSA (780–ca. 850 CE); AL-MAQRIZI, TAQI AL-DIN ABU AL-ABBAS (1364–1442); AL-MAS’UDI, ‘ABD AL-HASSAN IBN HUSSEIN IBN ‘ALI (896–956 CE); AL-YAQUBI, AHMED IBN ABI (?–ca. 898); IBN AL-WARDI, ABU HAFS AD-DIN ’UMAR IBN AL-MUZAFFAR, (1291–1348 CE); IBN HAWQAL, ‘ALI IBN HAWQAL AL-NASIBI. ARCHITECTURE: DOMESTIC AND FUNERARY. Burials of Nubian bishops and kings were much celebrated, and the names and dates were usually recorded for these notables. However, ordinary burials in Christian times were generally very simple with no funerary goods and only simple shrouds. Households of average citizens were also simple stone and mudbrick buildings partitioned into living, receiving, sleeping, and cooking sections. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: ARCHITECTURE. ARCHITECTURE: RELIGIOUS. Historians, theologians, architects, and archaeologists are all much fascinated by Nubian religious architecture in the medieval period. Various scholars had sought to reduce this complex topic to simple typologies and chronologies. However, these efforts have been frustrated by very substantial variations in form and function of religious structures. First of all, variations in time have tempted analysts such as Somers Clarke and the late William Y. Adams to see typological patterns in a neat, linear form such as Early, Classical, and Late, or Types O to 5 that do not always match reality except in a very general way. Structural variations by region, wealth, material, size, scale, style, and local or foreign influences often confound this sort of framework. Functional distinctions of religious structures also vary from basilicas, chapels, churches, monasteries, and tombs. Moreover, many religious centers certainly evolved over the centuries, and many were multifunctional so that generalizations become more problematic.



Within the larger religious buildings such as basilicas and cathedrals there are numerous architectural elements that vary by function. The main hall or nave is a central feature along with two side hall aisles or galleries covered by three domed arches. Only a few of the larger cathedrals used stone columns to support five domed arches. The central altar, or apse, was either fixed to the interior of the back wall or was slightly interior so priests could pass behind the apse. If this was the case, the section is termed the ambulatory. Above and behind the apse is the domed tympanum often reserved for important Christian iconography such as Jesus or Mary. To the sides of the apse were the sacristy for holy books and garments and the baptistry for water purification and baptism. Besides the apse and associated rooms, the symmetrical nave was the central axis of religious buildings. At the entrance is the narthex with either side doors or a central door for parishioners. Wooden pulpits were located in front of the apse, or “holy of holies,” which is separated by stepped or railed balustrades to make the nave distinct for parishioners, while the chancel is reserved for clergy and the choir around the altar. Transepts are found with the right and left wings at right angles to the axis of the nave in cruciform Nubian Christian churches and cathedrals. In this way, the floor plan of the building is actually cross shaped. Domed roofs were known in the Nile valley at least since the times of the Egyptian New Kingdom. Domes addressed the problem of spanning distance without wooden or metal beams. Domes came in various form ranging from semicircular, radial, or ovoidal to create barrel vaulted ceilings and roofs. Domed roofs could be single, triple, or multiple (like five) and complex. As noted the architectural form or style varied in many ways over time. Roughly the earliest religious structures in the 6th and 7th centuries CE were rather basic, small, and square. Heading toward the “classical” form, buildings were more rectalinear with three to five domed roofs, sometimes with interior stone columns. In classical times in the 8th to 12th centuries, the size grew; some were rectalinear while others were cruciform. In the declining times of the 13th to 16th centuries, buildings were again smaller and square. Architectural materials also varied. Both mud brick and fired brick were used most extensively, but local and important stone was present in the more elaborate structures. Stone columns and carved capitals of granite were common in the grand cathedrals, and sandstone also had a role in construction. Some use of stone was in lintels and jambs of doors and windows. Wood was rather scarce, but hewn palm timbers had applications in rafters, and beams in smaller buildings as were palm mats placed above them to joists, give a foundation for roofing plasters. Wood joints were sometimes found in walls of stone and mud brick. Wall plasters were used with fine sand and gypsum. Paints were made of local colored minerals, such as sandstone and ochres, charcoal, and other mixtures.



ARENSNUPHIS (GREEK); IREY-HEMES-NEFER (EGYPTIAN). This protective god, usually paired with his brother Sebiumeker, was placed in their statue form in front of Meroitic and Greco-Roman temples to guard the entrances. No doubt descended from the ancient Egyptian brother rivals Seth and Osiris, these Meroitic brother deities Arensnuphis and Sebiumeker are perhaps further reconfigured in Christian iconography as the biblical brothers of Cain and Abel. ARIAN CONTROVERSY. In Christian Nubia and Egypt, the primary theological division was over the profound disagreements of the divine nature(s) of Christ. This took place about a decade after the Donatist controversy broke out in Numidia. Moreover, when the pagan invaders of North Africa arrived in 429–439 CE, they mostly converted to Arian Christianity thereby complicating the picture still further. For sure, some of the contemporary anti-imperialist or anti-Catholic orthodoxy tensions existed in these cases. Some of the roots of this division are found among the followers of the prominent Alexandrian priest Arius (ca. 250–336 CE), from whom Arianism gains its name. The argument of Arius was that Christ was a prophet who was higher than a normal human being but that he was subordinate to a higher God, who lived before and after his son Christ. This highest God was inaccessible, ultimately unknowable, and transcendental. In fact, this conceptualization appears to be mirrored on the ancient Egyptian views of Amun, the highest and hidden deity. This outlook may also find its derivation from the slightly earlier teachings of Origen (185–254 CE) who formulated a lesser theological role for Christ in comparison to God, since Christ was “only the son of God.” Arius believed that the Holy Spirit was not divine or was, at least, at a lower level of divinity than God. National and political rivalries only underscored the theological tensions between the Ptolemaic city of Alexandria and the Roman city of Constantinople that emerged full blown in the 4th century, not to mention the general Coptic Egyptian views against the ruling orthodoxy that could even be dated back to the battle of Actium (31 BCE) when pagan Rome defeated the polytheistic Ptolemies and the regional geostrategic balance of power shifted from southeastern Mediterranean to the northeastern region of Anatolia. The “orthodox Unitarianism” of Arians believed that the Trinitarianism of Constantinople was virtual “backsliding” to polytheism and thus toward (Roman) paganism that they had rejected. When Theodosius came to power in 379, he insisted in 380–381 CE that “barbarian” Arians desist from their “heresy.” Public discussion was officially banned in 388 CE, and “paganism” was banned in 392 CE. The death penalty against “paganism” was decreed in 435 CE, and some 150 laws were passed for additional suppression of this “heresy.” Yet, local Greek and Coptic divisions persisted in a focused way for roughly a century after the



Arian controversy, despite their harsh measures. Even at the time of the Council of Orléans in 507 CE, the Arian dispute lingered on in the theological underground, and during his papacy when he brought Christianity to England, Gregory the Great (590–604 CE) was still addressing the Arian “heresy.” Thus despite these many measures, edicts and declarations of Arianism, not to mention Coptic Monophysitism, were much unresolved especially in such peripheral regions as in the Nubian Nile valley or in the Horn of Africa. Following this grand historical trajectory, this could be far more deeply rooted in the endless struggles between Mesopotamia and the Nile valley, such as the New Kingdom clashes with the Hittites and the Assyrians and Persians against the Egyptians and Nubians. At a more prosaic and recent level, perhaps too, the support for women and the Alexandrian dockworkers that was shown by Arius did not win friends within the patriarchal and orthodox church teachings. So, the Arian controversary, along with the Donatist, Monophysite, and Nestorian disputes, needs to be seen in long historical terms and as latent anti-imperial resistance to Ptolemaic Greeks and pagan or Christian Romans by the sometimes subordinated populations of Numidia, Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Christian Nubia. At first, these divisions were moderately tolerated when the adherents of early Christianity were struggling to define and assert themselves in a factionalized Roman Empire that commonly used terror and execution in repeated campaigns of persecution of nascent Christianity. In 312 CE, Constantine became the first Roman emperor to accept and tolerate various edicts and various Christian sects in the entire Roman state, with Donatists, Arians, and Dyophysites among his followers. However, this dispute was occasionally violent as followers of Arius and popes Athanasius and Alexander of Alexandria clashed over points of dogma and refused to offer communion or recognize marriages. For example, Athanasius insisted that while Christ was born, died, and was resurrected, it was God who was eternal, and if not, there was no hope for salvation. In other regions, such as Persia and Central Asia, contemporary disputes with the Nestorians (who believed that Christ was human at birth but later had divinity placed upon him) only sowed more division within the ranks of nascent Christianity that was only starting to formulate its orthodoxy. By 318 to 320 CE, Arius and his followers had become a major theological and political problem for Athanasius as well as the entire Roman Church as judged by frequent Councils called to “solve” these disputes. To resolve this contentious matter, the Council of Nicaea was convened in 325 CE. Under political direction, the bishops decided, first, that Arianism was heretical to the now-orthodox Nicaean creed and, second, its various religious spokespersons were to be excommunicated and exiled. The Nicaean



creed established the Trinitarian orthodoxy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus it was only a matter of time before the initial tolerance gave way to force and fiat. As the official church theology and now official imperial Christian state solidified, the orthodox views became emblematic of its state power. Resistance was no longer accepted. This was particularly the case among the adherents of Arianism in northern Europe and Egypt, or Donatism in Numidia. Once the orthodox Trinitarian view became even more set, this apparently minor dispute became a major fissure as the central Byzantine church held that Christ was a form of God with two “natures or aspects”— that is, a Dyophysite “nature,” not a Monophysite “nature.” Arians refused to accept this view and were exiled and declared heretical. The contentious nature was revealed again in the Council of Tyre (335 CE), which reversed the Arian exclusion and forced the orthodox Athanasius into one of many exiles. Perhaps Arius would have been reintegrated with the church in some way, but he died the night before. All became moot and even more so when Emperor Constantine I died in 337 CE. These theological debates became virtually theatrical when the three sons of Constantine all inherited portions of the stumbling empire. Constantine II was to rule the western (Nicaean) Roman Empire; Constans was to rule the Nicaean central part of the Empire of Italy and Greece; and Constantius was to rule the Arian eastern Roman Empire. It seemed that this would, more or less, keep the empire intact with each son having a part of the decentralized administration. In retrospect, this divided the Nicaeans and, relatively speaking, strengthened the Arians. To try to recalibrate, Constantine II was eliminated and thus Constans consolidated power but was soon assassinated, leaving only Constantius as the sole (Arian) ruler of the empire. This was exactly the result that was not intended, and for a time, Arians were again in ascendancy and orthodox bishops had another turn at exile. Some scholars believe that the Arian theology lingered on in the Middle East until the 7th century to welcome the arrival of the prophet Mohammad in 641 by Patriarch Cyrus of Alexandria. Cyrus, and Islam itself, considered that Muhammad was a normal human being and just a messenger of divine God as a parallel to the Arians’ belief about Christ, and parallel to the belief of Muslims about Muhammad. Certainly, the deep religious schisms within southern Mediterranean Christianity assisted the arrival of Islam in the region by failing to provide any unified opposition with its broad frustration with both pagan and early Christian Roman rule as well as expecting that Muslims would tolerate and respect Christians and Jews as ahl al-kitab (“peoples of the book”). At the time of Emperor Theodorius I (381 CE), Arianism was deeply rooted as a divisive factor between the Egyptian and Nubian churches.



Even when Arianism was finally marginalized in Byzantium, it reappeared and evolved to become the official Monophysitism of Egypt lasting until today under its own pope. Thus it continued to be the theological foundation of the church of Coptic Egypt and Christian Nubia. Efforts to reunify with the Vatican have been cordial but unsuccessful. Even the Ethiopian and Eritrean churches followed this theology but now have their own independent popes separate from the Dyophysites of Byzantium and the Trinitarians of Rome as well as the Melkite and Maronite churches of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Greek, Russian, and Ukrainian churches. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA. ARIKANKHARER. This Meroitic king (“born of the life of Ra”) ruled briefly during the second decade of the Christian era. He was one of the sons of King Natakamani and Queen Amanitore, thus also a brother of Shorkaror. He is buried in Pyramid 5 in the northern royal cemetery at Bejrawiya. This was a period that began the long slow decline of Meroë as well as the first biblical exposure to Christianity with the famed eunuch servant in the royal court as described in the Acts of the Apostles. This finally concluded with the destruction of Meroë by the new Christian kingdom of Axum in the 4th-century CE attack by King Ezana. Christianity was knocking. ARMINNA (WEST), ADOMN (MEROITIC). Arminna West was a late Meroitic and early X-Group settlement not far from Abu Simbel in Lower Nubia. It was excavated jointly by a Yale University and University of Pennsylvania expedition in the early 1960s during the Nubian salvage campaign. The Meroitic remains include ba-statues and Meroitic inscriptions on funerary offering tablets. Mud-brick graves and pyramids, pottery, and small stelae and water bowls were left on the graves. The X-Group remains are close to the Ballana assemblage and are the latest evidence of occupation in early Christian times, thus this site offers a clear transition from Meroitic times to the Christian epoch in this region in the 5th or 6th century CE. ARROWS. See BOWS AND ARROWS. ASHKEIT. Ashkeit is roughly 12 kilometers downstream from the now submerged Buhen fortress or 3 kilometers north of Argin. It is noted for Paleolithic times, but in much later times, there was a small church and Christian-related petroglyphs found in the vicinity. ASKUT ISLAND. Askut Island is located at the Saras cataract, downstream of the great Middle Kingdom fortress complex of Semna and Kumma. Askut Island was just upstream of a western bank lookout point of the Nile and



upstream of the fortress of Mirgissa. Its strategic position allowed it to relay messages from the fort at Shalfak to the fort at Mirgissa. Built on a rocky hill of the midriver island, it was easily defended and served as one of the many Middle Kingdom border forts in Nubia. Consequently, in Christian times, this strategic location hosted a small town on the same site. The University of California excavated the site during the Nubian salvage campaign. ASTABORAS. This is the classical reference used by the Greeks and Romans to refer to what is now known by the modern corruption as the Atbara River. Pliny the Elder (23–79 CE) referred to the Astaboras as a “branch of water coming out of the shade” (V[X]:52–54). This etymology is not understood, but there is speculation that asta refers to essi (waters) or boras may be a local toponym, deity, or the color black. The headwaters of the Astaboras/Atbara are with the Tekkeze River in Ethiopia that forms the modern western border between Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as the Mareb River that drains the western slope of the Eritrean highlands. The two rivers merge inside Sudan to form the Atbara River, which drains directly into the Nile. That is, it drains into the Nile when there is water as it is often totally dry, but it provides easily accessed water. The Atbara is also the riverine northern boundary of the Butana region or the “Island of Meroë” and provided an access corridor for the Christian forces of King Ezana of Axum to travel to and sack the last stages of Meroë in the first third of the 4th century CE. In much later times, during the Mahdist revolt of 1884–1898, the last stand of the Dervish military leader Mahmoud was in the dry basin of the Atbara River. ASTAPUS. The Astapus is the classical Greco-Roman reference to the Nile downstream (north) of modern Khartoum. It can be contrasted with the Astaboras (Atbara River) and the Astasobas (Blue Nile). As with the Astaboras, the asta prefix may refer to “waters,” and pus is perhaps a local toponym or deity. Assuming all is correct, the Astapus is thereby the western riverine boundary of the Butana region. The confluence of the White and Blue Niles at the Mogren and at the Mahas Nubian Tuti Island is noted on 17th-century maps. Khartoum (“the elephant’s trunk” or “hose”) is a rather modern city started as a capital only during Turkish times in 1822. ASTASOBAS. This is the classical Greco-Roman reference to the Blue Nile. As noted the prefix asta may reference the “waters” while sobas must relate to a pre-Christian settlement and river crossing at Soba that became the capital town of the Christian kingdom of Alodia of the Blue Nile. Soba was



the last Christian town to fall to the rise of the Funj Sultanas in 1504. Many blocks and bricks from the ruins of Soba were used to construct the Turkish town at Khartoum just downstream on the Blue Nile. ASWAN, SYENE, SWEN. The name of this ancient border town between Upper Egypt proper and Nubia appears to be derived from the word syene (trade) since the site is just below the first cataract and much of the trade and its protection was conducted at this location. This easily defended island and “break-of-bulk” portage location gave Aswan an enduring political, military, and economic importance as it was a critical nexus between Egypt and Nubia. Especially at flood time, there is a rocky, narrow, and deep passage of fast-moving water as well as high central terrain for temples, warehouses, and fortifications. This is true from the very earliest days in dynastic Egypt (Pepi II) when ancient trade missions of Harkuf and raiding parties would pass through Aswan and pay tribute to the famed deities Khnum, Ankqet, and Selket, known as the “trinity of Aswan.” Such Trinitarian beliefs echo onward through the millennia as well as the hermaphroditic deity Hapy that “resided” in a cavern on the island that was considered as the “source” of the Nile. More precisely, the eastern bank town of Aswan is facing the island of Elephantine, or aswanarti, and the “island of Aswan” is probably known as a place for importing ivory or for the elephantine-shaped huge granite boulders at the waterside. No period in all of Egyptian history has failed to leave its mark on Aswan and Elephantine, including Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Jews. On the western bank at Aswan, just up a sandy valley, is the Christian church and monastery complex of Deir Simon that is no longer functioning but is still largely intact. ATBARA. See ASTABORAS. ATHANASIUS, SAINT (ca. 295–373 CE). This significant bishop of Alexandria presided over the formation of and early Christianity in Nubia and Egypt at a very critical and vulnerable time. By the start of the 4th century CE, perhaps as many as half of the Egyptians were Christian (even if practicing in secret). However, the violent and extensive persecution of Christians by Diocletian in 303 CE sought to reverse this trend. But in 312 CE, Roman emperor Constantine II accepted Christianity for the entire Roman Empire. This contested religious space all took place during the life of Athanasius. Much of the life and theology of Athanasius was centered on the deep doctrinal dispute between his rival Arius (250–336 CE) and his followers such as Eusebius of Nicomedia, whose views could be said to be “Unitarian” insofar as it considered that only the universal and invisible god was divine.



This was opposed to Athanasius’s Trinitarian views—namely, that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were all divine. Athanasius argued that if Christ were not a god, then those who prayed to him would be guilty of idolatry and that Christ could not be capable of the powers of redemption. Accordingly, Athanasius attended the pivotal Council of Nicaea in 325 CE that denounced the “heresy” of Arianism. When he returned to Alexandria in 328 to become bishop, he deposed the pro-Arian bishops. In 335 CE, Athanasius attended the Council of Tyre in Phoenicia, which again tried but failed to address and resolve the Arian dispute. That he was a leading figure of the time is clear from the fact that it was Athanasius who introduced the 40-day fast of Lent in 337 CE. In 356 CE, George of Alexandria, a strong Arian, took power in that city, while Athanasius fled to refuge and exile in Upper Egypt for more than five years. Roman emperor Jovian (331–364 CE) recalled Athanasius from exile, but after two years, he again took flight, and it was only in the last seven years of his life that he was in Alexandria. Clearly this was a contentious time: after Constantine accepted Christianity, Emperor Julian “the Apostate” (330–363 CE) then sought to reverse this and return to non-Christian Roman polytheism. It was after the short life of “backsliding” Julian that Jovian came to power to restore Christianity as the state belief, which he managed to do in the short eight months of his reign (363–364 CE) before his death on the battlefield. As outlined, the views of Athanasius centered around Christ’s “divinity,” so that these early Christians themselves could find personal redemption for their human “sins” and ultimate resurrection by accepting Christ as their savior. The theology of Coptic Monophysites that prevailed in Egypt and Nubia was that Christ was divine but that he was just an aspect of God. At the time of his death in 373 CE, Athanasius was still embroiled in this dispute with the followers of Arius; however, his steadfast support for the Council of Nicaea was gaining ground in general but outside of Egypt. ATIRI ISLAND. Atiri Island is located in the Butn al-Hajr region of Nubia, just upstream (south) of Semna. It was occupied especially in late Christian times and was a substantial regional center for the production and shipment of palm fiber products, such as sandals and mats, as revealed in salvage archaeology. A small church was built in the center of the island, around which was a cluster of houses. It is speculated that the insular location and settlement configuration suggest a threatened and defensive community because of Arab incursions into the area. Many late Christian communities in Nubia were built on islands with defensive walls.



AUGUSTUS (OCTAVIAN) (r. 27 BCE–14 CE). Born as Gaius Octavius on 23 September 63 BCE, Caesar Augustus (as he became better known) was not a Christian, but his military and political successes had a great impact on Nile valley Christianity. He was the grandnephew of Julius Caesar, after whose assassination on the Ides of March (15 March 44 BCE) he sought to rule the Roman Empire at the age of 19 or 20. Without exploring all of the great intrigues and dramas of the day between Rome and Alexandria, suffice to say this would not be an easy task: Julius’s lover Queen Cleopatra VII still sat on the throne in Egypt, and her new Roman lover Antony had his own political and military ambitions. A major step in resolving this highly coveted position was at the strategic maritime battle of Actium (31 BCE) in which the upper hand finally turned to Augustus. Winning this naval engagement brought military pressure onto Antony and Cleopatra that finally resulted in their suicides and put Augustus fully in charge of the entire Roman Empire at a classical period. Augustus set about a major construction boom in Egypt, and many of these temples and buildings were turned into Christian churches in the following centuries. This was also the time of the birth (ca. 4 BCE) and death of Christ (in 30 or 33 CE). Caesar Augustus decreed the census of the Roman world that brought Jesus and his parents to Egypt. During the reign of Augustus, sustained raids and counterattacks took place against Nubian kandakes and still classical Meroitic civilization in Nubia headed by Queen Amanitore and King Natakamani (ruling from 12 BCE to 12 CE). Meroë would soon be visited by the first Christian convert as reported in the Acts of the Apostles. Clearly much was in play at this major turning point in world history. AXUM, AKSUM. Connections between the Nile valley and the Ethiopian Highlands have existed since Paleolithic times in ecological and human migrations, especially through the several connecting rivers—the Takeze, Gash, Mareb, Atbara, and Blue Nile—and the human, wildlife, and livestock migrations across the Butana and into the Gezira region. For example, the small state of D’mt (ca. 960–400 CE) along the Red Sea is considered ancestral to Axum. These connections appear in the long archaeological record before Christianity and in the historical record in Greco-Roman times such as with the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea and the role of the western coast Red Sea ports of Suakin, Adulis, Massawa, and Assab. However, it is the conversion of Axum to Christianity in the Fourth Century that it becomes central to the story of Nubian civilizations. Certainly, the Acts of the Apostles tells us of the earliest Christian in Nubia at Meroë, but how much that royal servant converted others is not clear at some time in the 1st century CE. The fleeing Falasha Jews who settled in Ethiopia in the Babylonian dispersal were an-


AYYUBID (1171–1250 CE)

other very early exposure to monotheism. The brutal repression of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, who ruled violently from 284 to 306 CE, no doubt created a number of refugees to Nubia and Ethiopia. In short, there were several earlier trends and strands to this story, but clearly the acceptance of Christianity by Roman emperor Constantine I in 312 CE brought Christianity front and center to the region. The mid-4th century missionizing efforts by Frumentius and Aedesius are usually credited in the decisions of Kings Ezana I or Ezana II to accept Christianity for the impressive and expansive state of Axum. Around this same time, the political, military, and economic rivalry between Christian Axum and polytheistic Meroë reached a climax when the armies of Ezana (Aezanes, Greek) marched down the Atbara River valley to sack and destroy a declining Meroë. According to Giovanni Vantini (1981, 29), there were two Axumite invasions of Meroë, perhaps even two Ezanas: Ezana I was a pre-Christian Axumite, and Ezana II was a Christian Axumite. Aside from the destruction of this rival state, some 9,000 cattle were seized along with 3,000 prisoners (both “Red” and “Black” Noba) who were presumably turned into slaves. Axum finally collapsed in the 8th or 9th century CE but was itself replaced by the medieval state of Damot (not to be confused with the much earlier D’mt). The historical prominence of Axum and its remarkable monumental stelae has meant that several subsequent Ethiopian kingdoms and states often incorporated Axum into their foundational mythologies. AYYUBID (1171–1250 CE). The relatively tolerant Shiite dynasty of the Muslim Fatimids was replaced by the Sunni Ayyubids who returned to intolerance and repression of Egyptian Copts and Christian Nubians. Thus, the Ayyubids played a significant transitional historical role from the relatively accommodationist Fatimids to the soldier Mamlukes who brought Nubian Christianity to an end. When Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi al-Kurdi alTikriti (Saladin) was born in 1138 CE in Kurdistan, he would become a famed non-Arab Islamic sultan of Egypt, Syria, and the Arabian Hijaz. Perhaps it was not just his leadership that allowed him to defeat the Fatimids, but the great events of the time also made the man. As the new sultan of Egypt, Salah ad-Din sent his brother Shams ad-Dawla (Turanshah) to counterattack in Nubia in 1173 after Nubians had attacked Egypt to try to forge a Crusader-Nubian alliance. Salah ad-Din’s archenemy in the Second Crusade was Raynald of Chatillon (1125–6 April 1187), and Salah ad-Din defeated him at the Levantine battle of Hattin at Galilee and had him beheaded. The Third Crusade (1189–1192 CE) followed promptly with the next opponent of Salah ad-Din, Richard the Lionheart (8 September 1157–6 April 1199 CE); he was a son of King Henry II. King Richard wanted to take back Jerusalem, which had been seized by Salah ad-Din in 1187 after the Hattin Battle. He started toward the

AYYUBID (1171–1250 CE)


Holy Land in 1190 CE and made other strategic stops in 1191 CE, and after three failed attempts to take Jerusalem from Salah ad-Din, he returned slowly to England in 1192 CE. Ironically, Salah ad-Din died only two years later in Damascus in 1193 CE. King Richard died of military wounds received in another engagement in 1199 CE. Needless to say, Christian Nubia was rooting for Raynald and King Richard, hoping for their victories, but the two defeats by Salah ad-Din certainly changed Nubian hopes to despair. Equally, the Ayyubid fears of Christians in general did nothing to improve relations with contemporary Nubian Christianity. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: MUSLIM RIVALS; KANZ AL-DAWLA; QASR IBRIM, PEDEME, PRIMIS, IBRIM, SHIMALÊ.

B BA, BA-BIRD STATUES. The belief and use of ba-figures was among the complex concepts of the soul and afterlife that were probably introduced to Nubia during the New Kingdom since no clear use of ba-figures is seen earlier in Kerma. The following 25th dynasty and Napatan and Meroitic times continued to use ba-figures. In its simplest manifestation, the ba-figure was most often in the form of a bird hovering over the scales of truth on Judgment Day. If one’s soul were favorably judged, then you might rise to eternal life in this human-headed bird form. It also became popular to have ba-figures as little humans, and especially in Meroë, this finally evolved into making stone carvings of the deceased, both men and women, with wings attached so that they could rise from the dead. The ba-statues would be placed in front of the funerary chapels attached to pyramids in Napatan and Meroitic times. It is believed that this ancient funerary concept was reborn or continued with the Christian notions of angels and birds carrying the human soul of the deceased onward toward eternal afterlife or resurrection. BAIT AL-WALI. The original location of this small, largely rock-cut temple was about 50 kilometers south of the Aswan Dam area. It is now relocated on the northwest shore of the island of New Kalabsha behind the Kalabsha temple. It was, and still is, associated with the much greater Kalabsha temple, although it is much older and rock-cut unlike the freestanding Kalabsha temple. Although both structures can be dated to the New Kingdom, the Bait al-Wali temple was built by Ramses II and was not adjusted or rebuilt by the Greco-Romans afterward, unlike the completely reconstructed Kalabsha temple. The joint effort to study and relocate this temple was supported by Egypt, Switzerland, and the United States. The increased popularity of the temple unfortunately accounts for its abuse and loss of color in wall paintings in the past century. Its original form included all standard architectural features for dynastic temples, including a pylon, entryway, small hypostyle hall, and inner sanctum. The main function of this small temple was to memorialize the god Amun for his support in successful military campaigns by Ramses II. The 31



Egyptian deities of Isis and Horus (of Buhen) are also celebrated at this temple. On the left or south side of the narrow forecourt are scenes of chariot war and a tribute of monkeys, ivory, gold, and giraffes from Nubia being presented to the viceroy of Nubia who is honored by Ramses II. Apparently, this referred to the Nubian raid led by Prince Ramses II in year 13 of the reign of his father Seti I. Ramses swiftly attacked villages of Irem and Yam (Kerma) and made off with plunder. On the right or north side are battle scenes and images of prisoners of Libyan and Asian origins. Consequently, images of conquered peoples and war scenes similar to those of Abydos and Abu Simbel may be found at Bait al-Wali. The abbreviated hypostyle hall consists of just two columns, but some of the original colors of the painted reliefs may still be seen. In the innermost sanctuary of the Bait al-Wali temple, Ramses II is not yet seated among the gods so it is presumed that this smaller temple precedes his later, more formidable Nubian works at Ed-Derr and Abu Simbel. Here, as in the Seheil Island inscriptions, Ramses shows his devotion to the Nubian trinity of Khnum, Satis, and Anukis, which suggests that a policy of fear and religious legitimization or incorporation were both parts of his relationship with Nubia. Bait al-Wali temple, like Kalabsha temple, saw use as a Christian church, at which time the depictions of Egyptian deities were likely damaged by devotees of the new state faith. BALLANA CULTURE. Ballana culture is a common referent for a regional form of the so-called X-Group culture in Lower Nubia of the period ca. 330s–600 CE—that is, the transitional period from classical Meroë to Christianity in Nubia. Other examples of the X-Group are found at Qustul, or at Tangasi in Upper Nubia. The X-Group arose in the wake of the collapse of Meroë. Perhaps they were northward-bound refugees from the defeat of Meroë under the Christian Axumite king Ezana. Such individuals sought to reoccupy Upper and Lower Nubia and thereby constitute what we now term as the X-Group. Some debate exists about the relationship between the XGroup, who are usually considered to be Noba/Nobatae (or Nubians), versus the Medjay, who were either incorporated or subjugated by the X-Group. King Karamadoye, a late X-Group king, was likely in such a relationship on the eve of the Nubian transition to Christianity. Living at the frontier between the Nubians (Nobatae) with Hellenized Roman Egypt they came under those influences, while retaining their own Nubian character. Toward the end of the Ballana horizon, additional elements of Christianity began to percolate into their art and funerary goods. One interpretation is that the King Silko inscription relates to his assertion of political control over the Ballana people, or at least over whomever was controlling Lower Nubia. Therefore, he is credited with starting Nubian Christianity. Their lack of a system of writing has provided notable limita-



tions in determining Ballana chronology. Even though immense and rich tombs are known, it is not possible to determine which belong to those kings who have known names. This post-Meroitic group came to light especially from the fieldwork and excavation of L. P. Kirwin and W. B. Emery in 1938. Many of the sites they investigated are now lost to the flood of the High Dam at Aswan. However, a rich example of the material culture of the Ballana and Qustul sites is presented at the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo. Ballana grave tumuli are noted for their lovely crowns of silver with semiprecious stones often involving crescent or horn motifs, sometimes with the survival of the atef-form or Isis-form crowns from ancient Egypt or likewise from Meroë. Such crowns are similar to that worn by King Silko. Other objects from the transitional XGroup rulers include bronze cast oil lamps, Roman glass, horse burials, and the burials of wives and/or servants associated with that king. BANGANARTI. Banganarti, or “locust island” in Old Nubian, is located across from Tangasi (site name for an X-Group horizon). Banganarti and nearby Selib on the east bank of the Nile are roughly 7 to 9 kilometers upstream of Dongola, the medieval capital of Mukurra. Prominent features are the Lower Church (Rafaelian I) and the Upper Church (Rafaelian II). Both were multi-columned rather square buildings that evolved on the site. Most remarkable are the 70 fragmentary, but striking, polychrome murals of bishops, priests, warriors, saints, the Virgin Mary, hell, and kings (such as King David) and Queen Mothers. Also are some 1,000 inscriptions in Greek and Old Nubian written on the walls. The site was used as early as Meroitic times, but major building took place in the 7th and 10th centuries and was apparently abandoned in 1350 after the Mamluke invasion. These medieval Christian sites have been excavated by a mission from the University of Warsaw led by Bogan Zerawski from 2001 to 2010. BAQT. The baqt, or pact, was a long-lasting peace treaty between Muslim Egypt and Christian Nubia. Perhaps it is the most durable of all treaties in diplomatic history since it was started in the mid-7th century CE by Muslim Abdallah Ibn Sa’id Abu Sarh in 641–642 CE and was renewed in 652 CE perhaps after Nobatia was absorbed by Mukurra and by its Christian king Zacharias. It lasted in principle until 1292 CE during the late Crusades and Mamluke attacks on Mukurra. Any original copies are lost, and it is known from the Arabic works of Ibn Hawqal, Iban Selim al-Maqrizi, Al-Mas’udi, and Qalqashandi. In these many centuries, many changes took place in Egypt and Nubia so the baqt changed its context and interpretation many times. It was a relationship between rivals sometimes focused on economic reciprocity and mutual respect of borders of Lower Nubia, and at other times, it was



characterized by mutual resistance and standoff avoidance. It was sometimes a peace treaty of détente and nonaggression, or sulh, including mutual return of rebels. At other times, it was an expression of stalemate, truce, tribute, gifts, and trade. Sometimes it was fully in force and other times seriously in arears. When it functioned “properly” it provided for the annual export of 360 or 365 Nubian slaves (servants and soldiers) and probably other traditional Nubian exports, as well as the imports from Egypt of wheat, barley, horses, cloth, other foods, and perhaps jugs of wine. There were parallel baqts with the neighboring Beja. BARSHAMBU, ‘ABD ALLAH; BARSHANBU. Following the earlier attacks by Shams ad-Dawla (in 1173 CE) and Shams ad-Din (in 1276 CE), the Christian kings of Mukurra finally failed to defeat their Muslim opponents, and more Nubians converted to Islam. Placed on the throne by Muslim sultan Qalawun, ‘Abd Allah Barshambu became the first Muslim king of Nubia, ruling from 1315 or 1316 CE to 1317 or 1319 CE. Barshambu converted the Dongola palace throne room into a mosque and inserted the marble inscription that remains there today. Apparently Barshambu was King David’s sister’s son so this matrilineal link gave him some legitimacy, but his being a Muslim was resisted by the last Christian king, Kudanbes. Given the historical significance of this transition, not to mention his status as the first Muslim king of Nubia in the early 14th century, one might think that Barshambu’s regnal dates would be better known. In these turbulent times, the conflict took another turn when the Kanz al-Dawla killed Barshambu in battle. BAYBARS, SULTAN. See SHEMAMUN, SEMAMUN, SIAMAMUN, SIMAMUN (1286–1287). BAYUDA. The Bayuda is the rocky desert plain within the large southward curving stretch of the Nubian Nile. Tracks across the Bayuda represented a shorter route between the fourth and sixth cataracts to avoid the longer and more dangerous reach of the Nile between cataracts four and five. The northern terminus of the Bayuda road led to Sanam across from Jebel Barkal. From Sanam, one could cross the Nile and begin another desert shortcut to Kerma to avoid another long diversion of Nile boat travel. The southern terminus of the Bayuda road would bring travelers far up the Nile to either the mouth of the Atbara River or further to Meroë, which served as an entry point to the eastern Butana trade routes. Control of the Bayuda track was essentially for the political and military articulation of Napata with Meroë in ancient or medieval times. Probably it carried considerable animal-born freight and lighter items that did not require travel by boats. Much of Nubian



trade to Egypt in all periods was of light luxury items such as ostrich eggs, animal skins, and incense or high-value but heavy ivory and gold. Recent excavation in the Bayuda suggests some number of way stations and wells to service the trans-Bayuda caravans. BEER AND WINE. Beer, a common alcoholic beverage, formed an important part of the diet in the ancient and medieval Nile valley. Beer was a secondary product from the staple crop of barley that was prepared in the household as well as by specialized brewers. Probably beer was first made by mashing partially baked loaves of barley bread with screened water, or by directly fermenting grains, which for Nubia was mostly millet. The resulting brew was often flavored with dates, honey, and spices and then left to ferment. Not necessarily high in alcoholic content, beer made in this fashion was an extremely nutritional dietary supplement. Nubian beers (modern merissa, “sour water”) are made with fermented millet. Since the Old Kingdom, both red and white wines had been imported to Nubia from Egypt. In the New Kingdom, and during the Napatan period, attempts were made to cultivate vines in Nubia without success. Given the insufficient local production and the cost of transport, wine was mainly a beverage for the elite. However, the drink gained in popularity with the spread of the popular “cult of the grape” during Greco-Roman times. In the late Meroitic period, dozens of winepress installations appeared at various settlements. A well-known winepress was found at Meinarti in Lower Nubia. An indoor installation, the press consists of a series of three basins arranged in descending series in a long, narrow room. Grapes were trodden in the uppermost basin, and the extracted juice flowed down a gutter into the lower basins, where fermentation took place and from which skins and amphora were filled for storage and transport. More modest winepresses were located in the open outdoors, presumably close to the vineyards. However, these presses were used for a remarkably short period of time. The hot, dry climate of Sudan was simply not suitable for viticulture. Before the end of the Meroitic period, the winepresses had been abandoned and filled with refuse but were apparently reused in Christian times that had liturgical use of wine and no prohibitions about alcohol as in Islamic times. BEJA. The Beja and related groups are members of the northern branch of Cushitic languages that belong to the Afro-Asiatic family of languages. Although generally egalitarian, the pastoral Beja have extended family or lineage heads and occasionally have moved into a political organization of regional chieftaincies or small kingdoms.



In very ancient times, the Beja might have roots in the Arabian Peninsula, but for as long as 4,000 years, the Beja and their ancestors have occupied the region between the Red Sea and the Nile. The ancient Blemmyes or Medjay are considered to be the ancestral group of the Beja. Relations among dynastic Egyptians, Kushites, and Nubians show repeated reference to trading or raiding of the Blemmyes. This dynamic was also well established in Christian times, when Beja would trade with, or raid against, settled riverine Christians. After the 7th century CE, the Medjay gradually converted to Islam and Arab social customs, and the various Beja subgroups began to emerge. In the Sudan, these groups include the Ababda (on the coast), Amarar, Bisharin (along the Nile near Atbara), Beni Amer (next to Eritrea), and Hadendowa. Echoing the ancient complexities of Beja-Nubian relations during the 19th-century Mahdist movement (led by a Danagla Nubian), some Beja were militarily active in support of the Mahdist Ansar, especially around Suakin, under the leadership of ‘Uthman Digna. Meanwhile other sections followed the Khatmiya leadership in Kassala and were opposed to the Mahdi. BELZONI, GIOVANNI BATTISTA (1778–1823). Born in Padua, Italy, Belzoni was a neophyte priest, hydraulic specialist, and adventurer. Standing at 200 centimeters (6 feet 7 inches) tall, he put his gigantic stature to use as a circus performer in magic and weight lifting. He had a great interest in exploring regions still poorly known in the 18th and early 19th centuries. After extensive travels in Europe, he finally found his way to Egypt to experiment with some irrigation designs. He had already been intrigued by Egyptian antiquities, and his knowledge of rigging and lifting devices came into use to remove some of Egypt’s great antiquities such as the huge statue of Ramses II, now at the British Museum (No. 19). He also explored the Valley of the Kings and Karnak where he liberally removed ancient objects that found their way back to European museums. As this was long before the dams at Aswan, he sailed further upstream on the Nubian Nile to try to penetrate the colossal temple at Abu Simbel. Belzoni failed on the first instance given the tremendous amount of drifted sand that had obscured the central opening but succeeded in his second trip in 1817. This made him the first in the early modern era to see inside this majestic Egyptian monument in Nubia. He was also among the first Europeans in the pre-decipherment era to reach and record elements of the Isis temple at Philae as well as the temples in Upper Egypt at Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo. He traveled to the Red Sea coast to locate the Ptolemaic port of Berenice as well as into the western desert to the Fayum and Bahariya oases. Very many of these ancient sites were transformed into Christian churches.



Belzoni’s work is recorded in several publications, but of relevance to Nubia are his Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries within the Pyramids, Temples, Tombs, and Excavations in Egypt and Nubia and the 44 plates that illustrated these travels. His methods and ethics have come to be seriously questioned over time, but he certainly managed to stir up great interest in Egypt and Nubia. He died exploring coastal West Africa in 1823. BENI KANZ. At some point in the Early Middle Ages, the Beni Kanz migrated across the Red Sea from Arabia to Upper Egypt. They became greatly mixed with the Beja people in terms of kinship, economy, and local Upper Egyptian politics. Since they controlled the pilgrimage and commercial port of Adhab on the Red Sea, it was critical to the Egyptians that they were under their control. In order to ensure this loyalty, in the early 11th century CE the Fatimids began to award them the honorary title of “state treasurer” or Kanz al-Dawla. Gradually it was assumed that a sheikh of the Beni Kanz would always hold this position, hence their name. William Adams reported that their strategic position in the early 12th century CE was such that they were a threat to the weakening Fatimids who executed the leader of the Beni Kanz. In the following Ayyubid period in 1174, a similar incident took place. Retreating further into Nubia as a result, the Beni Kanz kept their Islamic faith but also accepted the Nubian language as well as wives, house styles, and material culture. This process led to the creation of the population known today as Kenzi and Kenuz Nubians who occupy Lower Nubia all the way to Aswan. Being both Nubian and Muslim, they played a complex role in the region, especially when Muslims sought to push further into medieval Christian Nubia. Linked by Nubian culture and language, the Beni Kanz people sometimes married into the Christian Nubian communities in Nobatia and Mukurra. A particular title holder of the Kanz al-Dawla position in the 14th century CE thereby found himself again as an intermediary who was under suspicion by the Mamluke sultans of Egypt, while controlling Lower Nubia and seeking to wield power or influence in the declining and precarious decades of Nubian Christianity. The 13th-century power struggles in Dongola inevitably found the Beni Kanz propping up those they supported to further their own interests while conspiring against those other Christian kings they saw as a threat. The case of Dongola King David and his rival Shekanda is a perfect example of this dynamic situation. The complex insinuation of the Beni Kanz into Dongola politics was also apparent when the last Christian king, Kerenbes, capitulated to the first Muslim king of that town. However, the Beni Kanz opposed the Mamluke appointee, Barshambu. This was because King Kerenbes’s sister’s son was the current Kanz al-Dawla, and he would be entitled by kinship to inherit the title and thereby convert the Christian kingdom to Islam. Bar-



shambu was promptly assassinated, and the independent-minded Kanz alDawla took the throne of Dongola. The Kanz al-Dawla was soon recognized as the king of the isolated and threatened Christian kingdom of Dotawo that tried to survive in this tumultuous time and region. Kerenbes, still a captive in Cairo, was then mobilized by the Mamlukes to overthrow his nephew, the Kanz al-Dawla; Kerenbes succeeded only briefly before the Kanz al-Dawla struck back and deposed Kerenbes once again. Dismayed by this bloody infighting, the Mamlukes at last determined they could leave the Kanz al-Dawla in power in Dongola. By 1323 CE, the Christian kings of Dongola were never to rule Nubia again, although believers certainly carried on at Dotawo and the Christian kingdom of Alwa persisted until 1504. Following the now-old regional pattern, turmoil swept into Aswan. As long as the powers in Cairo or Christian Nubia were weak, the Beni Kanz could play a strong regional role. They must have added substantially to the 14th-century break in theological and political relations between the Nubian church and the Alexandrian patriarchate. Today the Kenzi people of Aswan and Lower Nubia are a constant reminder of this intriguing history, and while all are strongly Muslim they also have a very deep devotion to Nubian language and culture as well as a strong affinity to, and interest in, Sudanese Nubia. Further proof of the enduring linkages between the Beni Kanz of Aswan to Dongola is the linguistic evidence that the Nubian dialects at the extreme north and south of Nubia are more similar than either are to the Sukkot and Mahas varieties in between. BIBLE. This book is not meant to address theological debates or interpretations of the various Christian sects. It is focused on the history and evolution of Christianity in Nubia. However, some of this history requires a common understanding. The usual Bible is divided into two basic sections: the Old Testament (written before the mission of Jesus Christ) and the New Testament (written after this time). Both sections articulate with Christianity in the Nile valley. The Old Testament consists of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible that were translated from Hebrew to Greek in Ptolemaic Alexandria under Ptolemy I and, especially, Ptolemy II, who ordered their librarian Callimachus to facilitate this project. Conventionally this can be termed the Septuagint for the 70 Jewish translators so employed for this purpose. More basically, these Jewish scholars termed their work the TaNaKh, or just TNK. “Ta” standing for the Torah (including the Pentateuch or “five books”’ [really scrolls] of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy); “Na” for the Nevi’m or Prophets; and “Kh” for Ketivum or “books” or “writings” or “wisdom.” Subsequent groupings arranged these in other orders from 24 to 39, 66, or 73 books. All modern Bibles contain the Old Testament but give it various degrees of application. Philo Judaeus, a Jew born in Alexandria in 25 BCE,



undertook the mission to reconcile the Torah with the prevailing Greek philosophy that persisted even after the Romans, led by Augustus, had defeated the Ptolemies. The Nubian (“Ethiopian”) kings of 25th-dynasty Egypt are noted in the Second Book of Kings (19:8) and the First Book of Chronicles (1:8). The New Testament received its implicit endorsement by Saint Mark the Cyrenaican evangelist born in 5 CE who was martyred on 25 April 68 CE. Thereafter it was valued for its for guidance and profession of faith since it was adopted in around 100 CE by the apostles and disciples of Jesus, not to mention the martyrs who suffered grievously under Roman persecution until 312 CE under Emperor Constantine I. Most relevant for this book is the Acts of the Apostles (8:26) since this records the very first convert to Christianity in Meroë, who had been a royal slave to a Candace (queen) at the very start of the new millennium. However, state Christianity in Nubia did not start until the time of King Silko in around 536–540 CE. For Christian Nubia, the Bibles in use were written variously in Greek, Coptic, or Old Nubian. The New Testament runs from Book 1, “Matthew,” to Book 27, “Revelation to John.” The official English translation of the Bible is the King James Version (KJV) that was started in 1604 CE and completed in 1611 CE, but these early 17th-century dates were long after the mid-14th and early 16th century collapse of the three Christian kingdoms of Nubia. In the British colonial era in Sudan, the KJV was used. BIGA (SENMET). Biga Island is just south of Philae and was considered to be the “source” of the Nile and was thus an important sacred site. Its symbolic importance was enhanced by the belief that its sacred place (the Abaton) was where a portion of the body of Osiris was buried. New Kingdom graffiti by Khaemwese (son of Ramses II) on the southwest corner of Biga attests to this tradition. A cartouche of Pharaoh Apries of the 26th dynasty may also be seen on Biga as well as some mud-brick ruins of a Christian monastery on the island in the first cataract. BISHARIN, BISHARHEEN. According to tradition, this nomadic people are descended from the Blemmyes or the ancient Medjay. Occupying the border lands between Egypt and Nubia and serving more as pastoralists rather than settled agriculturists, the Bisharin variously played either a threatening, supportive, or marginal role to regional politics in the Red Sea Hills area as the larger Christian or Muslim powers of Egypt and Nubia contested for their influence or sought to subdue them.



Although of ancient origins, they expanded into their present area on the western slopes of the Red Sea hills in the 15th century and moved into the Atbara River area under a great chief, Hamad Imran, around 1760. There are two major sections, the Umm ‘Ali and the Umm Naji. They were not very active in the Mahdiyia or 20th-century national developments. BISHOP GEORGIOS. Bishop Georgios served in the Christian cathedral at Faras in Lower Nubia until his death in 1097 CE. BISHOP IESU. Bishop Iesu served in the Christian cathedral at Faras until his death in either 1170 or 1175 CE. BISHOP JOHANNES (?–1005 CE). Bishop Johannes served as the head of the Cathedral of Faras from 997 CE until his death in 1005 CE. He was buried adjacent to the exterior southeast wall of the cathedral. The style of church frescoes of this period featured polychrome painting that was much more colorful than for the previous religious art. Bishop Marianos followed Bishop Johannes. BISHOP KYROS. Bishop Kyros served in the Faras cathedral in the late 19th century CE. He is depicted in a church fresco that was salvaged and removed to Khartoum National Museum. His fresco shows the “white-style” that is attributed to Palestinian origins. His image itself is naturalistic and Nubian. BISHOP MARIANOS (?–ca. 1036 CE). Marianos fully assumed his position as bishop of Faras following the death of Bishop Johannes III, Bishop of Faras, on 21 September 1005. For reasons not known, he had been ordained in 1003 CE before he occupied the religious capital at Faras where there is a famed polychrome portrait of Bishop Marianos in the Great Cathedral. The image is now in Poland (Warsaw 234036), and it shows his round brown face and full heavy beard with embroidered bishop’s clothing and adornment. In this portrait, Bishop Marianos is standing on the right side of Mary holding Jesus, and the bishop himself is termed “the son” of Yoannes. This may have actually been the case, or it may be a general reference to his filial attitude toward Yoannes. A tombstone from Qasr Ibrim dated to 1031 or 1036 CE suggests that Bishop Marianos died there, and it seems that a space reserved for an inscription at Faras was not used. Bishops were present in Lower Nubia at Philae from as early as the mid4th century under the authority of Patriarch Athanasius (327–372 CE). In the area of Faras, some Christian iconography appears in the post-Meroitic tombs of the Ballana and Qustul cultural horizons. The official conversion



of Nubia to Monophysite (Jacobite) Christianity is customarily put at 543 CE, some decades after the Council of Chalcedon and the active missionary activities of Julian. Alternatively one might place this conversion at an earlier date of 536 CE under King Silko who may have still been ruling. Nubian Christianity at the time of Bishop Marianos needs to be contextualized as being contemporary with Fatimid Egypt (969–1171 CE). This Shiite form of Islam carried a certain degree of crusading zealotry and desire for expansion, thus Nubian Christians felt a special need for political and theological solidarity at this period. In the biography of Bishop Marianos, there is discussion that his arrival might also have signaled a shift from observing the Coptic or Monophysite to that of the Melkite (royal) official Dyophysite position held by Alexandrian Greeks. This transition may have actually occurred prior to Marianos as the Nubian church shifted from Jacobite to Melkite traditions, but scholarly debate continues on the facts and causes of this matter. BISHOP MERKI. This bishop is known from some documents found in a jar during 1964 salvage work at Qasr Ibrim. In 1464, Bishop Merki presided at the Qasr Ibrim cathedral. Bishop Merki and the small Christian enclave at Dotawo were among the last Christian holdouts in Lower Nubia. BISHOP MERKURIUS (?–1056 CE). Abba (Bishop) Merkurius served at the Faras cathedral from 1031 to 1052 CE. His portrait was painted on the wall of that building. His funerary stela notes that he was the “son of Johannes,” a former bishop of Faras. It is not clear if he was the true biological son of Bishop Johannes or if this is a devotional reference. BISHOP PETROS. The Monophysite Bishop Petros served at the Faras cathedral from 974 to 999 CE. He was buried near the church. In the second half of the 10th century, the dominant use of red and some yellow and green paints in religious paintings were the identifying colors for this short artistic period. His own face was painted a dark red brown, and he had a mustache and a tiny beard. Behind him was the protective figure of the Apostle Peter from whom he likely got his name. BISHOP TIMOTHEOS. Bishop Timotheos was consecrated in 1372 CE in Cairo as the bishop of Faras and Qasr Ibrim. It is believed that his death at Qasr Ibrim was shortly after his arrival. He is known from his north crypt burial site at Qasr Ibrim. A long iron staff topped with a cross was found upon his remains that dated to the late 14th century. These were the declining years of Christianity in Lower Nubia. Among his effects were paper scrolls



in Coptic, Greek, and Arabic that indicated his official position under the Alexandrian patriarchate. These scrolls are in the Coptic Museum in Cairo while his garments have been removed to the British Museum. BLEMMYES, BLEMYES, PELAMOS. The Blemmyes were a very early, mostly pastoral group mainly on the east bank of the Nile of Lower Nubia during the Middle and New Kingdoms through the period of the kingdom of Kush and into Greco-Roman times. Their ancient equivalent was the Matoi or Medjay people famed for their military prowess and albeit shifting allegiances. It appears that they were the same people known archaeologically as the Pan-Grave. This enigmatic group of nomads is usually identified as the ancestors of the modern Beja and Bisharin peoples. It is also believed that the X-Group may represent the archaeological remains of the Blemmyes if not the Noba. Aside from these possibilities, the only undisputed evidence of Blemmyes activity comes from classical texts written in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE. The Blemmyes’ presence in the Nile valley undoubtedly precedes the first record of their activity, but, other than the possible equivalence with the Egyptian Medjay, evidence of such is lacking. It is known from historical documents that near the height of the Meroitic period (1st century BCE–2nd century CE), the Blemmyes were attracted by the kingdom’s growing wealth and prosperity, and they became increasingly active and hostile rivals to Meroë. From the 2nd century onward, the Blemmyes conducted several raids on the settlements in Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia, particularly in the area of Aswan and Philae, which might have fallen out of strong Meroitic control by that time. Records indicate that they also participated in two failed Egyptian rebellions against Roman authority. Roman and Meroitic forces briefly combined to defend the gold mines in the eastern desert of the Dodekaschoenos from more attacks from the Blemmyes. By the 3rd century CE, the Blemmyes increasingly threatened regional trade caravans and river settlements. Their capacity for disrupting everyday life and commerce was enlarged with the introduction of the camel. Their newfound mobility and growing military power made them particularly adept at menacing the long, exposed trade route between Meroë and Roman Egypt as never before. Blemmyes incursions so seriously disrupted trade that scholars have often cited their interference as a main factor in the decline of the Meroitic Kingdom. Indeed, their constant depredations in the Dodekaschoenos resulted in Roman abandonment of this province under Diocletian in the late 3rd century CE. With the withdrawal of the Roman frontier, the Blemmyes were left in complete possession of this area, which they quickly settled. Loss of the Dodekaschoenos to the hostile Blemmyes also severed the Meroë from Roman Egypt and increased the disintegration of its former trade network along the Nile.



After the collapse of Meroë in the early 4th century CE, the Blemmyes gained complete control over the east bank of the Nile south of the Dodekaschoenos. Ballana settlements in this area were located on the West Bank, perhaps to afford some protection from the encroaching Blemmyes. Also, gold is noticeably absent from Ballana burials of this period, suggesting that the gold available in the nearby eastern desert had been inaccessible. All evidence indicates that hostility between the two coexisting peoples continued intermittently through the 4th and 5th centuries CE. By expanding their area, the Blemmyes came into conflict with the Romans in Egypt. The Romans attempted to create a buffer state in Nobatia, but the Nobatae later fought beside the Blemmyes against the Romans. Apparently in 453 CE, the Roman general Maximinus carried out an attack against Blemmyes and Nobatae peoples in order to release some Roman soldiers whom they had captured. At this time, the Blemmyes and Nobatae were still engaged in Isis worship at Philae temple. By 515 CE, there is an instance of Roman payments to the same people to ensure peace in the region. The Blemmyes did not convert readily to Christianity and in wars with the kingdom of Dongola in the 6th century CE. King Silko soundly defeated and subjugated the Blemmyes according to his inscription from Kalabsha. Those Blemmyes who surrendered were incorporated into his kingdom while those who resisted were driven out of the area for good. The Silko inscription is usually taken as the marker of the first official presence of Christianity in a Nubian state. The earlier and immediately adjacent Meroitic proclamation of the Noba king Kharamadoye, also at Kalabsha, may record another supposedly “decisive defeat” of the Blemmyes prior to Silko. When his inscription is fully understood, the historical periodization of Lower Nubia and important personages will be better known as he declared his control of the Blemmyes’ former region. As an etymological note, most Meroiticists translate pelemos as “strategos” (local military commander) following the tradition of F. L. Griffith. The obvious linguistic parallel to Blemmyes suggests that these “pelemos/strategos” may have played that administrative role, but, in fact, they were actually Blemmyes. In looking over the geographical sources where the word pelemos is inscribed, it is only in areas where Blemmyes were known to be found and active. BOATS. The history of boats along the Nubian Nile is very ancient and may have commenced with simple flotation devices such as logs but evolved in predynastic times to bundles of papyrus reeds. Such floats still persist in the Upper Nile and in Ethiopia where they are known as ambatch. Boats of Naqada times showed sickle-shaped hulls that appear to be much larger than the small ambatch type. It seems that they still lacked keels and ribs but were



likely made of hard acacia and sycamore. The rough planks were then lashed together with complex ropes and knots and with carefully made mortise and tenon joints. The hulls were then caulked to become watertight. The early Nubian or Egyptian varieties were virtually identical and showed the tall curving prow and stern that was long a style type for Nile River vessels. Images of these vessels commonly appear as petroglyphs, on painted pottery, on a stone-inscribed censer from Qustul, and as wooden or clay models. These vessels were punted, paddled, and sometimes rigged with small, square (or sometimes triangular) sails. Small cabins are sometimes depicted. The boats were without a keel or deep draft on account of the generally shallow river depth. While some boats were very small and utilitarian, others were much larger and were used for moving bulk cargoes. Still others were emblematic of pharaonic rule, especially if equipped with a cabin and throne. The use of boats and boat metaphors in funerary ritual are also of great antiquity. Boats could be used to actually transport the deceased across the river, but this became a metaphorical trip from the world of the living to the world of the dead. This symbolism continued in funerary rites in which the mummified deceased would be pulled on a boat-shaped sledge into their pyramid or rock-cut tomb. One of the very earliest depictions of hostile relations between Egypt and Nubia is drawn from the inscription of King Djer in around 2900 BCE. In this case, symbolic curved riverboats are shown attacking Lower Nubia and bringing back a captured chief hanging from the bow of Djer’s boat as he sailed victoriously back to Thebes. By the time of the Old Kingdom, more complex rowed and sailed boats appeared with planked hulls cleverly tied together. The sails were mostly, if not entirely, square rigged with a single mast. Multi-element booms and spars kept the sails taut. The sails were made from cloth or papyrus. The bigger vessels had trusses for hull stability and stays to strengthen the mast and several lines to control the booms and yardarms. Large vessels had “hogging-trusses” to prevent midship sagging; some had stepped masts to be raised or lowered, and others had special supports for the mast. The image of a boat with a sail in use was a determinative of the direction south since sails were needed to move against the Nile. Boats with sails furled indicate the direction north (with the current). In reaching Mesopotamia, where the Tigris and Euphrates flow to the south, the Egyptians were frustrated in how to reckon with this, and they said that this was a “land where the water flowed in the wrong way.” Boats were used for military transport and for carrying heavy construction stones, especially alabaster and granite as well as fine stones for royal sculpture. During his famed trip, Harkuf traveled to Nubia by donkey train but apparently, in at least one instance, he returned by boat. Papyrus floats still persisted for small-scale purposes, such as hunting and fishing. At the same



time, the Egyptians also built boats large enough for Mediterranean Sea trade, and they regularly traveled to Canaan and Phoenicia for cedar wood, purple dye, and other commodities valued in Egypt. Egyptian forts in Nubia built in the Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom made heavy use of river resupply. Vessels of 30 meters were not uncommon for major transport projects. Some were even far larger to judge from the socalled “solar boat” associated with Pharaoh Chephren at his Giza pyramid. In some cases, the channels through the first and second cataracts were deepened and improved to allow faster movement of these boats. At the Mirgissa fortress, remains of a mud-lubricated slipway were found to assist in moving vessels around the rapids. At the start of the New Kingdom, boats played an important role in transporting Egyptian troops to fight the Hyksos in the Delta. By this time, Egyptian boats were truly elegant with classic lines and excellent dovetailed joinery. High steering oars in the spoon-shaped craft along with upturned bowsprits gave these vessels a real dignity. Some could reach lengths of 30 meters and would carry 30 rowers. Also in the New Kingdom, Egyptian exploitation of Nubia required substantial use of river vessels to move troops and livestock, resupply fortresses, acquire stone and minerals, and maintain bulk commerce and communication. Among the most famed of these voyages was that undertaken by Queen Hatshepsut in her Red Sea trading expedition to Punt during the 18th dynasty. In the 20th dynasty, another depiction of large river boats appears at the Medinat Habu temple for Ramses III that shows him engaged in intense combat with the Sea-People. Rowers on these naval vessels were protected from enemy arrows by raised gunwale planks. BODY DECORATION: CICATRICES, TATTOOS. The cicatrix, sometimes called scarification, is a permanent form of body art in which the skin is scarred to produce aesthetic patterns. Cicatrices are created by simply cutting the skin with a knife or through the application of cautery. Cuts may then be medicated with charcoal in order to promote a delayed healing resulting in keloid scarring, an excessive growth of scar tissue that causes a raised pattern on the skin. The earliest archaeological evidence of the cicatrix in the Sudan is found in the C-Group (2400–1550 BCE) of Lower Nubia. Patterned markings on small, pottery female figurines have been interpreted as representing the actual decoration of women’s bodies with tattoos and scars. More concrete evidence of the practice comes from the depiction of Nubians in Egyptian art. From the 14th century BCE, reliefs from the Middle Kingdom tomb of Horemheb at Saqqara carefully indicate facial scars on certain individuals. Most have four or five lines inscribed across the forehead. Identical marks also appear on a dancer represented in the Opet Festival reliefs of the Luxor



temple as well as among the wrestlers represented in reliefs at Medinet Habu. A second type of facial cicatrix is recorded at Luxor temple. Cheek scars, three deep vertical furrows on each side of the face, are indicated on some of the Nubian captives carved on the base of colossi of Ramses II. Curiously, during the Napatan period there is no evidence of cicatrix among the Nubian rulers of the 25th dynasty. However, the practice returns in the Meroitic period toward the end of the 1st century BCE. In Meroitic art, royalty are occasionally depicted in relief sporting cicatrix. Other representations of the practice are found on small clay heads, and a number of ba-statues depict individuals with three vertical lines on the cheeks and horizontal lines on the forehead. Similar scars can also be seen on the painted faces used to adorn pottery. From the Karanog cemetery, three ceramic vessels were found painted with stylized faces, each shown with a crescent pattern, presumably a representation of cicatrix, on the forehead. Occasionally the same type of scar is referenced in Roman caricatures of Nubians. Juneval (Satyricon) lists “forehead scars” as an essential feature of an Ethiopian disguise. Some people of Nubia and Sudan continue the custom of cicatrix today, adorning their faces with a series of distinctive marks. Many modern-day Sudanese wear cicatrix identical to those representations discussed earlier in the entry. Today the arrangement of scars varies from one group to another, referring to tribal, ethnic, and other affiliations. Cicatrix may also indicate social status or signify rites of passage. Through ethnographic analogy, archaeologists interpret cicatrix to have held a similar meaning for Sudanese peoples in the past as in the present. Tattooing is a permanent form of body art in which deep layers of the skin are painted or tinted to produce aesthetic patterns. Tattooing is done by piercing or cutting the skin with a needle, thorn (acacia), sharp bone, or other such instrument, then a colorant for pigmentation is introduced in the wound. The tattoo may then be medicated with charcoal in order to promote a delayed healing resulting in keloid scarring, an excessive growth of scar tissue that causes a raised pattern on the skin. From the earliest evidence, the custom of tattooing seems to have been reserved only for women. The oldest archaeological evidence comes from the Egyptian Predynastic period (ca. 5000–2950 BCE). Patterns of tattoos on female figurines, the preservation of geometric designs on some mummies, and depiction of patterns on some women in tomb paintings all attest to the practice. Evidence of tattooing in Egypt after this period is rather sparse. In fact, the practice seems to have been spurned by the Egyptians in general. However, in the Middle Kingdom (1970–1640 BCE), the practice resurfaced as a Nubian custom. The earliest evidence of tattooing in the Sudan, roughly contemporary with the Middle Kingdom, is found in the C-Group (2400–1550 BCE) of Lower Nubia. Patterned markings on small, pottery female figurines have been interpreted as representing the actual decoration



of women’s bodies with tattoos and scars. In Egypt, the bodies of three female mummies from this period, believed to be Nubians living in Egypt, were tattooed with geometric patterns of dots and dashes. This same pattern is also tattooed on a female mummy found in the C-Group cemetery at Kubban. Indeed, some scholars maintain that the reintroduction of the custom into Egypt in the Middle Kingdom is due to influences from Nubia. By the New Kingdom (ca. 1539–1075 BCE), tattooing became firmly established as a form of Egyptian art. Still reserved exclusively for women, the patterns of dots and dashes yield to the representation of popular figures. The most common represents the god Bes, who often adorns the thighs of female figures in Egyptian art. An ostracon from the New Kingdom depicts a female dancer whose thigh is tattooed with the same design. During the period of Meroë, female mummies discovered at Aksha are also tattooed. However, these mummies are decorated with geometric designs similar to those popular among C-Group women. Tattoos, like cicatrix, may also serve to indicate social status or signify rites of passage. Some have speculated that prostitutes were tattooed, but it may simply be that the source of forced concubines was in Nubia where the practice existed quite independently. Unfortunately, little ethnographic work has been undertaken on this topic. Modern Nubian women especially from Dongola may still have three vertical scars on their cheeks and blue tattooed lips. Presumably this was the case in medieval Christian times. BOWS AND ARROWS. The evolution of the bow and arrow in Nubia is extremely ancient, coming at least in the Mesolithic period, if not as early as the Late Paleolithic period when microliths are found that were probably used as projectile points. Indeed, the common name for Nubia in the ancient Egyptian language was Ta-Setiu or “bow people.” It is not clear what Nubians called themselves. Certainly bows (pet-t in Egyptian) and arrows (aha in Egyptian) are found for all ancient Nubian horizons including A-Group, C-Group, Kerma, Medjay, Napatan, Meroitic, X-Group, and Christian and Islamic times. Until Kerma times, the bow was a simple “stave bow” with stone or bronze projectile points. During the Middle Kingdom, the role of Nubian bowmen was critical for the development of the Egyptian state. In fact, if the supposition that its founder, Mentuhotep II, was of possible Nubian origin is true, it is not surprising that the tomb models of Nubian archer-soldiers were so popular at this time. The Egyptian fortifications in Nubia at this time were carefully designed to accommodate archers safely behind narrow archer loopholes in the massive mud-brick walls that could give them a clear shot at the control defensive doorway of the fort. Bronze arrowheads were established during the Middle Kingdom and in contemporary Kerma.



The first major change in bow technology seems to have arrived in Kerma in conjunction with the innovations in military technology brought by the Hyksos (i.e., a more powerful composite bow as well as horse-drawn military chariots that carried a driver and an archer). The New Kingdom armies used a heavy military composite bow that was made by gluing or binding wood, horn, and bone together. It was slightly, or substantially, recurved for added power. Theban temple images show generous quivers mounted on war chariots and illustrations of leather body armor against incoming arrows. The bow tips were sometimes ornately carved in the form of the enemies of Egypt (i.e., Nubians, Libyans, and Asiatics). The Assyrians continued to use this weapon even until their wars with the Nubian pharaohs of the 25th dynasty in the 7th century BCE. Iron arrowheads came into widespread use in Meroitic, contemporary Greco-Roman times and thereafter. Often these arrows were barbed. At least by post-Meroitic Ballana or X-Group times, there were leather archer bracers to protect the bow-holding wrist from rubbing from the bowstring recoil. Though they have not been found in archaeological sites, it can be assumed that some form of wrist protection was used before this time since it is extremely painful when a bowstring repeatedly snaps across the forearm. Nubians also used stone archer thumb rings to protect the thumb from being cut by rapid and recurrent use. Militarily, bows and arrows were used by guards, snipers, or chariot-mounted archers, as well as in prolonged sieges of walled towns. In such cases, ranks of archers could shoot repeatedly as a group while defenders hid or used shields of reed or animal hides. The area of Libya and Nubia is still termed as kenana (the quiver) by some Islamist groups. Naturally, the bow is also one of the oldest weapons for hunting around the world with numerous independent innovations. BREITH. Breith is believed to be the brother of the Nubian god Mandulis, well known from the Kalabsha temple. Since Mandulis was a solar god, this suggests that Breith was his lunar counterpart. Fraternal deities such as Breith and Mandulis can be compared with the other fraternal Meroitic deities of Sebiumeker and Arensnuphis. These four Nubian gods are not known in ancient Egyptian theology, but the Egyptian fraternal deities of Osiris and Seth were certainly known in Nubia, thus making at least three sets of brotherly deities in Nubia. Nubian depictions of all six are concentrated in Greco-Roman and Meroitic times. In Christian times, Osiris is reborn as Jesus, and Seth is reconfigured as the devil or force of evil. Saint George is eternally struggling against the devil. Breith and Mandulis, or Sebiumeker and Arensnuphis, or Seth and Osiris are reconfigured as the fraternal pairs that may be considered as ancestral to Cain and Abel in Christian theology.

BRUCE, JAMES (1730–1794)


BRONZE TECHNOLOGY. Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper. The addition of about 5–15 percent of tin to copper gives this alloy desirable qualities, including increased hardness over copper, a lower melting point for the copper by more than 100 degrees at 15 percent tin, and better properties of liquidity that are useful for casting. Bronze could be produced by hammering, which made it substantially harder, or by casting in the lost wax process. According to A. Lucas and J. R. Harris, almost certainly bronze emerged from very early west Asian origins, and it gradually replaced copper. The earliest bronze is known to date back to perhaps as early as 3500 BCE, and it slowly entered Egypt and the Nile valley. By the 5th dynasty in the Old Kingdom, bronze was present in Egypt, but its use became much more widespread in the Middle Kingdom. Then it was used for simple implements like axes, adzes, chisels, and knives. It was also used as a bar that may have had value in commercial exchange. In the New Kingdom, bronze metallurgists became very skillful. The inventory of bronze from the Middle Kingdom was much expanded to include razors, mirrors, bowls, swords, vases, bracelets, hooks, nails, rings, arrowheads, cups, flutes, dishes, medical tools, and mummy eye settings. The introduction of bronze into Nubia was from Egypt, and especially during the Middle Kingdom, there was regular contact with Kerma, which resulted in bronze imports from Egypt but also stimulated local production at Kerma. The bronze knives and swords in Kerma military and royal tombs are a prime example, along with military fly medals, razors, and beautifully crafted bed fixtures. In Meroitic and Ballana times, the use of bronze was almost as widespread as it was for their Greco-Roman contemporaries. All of the inventory from the New Kingdom persisted with a prominence for chisels, adzes, spearpoints, and knives, with still more items added including the elegant bronze lamps and lampstands, door hinges, scissors and shears, kohl sticks, and spoons, as well as lovely decorated ware such as spouted pitchers, vases, and bowls that were sometimes inscribed with geometric patterns, Meroitic writing, and other symbols. At last bronze began to give way to iron technology a bit in the New Kingdom and in the Late period but especially during the Greco-Roman and Meroitic times when the still harder iron became the metal of choice. Iron was much valued for farming adzes and barbed arrow points. BRUCE, JAMES (1730–1794). Bruce was born in Kinnaird, Scotland, to head toward a life in the Portuguese wine business, but, as an early widower, he was drawn to the Middle East and especially to Egypt in 1768. He explored some of the extant tombs in the Valley of the Kings and visible sites in Luxor and Karnak temples. Intrigued by the information that Christian Ethiopia was the headwaters of the Atbara and Blue Nile, he passed on into



Nubia from Aswan and finally reached Axum where, some claim, he hoped to find the lost Ark of the Covenant. His precise mission remains in dispute, but he had a long stay in Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and did not return to Aswan until 1772. The account of his Travels was published in 1790 to considerable acclaim. Apparently, John Lewis Burckhardt was familiar with, and stimulated by, Bruce’s travels. BUDGE, ERNEST ALFRED THOMSON WALLIS (27 JULY 1857–23 NOVEMBER 1934). This widely controversial, prolifically published, and massively reprinted Egyptologist is probably as much disputed and praised now as he was in his own time. His scholarship has been criticized, and his means of acquiring antiquities would not be ethically accepted today. The dubious circumstances of his birth in Bodmin, England, always made him something of an outsider. His early and profound fascination with ancient Egypt drew him to the British Museum and to distinguished scholarship at Cambridge University from 1879 to 1885 when he completed his master’s degree. Noting that 1885 was the heyday of the British imperial scramble for Africa helps give the context for his approach to acquiring Egyptian antiquities. He held the position of Keeper of the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum from 1892 to 1924. Some of the criticism directed to Budge might also be directed to his official employer and his illustrious friend, Gaston Maspero; both were endlessly searching for additions to their massive and distinguished collections. Relative to ancient Nubia, Budge was involved with excavations or collections at Aswan, Gebel Barkal, Semna, and Meroë. His studies and travels in Nubia, Egypt, and Mesopotamia resulted in well over 140 books and other publications. Of special relevance to Nubian studies are his Account of Excavations at Aswan (1888); the still handy guide titled The Mummy (1894) in multiple editions and reprints; and On the Orientation of the Pyramids in the Sudan (1899). His major reference work was his eight-volume A History of Egypt from the End of the Predynastic Period to the Death of Cleopatra VII (1902). His book The Nile, Notes for Travelers in Egypt (1905) has excellent maps on the Nile including very detailed references to the antiquities and sites of all of Sudanese Nubia. Budge also wrote a two-volume work titled The Egyptian Sudan (1907). These works are still worth consulting if placed in their historical context and read with a cautious eye for some of the details. Considering the explosive advance and interest in Egyptology, this field has necessarily compelled revision of some of the chronologies, data, and interpretations first presented by Budge a century ago.



BUGDUMBASH. Bugdumbash is an ancient settlement and cemetery site located on the right bank of the Letti Basin of the Nubian Nile downstream of where Wadi Howar enters from the west. Bugdumbash is not far downstream from Old Dongola and is roughly 70 kilometers from the modern town of EdDebba near the mouth of Wadi Milk. So positioned it could control the access to these desert wadis, while having adequate basin farmlands and controlling the traffic on the Nile at the point where the S-turn of the Nile reaches its southern bend. David O’Connor believes that this may have been another settlement area of significance during the time of Kerma. Conceivably this was the site of chieftainship that was subordinated to contemporary Kerma, thus implying a greater territorial scope for Kerma itself. If Bugdumbash had this level of importance then it would be based on a heavier use of the Nile than at later times when the stretch between Kerma and Jebel Barkal was probably crossed more often by the land route known as the Maheila Road. O’Connor also believes that Bugdumbash may have been a district for New Kingdom colonial rule of that region. Future archaeological investigation may shed more light on this site and the political position it occupied. BUHEN, BOHEN, BOUN (GREEK). Buhen is at the strategic site of an Old Kingdom town and a major Middle Kingdom border fortification opposite the modern Sudanese town of Wadi Halfa. It is located just downstream of the second cataract and was favored to control troop movements, trade, and cultural interaction with Nubia. The massive rectangular layout was 170 by 160 meters. Mud-brick walls 10 meters high and almost 5 meters thick guard the fortress. The stout fortification also included a dry trench (6.5 meters deep and 8.4 meters wide). The defensive structure also had three strongly buttressed entrances toward the river and the associated dockyard, one entrance toward the west, and towers, bastions, and ramparts with archer loopholes. The structure remained in situ until the flood of Lake Nasser. Inscriptional evidence of the fortified structure dates to Senusoret I in the 12th dynasty as a rear area for his attacks as far as Argo Island. Buhen was also noted in late Middle Kingdom papyrus found at the Ramesseum in Luxor. This papyrus lists 17 forts in Nubia between Semna upstream of the second cataract and Shellal at Aswan. Buhen was clearly among the most formidable. When the Middle Kingdom disintegrated into warring factions between Thebes and the Delta, the Asian “Shepherd Kings” or Hyskos saw their opportunity for intervention. The chain of border forts fell into disuse when the Egyptians were isolated in Thebes. Then Nubians from Kerma, seeking to expand their regional control of Lower Nubia, sacked some of these imposing forts. It appears that the Hyksos were content with this relationship that would further weaken their rivals in Thebes. However, when the New Kingdom began to rise with Kamose and Ahmose, the Hyksos remaining in



Upper Egypt were only left with escape back into Nubia. When the 18th dynasty was fully established, the valuable forts of Nubia were restored and reoccupied to serve the earlier purposes. Since the New Kingdom was a colonial regime rather than a hostile border state, the districts around Buhen (Ibshek, Teh-Khet, and Iken) were deep in Egyptian territory and were very secure for religious constructions of Amenhotep II who built northern temples for Isis and Min. Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III built a southern temple for Horus. The massive fortifications of Buhen were not unusual for Middle Kingdom defensive works, and they were quite well preserved until the flood of the high dam that has entirely flooded this site. Much of the foundation and lower courses of the south temple of Buhen were removed to the Sudan National Museum where they may be studied today. The Nubian sandstone Horus temple inside Buhen’s walls was dedicated to this falcon god regarded as “the Lord of Buhen” and was the most significant Nubian monument for Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th dynasty. Some reliefs and colors are still intact and are preserved by a special metal shed that is drawn over the temple relocated in Khartoum. The inner temple should be attributed to Hatshepsut on a grid of six columns wide by eight columns long. The inner rooms include a transverse hall that opens to a sacred bark chamber and three storage rooms for temple tribute. This is not only a refined work for Hatshepsut but also reveals something of the rivalry she had with her brother and successor, Thutmose III, who systematically defaced her images and cartouches and made unique additions to the temple plan. A mud-brick wall surrounded the temple, which had an inner forecourt almost like a hypostyle hall that was clearly added by Thutmose III, with Thutmose III depicted on doorjambs built on a different axis from the inner temple. This section shows his viceroy of Kush, Nehi; the king receiving life from the gods; and his military victories over Asians in his 23rd year. During the 19th dynasty in year 2 of Ramses II, specific endowments in slaves and food were allocated to Buhen. Cartouches of 20th-dynasty pharaohs are also found at Buhen, including Ramses III, IV, and V. During the time of Taharka, other additions were made at Buhen’s northern Horus temple. Taharka is depicted on the doorways into the sacred bark chamber and on relief in the southern mud-brick enclosure wall. Settlements at Buhen are known in Ptolemaic and Meroitic times judging from ostraca, Meroitic inscriptions with numbers, and an inscribed column drum, and even during Christian Nubia. Once the ancient fortress was placed at risk from the High Dam, the south temple was removed to the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum.



BURCKHARDT, JOHN LEWIS (1784–1817). Burckhardt was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, and did formal studies in Germany and England. At Cambridge University, he learned Arabic and developed a keen interest in the Middle East, where he traveled under the Muslim name of Sheikh Ibrahim as was the popular practice among 19th-century European travelers in the region. He traveled very extensively in Egypt and Nubia from 1814 to 1817. He reported on Wadi es Sebua and Derr temples and the sociopolitical differences between Kenzi, Sukkot, and Mahas Nubians that he encountered. His pioneering work, Travels in Nubia, remains a foundation of modern Nubian historiography. His observations ranged from agriculture, dress and textiles, foods, and language to antiquities and local ethnography. He visited Abu Simbel in 1813, but it was mostly buried in sand except for the heads of Ramses. This was before Giovanni Batista Belzoni got there, and no doubt their conversations stimulated the later work of Belzoni to dig through the massive amount of sand to become the first to see inside that rock-cut structure. Importantly, Burckhardt went much farther than most European travelers had to that time, and he went at least as far as Shendi near ancient Meroë. He described the great diversity of local products in that regional market town ranging from livestock and slaves, spices, metal ware, and leather goods. At that point, the nominal Turco-Egyptian authority was meaningless, and the full Turkish military occupation of Nubia was not to take place until 1822–1823. Burckhardt died in Cairo. BUTANA. This is the region of the Sudan bounded by the Nile to the west, the Atbara River to the north and east, the Blue Nile to the south, and Lake Tana to the east. The Butana has long been a rich savanna grasslands, which supported herds of wild animals including valuable leopards and elephants in the past but is today mainly used for varying modes of pastoralism of sheep, goats, cattle, and camels, watered by wells and hafirs. This is the heartland of the ancient Meroë and the site of monuments at Bejrawiya, Ben Naqa, and Musawwarat es-Sufra. During Greco-Roman times and long thereafter, the Butana was termed the “Island of Meroë” and was depicted on maps in the tradition of Claudius Ptolemeus as actually being an island in the Nile, which is certainly not the case in actual fact. The Butana represents the continuation of an interior overland trade corridor crossing the Bayuda steppe to the west and north. Today, the Butana is an arid grassland, termed a steppe, dotted with acacia trees and traversed by several wadis, the most notable being Wadi Hawad. On average, the region receives from 10 to 60 centimeters of rain annually, with higher rainfall occurring in the extreme south. It is generally agreed that the region was considerably less arid in the past. Geologically the Butana is composed of two major formations of Nubian sandstone and a “base com-



plex” of granite—two types of stone that were regularly used in local architecture. In ancient times, the region provided no exceptional single resource such as gold. The Butana contains numerous sites dating from the Khartoum Neolithic, late Napatan, Meroitic, post-Meroitic, and Christian periods of Sudanese history. Napatan and Meroitic sites include Meroë, Musawwarat es-Sufra, and Naqa, among others. In the Christian period, the southwestern Butana is the site of the kingdom of Alwa and its capital at Soba. During the Napatan and Meroitic periods, several trade routes passed through the Butana. Perhaps the most important was an easterly continuation of the Bayuda Road along Wadi Hawad, which crossed the Butana to the Ethiopian Highlands. The late William Y. Adams has suggested (1977, 303) that this road may have been the main route traveled by the Axumite army in their proposed conquest of the Meroitic Kingdom in the 4th century CE. BUTN AL-HAJR. This Arabic term for “the belly of stones” is the general reference for the region between the second and third cataracts in Lower Nubia. Its very rocky riverbed in low water made navigation difficult, and it became a key region for the defense of ancient Egypt against Nubian attacks. Consequently, in the Old and Middle Kingdom the Butn al-Hajr was the site of a number of forts or a series of early warning stations to block or restrict Nubian military movements and trade. In early Christian times, this region was under the authority of Nobatia until it was absorbed by Mukurra. BYZANTIUM; BYZANTINE. Medieval Christianity in Nubia was essentially an episodic extension of Roman Byzantine Christianity, which officially arrived later in Nubia than in Byzantium but lasted longer than the Eastern Roman Empire. The theological and political divisions between Roman, Egyptian, and Nubian Christianity complicate this relationship. The name of Byzantium has deep historical roots back to the 7th century CE from the Greek colonist named Byzas of what was to become Chalcedon, east of the Bosporus (“in the land of the blind”). The religious Council of Chalcedon would later have great significance in Christianity. At the time of “Byzantium,” it was not termed that at all, but more simply it was “New Rome.” This history could be said to have started in 284 CE when the Emperor Diocletian (244–311 CE) took the reins of power of the Roman Empire, which was still built around a plurality of “pagan” Roman deities that had largely evolved from Greek gods and goddesses. Diocletian planned to rule through a “tetrarchy” of four junior and senior “caesars” that would decentralize political control of the empire and prepare for more orderly transfer of power, which had certainly not been the prior case. Diocletian also ruled by



scapegoating the problems of the empire by blaming the nascent Christian movement and thus “justifying” extensive pogroms against Christians and Jews during the infamous “Era of Persecution” (303–311 CE), especially in brutally crushing a revolt in Egypt that took the lives of untold thousands of believers. This “ended” in 311 CE with the Edict of Toleration of Galerius as reported by historian Eusebius. These circumstances set the stage for the rise of Emperor Constantine I (272–337 CE) and the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity during his reign of the Eastern Roman Empire from 306 to 337 CE. The contesting emperors of the eastern empire finally clashed in a military battle in Rome at the Milvian Bridge crossing the Tiber River in 312 CE. When victory against Maxentius fell to Constantine, this was credited to a vision “in this sign, you shall conquer”; the Sign of Chi-Rho “X/P” was the proclamation that “Christ was the King.” For this reason, some say that official Christianity started on this date. However, the struggle for power of the emperors continued, and another resolution, between rivals Licinius and Constantine, appears in the Edict of Milan in 313 CE that was supposed to tolerate (but not accept) Christianity for the empire. But the execution of Licinius after the battle of Chrysopolis in 324 CE near Istanbul at Chalcedon made Constantine the absolute ruler, and some use this date to start Christianity. Then Constantine could move the capital from Rome to start the construction of the new capital at Constantinople in 330 CE with the seven years of his rule still remaining. This walled and gated “city of Constantine” was much larger than the original site of 7th-century Greece. At the time, this was “New Rome”—that is, the Roman Empire without pagan deities but now devoted to Christianity. These bloody battles within the Roman leadership were followed by some effort at backsliding to paganism, but after 380 CE, Theodosius I declared that the official religion of the Roman Empire was Christianity. It never changed again, and the modern Vatican remains as its last official manifestation. The later Councils of Chalcedon and Nicaea meant that further disputes over the “correct” interpretation of the role and form of Jesus was to cause further theological and political disputes between Trinitarians, Dyophysites, Arians, and Monophysites that remain until today. With this tumultuous, divisive, and consequential history in mind, it is clear that this time was an important transitional period. Christians in Egypt, Nubia, and Ethiopia were extensions of the Byzantine Roman Empires, and all the debates and arguments in Constantinople reverberated in these other more distant regions. Art, architecture, and missionizing by Justinian I (ca. 482–565 CE) and his wife Theodora all had relationships with the Byzantine Empire. Constantine XI and Constantinople came to an end in 1453 when conquered by the Muslim Ottoman Turk Mehmet II, and the city was renamed Istanbul.



Not surprisingly the term Byzantine can refer to this epoch described here, but it can also be used as an adjective to mean “excessively convoluted and complicated” or even “conspiratorial,” “devious,” or “surreptitious.” Likewise, the term medieval can refer to this historical time from the 5th to 15th centuries, but it can also be an adjective implying anything “outdated,” “obsolete,” “primitive,” or “archaic.”

C CAESAR, JULIUS (100–44 BCE). Julius Caesar was born in Rome. He reached the position of consul of Rome in 59 BCE and from 58 to 51 BCE, he was concerned with the conquest of Gaul and Britain, as well as many other former Greek possession; he especially was interested in bringing Egypt into his empire and consolidating a border with Nubia. One of Caesar’s rivals was Pompey (106–48 BCE), the conqueror of Jerusalem in 63 BCE after the Maccabean revolt. Pompey was a formidable foe, and after Caesar, and his then ally, Antony, crossed the Rubicon River from Italy to Greece, it was inevitable that civil war between Caesar and Pompey would be the only resolution. In 49 BCE, Caesar was the military victor, but Pompey survived and was pursued to Egypt by Caesar. Pompey’s flight ended when he was killed by Lower Egyptian supporters of Ptolemy XIII in 48/47 BCE in Pelusium. This represented one of the final stages of the transformation of Greek to pagan Roman rule of Egypt. From 47 to 45 BCE, Caesar confronted the sons of Pompey and in 46 BCE, he seized Numidia in neighboring Libya. After he proclaimed himself as the emperor of Rome for life, he was assassinated in March 44 BCE, but this ushered in a civil war between Augustus and Antony. The relations with Nubia in the late Ptolemaic period were rather peaceful because of the weakness and confusion among the Ptolemies under Cleopatra VII. The foundations of Judaic monotheism were much laid in this important transitional time, and the birth of Christ at the end of the Ptolemaic period would soon add the element of nascent Christianity, and its repression, to the mix. The transition to Roman rule of Egypt and Nubia under Augustus was violently contested at many times. The Romans clearly realized that their empire was overextended, and they withdrew from much of Lower Nubia, while maintaining a presence at Aswan. During most of the times of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra VII was the most significant ruler of Egypt, so much of this period revolves around the foreign and intimate relations between these two sovereigns.




CAESARS. See AUGUSTUS (OCTAVIAN) (r. 27 BCE–14 CE); CALIGULA, GAIUS CAESAR (37–41 CE); DIOCLETIAN (ca. 244–316 CE); CAESAR, JULIUS (100–44 BCE); NERO, EMPEROR (54–68 CE). CAILLIAUD, FREDERIC (1787–1869). Cailliaud could be termed the “grandfather” of modern Nubian archaeology. He was among the earliest European scientific explorers of the Nile who also included Giovanni Belzoni, James Bruce, Louis Burckhardt, and Richard Lepsius. Cailliaud was born in Nantes, France, and was formally trained in mineralogy. He traveled to Egypt in 1815 under the authority of the Khedive Mohammed ‘Ali Pasha to seek the famed emerald mines in the region of Upper Egypt and Nubia. On this visit, he focused on the Red Sea Hills and went as far as Wadi Halfa in Nubia. He took a second trip in 1819 to the oases of the western desert of Egypt. He began his third trip in 1820 with Isma’il Pasha, the son of the Khedive. Cailliaud reached Berber in April 1821 and then appealed to go on to the ancient ruined capital and pyramids of Meroë where he arrived on 25 April. He and his French traveling companion Letorzec spent around two weeks there measuring, drawing, and surveying. He swung back to join the Egyptian army at Shendi before traveling further on the Blue Nile with a stop at the ruins of Soba in May. On his return, he stopped to map Musawwarat es-Sufra, Naqa, and perhaps Jebel Geili, making him the first modern European scientist to have done so. At Musawwarat es-Sufra and Jebel Barkal, he carefully recorded Meroitic inscriptions that he later published. The French government gave him prominent recognition for this service and for his collection of hundreds of objects of antiquarian interest. Besides the texts that he wrote, he compiled some maps of the region of Nubia that were among the earliest versions that could be considered accurate. His major works relevant to Nubia include Voyage to Meroë, au fleuve Blanc au dela de Fazoql, dans le midi du royaume de Sennar . . . and his huge fourvolume work with three folio texts titled Recherches sur les arts et métiers, les usages de la vie civile et domestique des anciens peuples de l’Égypte, de la Nubie et de Éthiopie. . . . CALENDARS AND CHRONOLOGY. The topic of calendrical reckoning and chronology is both very ancient and complex. The ancient peoples of the Nile had great reverence for the sky-goddess Nut. Her association with the moon and stars appears at very early times. Their close association with nature made the inhabitants along the Nile keen observers of the sun, moon, and stars. Solar or stellar sighting devices were known from as early as the Archaic period.



In calendrical calculations, only some dates can be absolutely fixed. This requires a known astronomical event such as the Sothic (Sopdu, or Dog) star that appears on 19 July at the dawn horizon. This was usually at about the time of the annual inundation. Any faulty calendar could be annually reset to this benchmark day. On the other hand, uncorrected calendars would be brought back into alignment every 1,456 years of the Sothic cycle. This could provide an additional fixed reference point (at a fixed latitude), for chronologists who could reset their primary reference to it at, for example, 2773 BCE, 1317 BCE, 139 CE, or 1595 CE. Despite a persistent lack of precision in earlier times, one may assume that after 664 BCE (the end of the reign of Taharka, or the start of Psammetichos I), the dates become quite reliable as they precisely correlate with historical observations of the Sothic star as well as with correlations to events external to the Nile valley in an unbroken record thereafter. Before that time, the king lists are helpful for a given reign, but the endless restarting of the calendar leaves many earlier periods quite sketchy. As noted by the vital Sothic star, the Egyptian and Nubian reckoning was solar, lunar, or stellar in varying circumstances. Solar reckoning (borrowed from Mesopotamia) provided 12 months of 30 days with periodic adjustments to get the calendar back on schedule once again after losing time by five and one-quarter days per year. They also had a notion of a 24-hour day perhaps from the same sources. As early as the fifth millennium BCE, this calendar was being worked out and crosschecked with Nilometers that carefully measured seasonal floods of the Nile and astronomical observations. Lunar calculations in ancient Egypt were based on a calendar of 12 months each having three 10-day workweeks or 30 days. Four of these months, (i.e., 120 days) composed a season, and there were three seasons for each year. This began with the flood season (akhet), then the planting and growing season (peret), and finally the harvesting and fallowing season (shemu). As the shortfall of five and one-quarter days per year accumulated, seasonal events would be held at an inappropriate time of the year. So corrections were made to add five additional days (epagomenal days) to worship five deities and make up the deficiency in the calendar. Otherwise the steady accumulation of uncorrected dates would finally have the winter season in official summer months and so forth. This adjustment slowed the repetitive error but did not correct it. Variants of this lunar system were used by the Greeks and still appear with Muslims and Ethiopians. Measured candles, water clocks (clepsydras), sundials (gnomons), and hourglasses were used to measure the daily passage of time. A comet, planetary motion, exceptional flood or drought season, or corroboration with a parallel known historical event can all assist the chronologist. The use of fixed dates that is possible by dendrochronology (absolute dates by tree growth rings) is little used in Egypt because of the great length



of dynastic times and conditions promoting seasonal wood growth are not ideal. Dating by numismatic records is also limited in ancient Nubia or Egypt as coinage did not arrive until the Ptolemaic period in the 4th century BCE. Cartouches and cylinder seals are helpful but are also imperfect given the popularity of some names long after that king had died. All together, the circumstances promoting fixed dating in Egypt and Nubia are not often met. Often dates are determined with reference to the coronation and regnal years of a given pharaoh, or lists of successive kings. The most important king list is that developed by Manetho (323–245 BCE), an Egyptian priest residing at the Delta temple of Sebennytos during the reigns of Ptolemy I and II. Manetho published his findings in his book Aegyptiaca. The original has long been lost, but it is from Manetho that the approximate sequence of 30 Egyptian dynasties is still known. One may never be sure about intervening but missing rulers. There are several famed sources of king lists. These include the Royal List of 58 kings ordered by Ramses II for Sakkara from the 1st to the 20th dynasties with some omissions. The papyrus or Canon of Turin, also compiled at the time of Ramses II, is very comprehensive as it was written in the New Kingdom; sadly it is also very fragmentary. In some cases, it offers regnal dates to the months and days. The list of 80 kings at Abydos is quite lovely in its presentation but has numerous deliberate omissions. To this can be added the list from the Palermo stone. The Karnak list attributed to Tuthmosis III gives the names for 62 kings. Other classical writers such as Josephus and Eusebius added more data to Egyptian chronology. So we can be fairly sure of the sequence of kings, but we also know that much can be missing from this account. When the Egyptian and Nubian interaction was close, one gains a measure of the Nubian record with reference to Egyptian chronology. Chronology developed archaeologically provides relative dates determined by stratification, measures of radioactive decay, or stylistic and architectural sequences. These are useful to get material assemblages in the correct order, but it is more difficult to assign precise beginning and ending dates. Annual events such as the Opet festival or funerary rituals also had specific temporal sequences. Consequently the work on chronology may be considered as generally accurate, but in most cases, it is still a work in progress for more refined dates. The essential problem of chronology is that the written record is not consistent or continuous. In Egypt and Nubia, there are instances where one may correlate specific named seasons or dates to specific pharaohs or dynasties with a great sense of confidence; at other times, the written records fall into obscurity. Hieroglyphic and demotic number systems are generally well understood, although Meroitic numbers are not fully translated. The Ptolemaic Greeks were hugely influenced by their three centuries in Egypt where they configured the leap year to correct for the weakness in their calendar. In 47 BCE, as their era was closing, the Greeks officially



introduced the better Egyptian calendar to Rome, with a strange “catch-up” year inserted with 445 days. The Greek calendar had 12 named months with intercalary or corrective months inserted to keep the calendar on time. Other Greek adjustments were made to set the schedule for the Olympian games beginning in 776 BCE, and in 432 BCE, the Greek astronomer Meton created a 19-year cycle with seven intercalary months. The older Roman calendar was based on 10 months named for important deities and numbers. The later Julian modification of the Roman calendar still has the same nomenclature but with 12 months after inserting the two additional months named for Julius Caesar and Augustus. We now face the odd circumstance that September (literally, the seventh [sept] month) is the ninth month of the year and December (literally, the 10th [decem] month) is the 12th month. Since Jews play an important role in the Nile valley, it can be noted that their calendar begins in the sixth millennium. For example, the year 2001 is equivalent to around 5761 in the Jewish calendar. The Semitic roots of this calendar persist today with a seven-day week having the Sabbath (from the Hebrew seven) take place on the last weekday. The Jewish and Muslim calendars are both lunar, but the Jewish calendar also has a solar reference as well. After the Roman emperor Constantine accepted Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century CE, the calendar shifted again. The modern Christian (Gregorian) solar calendar begins with Pope Gregory XIII’s corrective effort of 1584 (or 1582) that is now current. The breakaway Monophysite Copts of Egypt and Nubia still use their AM calendar (Year of the Martyrs), which starts on 29 August 284 CE. In the 7th century CE, the AH (Year of the Hegira) was adopted by Muslims. The Hegira refers to the “flight,” in 622 CE, of the Prophet Muhammad (570–632 CE) from Mecca to Medina. CALIGULA, GAIUS CAESAR (37–41 CE). The Roman emperor Caligula was the successor and grandnephew of Tiberius. His bizarre and brief rule was terminated in assassination by his own powerful Praetorian guards. In the Nile valley, his mad reign was expressed during a vulnerable formative period for regional Christianity and established Jews in Egypt. Meanwhile Caligula ordered the Temple of Jerusalem to be transformed into a Roman temple with his own statue installed. Since this was still early in Roman rule, the local Greeks still had a lingering sense of Ptolemaic nationalism. With Jews feeling threatened and some Greeks believing that the Jews were too sympathetic to Roman rule, and Caligula nervous about both, the Romans turned to destruction of synagogues, looting and rioting that culminated in the Jewish pogrom of 38 CE. Some Egyptian Jews fled into Delta towns for security, and the famed Christian apostle and martyr Saint Marc reached Alexandria in 40 CE. The important Jewish citizen of Alexandria, Philon, appealed to Caligula in the


CALLIMACHUS (CA. 310/305–240 BCE)

same year saying that he accepted Roman rule but simply wanted the privilege of Jewish worship. Herein, some scholars see the early rise of Jewish secularism. Although the identity “Christian” was only in formation at the time of Caligula, it is possible that the first Jewish converts to Christianity made their way to Meroë during this time. Caligula did order an addition to the hypostyle hall at the Kalabsha temple in Nubia. His assassination in 41 CE was widely celebrated and allowed the reestablishment of a more orderly Roman republic. Regional Jews and early Christians believed that his murder was just revenge for the brutality that they had experienced under Caligula only three years earlier. CALLIMACHUS (ca. 310/305–240 BCE). Callimachus was born in the Greek colony of Cyrene in Libya but moved to Alexandria. He was a prominent poet and writer, but he was most renowned for his leading role as a cataloger and librarian of the great library of Alexandria established by Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II. Callimachus was central in creating this huge and significant archive of ancient classics built from collections, translations into Greek, and documents in other foreign languages. His most important contribution was a 120-volume catalog of the library. Perhaps this lost library held works in Meroitic, and it may have stimulated the creation of this first written form of the ancient Nubian language. His work continued with the librarian-geographer Eratosthenes. From the perspective of Judeo-Christianity, this was the same very significant period in which the Septuagint translation took place in rendering the Torah or Pentateuch from Hebrew to Greek. CAMEL-HERDING ARABS. There are two large camel-herding groups in the Sudan. Camels may have first appeared in the region in Persian times and were widely used in the desert and steppe regions thereafter. One of the camel-herding groups is descended from the Blemmyes and the related groups of Medjay, Pan-Grave, Beja, and Bisharin people who were autochthonous in the region. Christian Nubia made heavy use of camels as they have long been used by the inhabitants of the region east of the Nubian Nile and in the Red Sea Hills of Egypt and the Sudan. The other camel-herding group, the Juhayna Arabs of the Sudan, includes the Kababish, Hamar, Shayqiya, Shukriya, and Dubania. They range, in their respective territories and watering places, in the eastern Butana, in parts of the Bayuda steppe, and in northern Darfur and Kordofan. The Muslim Arab camel herders probably increased with the end of Christianity. See also CATTLE-HERDING ARABS.



CANDACE, KANDAKE, KADAKE, KDI-QO. The term kadake is probably the original form of this Meroitic title that was generically applied to regnant queens and perhaps others not regnant. It is possible that it is derived from the Meroitic kdi-qo, which could be translated as “royal woman.” The Greeks inserted their version of a more euphonious variant form that has been transmitted as kandake, which was subsequently Latinized as candace and is even used as a Christian name in modern times. Among the more prominent kadakes of Meroë were Amanishakete and Amanitore. CARACALLA (211–217 CE). Caracalla became emperor of Rome in 211 CE following Septimius Severus. By the time of Caracalla, most of the Roman Empire had been assembled from conquered and subjugated territories, such as Egypt and the Lower Nubian borderlands. In order to increase colonial revenue, he converted the inhabitants of these provinces into citizens of Rome in 212 CE so they could face burdensome taxes. Ruthlessness in administration, a powerful military, and secret service kept Caracalla in power, but his unchecked expenditures resulted in severe inflation by 215 CE and his murder in 217 CE. CATARACTS (SHALLAL). Cataracts are simply the general name for rocky outcroppings or rapids in the Nile. The six Nile cataracts have often proved to be important points for break of bulk in economic relations or for the construction of military fortifications as the rival Egyptian and Nubian empires rose and fell. The first cataract is located at Aswan in Egypt. It is commonly recognized as the ancient and modern border between Nubia and Egypt, although today it is wholly within the territory of modern Egypt. The second cataract was the usual boundary between Nubia and Egypt in the Old and Middle Kingdoms, and it was heavily fortified at these times. Although the second cataract is now lost under Lake Nasser, it is essentially at the modern border between Egypt and Sudan, just south of the Tropic of Capricorn. The reach of the Nile between the second and third cataracts is usually termed the Butn al-Hajar, or “Belly of Stones,” since it was a particularly problematic stretch for navigation. The third cataract provided the frontier between Middle Kingdom Egypt and Kerma, or Yam, which lay just upstream of this point. Discussion is presently taking place to introduce still another Nubian dam at Kajbar in this vicinity. Above the third cataract are located the townsites of ancient and modern Dongola as well as the periodic watercourse known as the Wadi Howar. The fourth cataract is something less of a political boundary, except during the New Kingdom. The major Nubian site at Napata is situated just downstream of this cataract. Since the Nile sweeps to the north at this point, it was



common to bypass this cataract and the region between the fourth and fifth cataracts. By crossing the Bayuda plain to the southeast on foot or with beasts of burden, one could reach upstream and cross back to the Nile at ancient Meroë. This town rested strategically between the fifth and sixth cataracts on the Nile borders between the Bayuda and Butana steppelands. This region has long been termed the “Island of Meroë” or the Butana plain. The sixth cataract, or Sabaluka Gorge, was usually bypassed by terrestrial travel but is navigable by deep draft vessels at flood seasons. It lies just north or downstream of the confluence of the White and Blue Niles at modern Khartoum. Until one exits the Sudan into Ethiopia there are no further natural obstacles on the Blue Nile. On the White Nile, this is also the case until one reaches the vast Sudd swamplands, which were an impenetrable barrier for exploration until the 19th century. CATTLE-HERDING ARABS. Cattle herding is an extremely ancient pastoral mode of production in Egypt and Nubia. The early presence of cattle is closely intertwined with state formation, and as more cattle were raised in Egypt and raided for in Nubia, the appetite only grew. Key deities and the pharaoh himself were associated with cattle. Among the first historical record of interaction between Egypt and Nubia, cattle are prominent. Cattle were also central in the economy of the C-Group of Lower Nubia. In the New Kingdom, the common reference to Nubian cattlemen was Menti, but their precise location remains to be determined. Cattle can be grazed and herded along the immediate Nile banks or irrigated flood plains or in the savanna grasslands, but not in the desert regions. Clearly cattle remained important in Christian times for domestic consumption and export to Egypt. See also AGRICULTURE; CAMEL-HERDING ARABS; CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: RELIGIOUS SCHISMS; MIAPHYSITE. CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA. See CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: ARCHITECTURE; CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: EGYPTIAN LINK; CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: FORMATIVE PERIOD; CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: MISSIONARY PERIOD; CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: MUSLIM RIVALS; CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: PERIOD OF DECLINE; CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: RELIGIOUS SCHISMS. CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: ARCHITECTURE. Naturally, an important feature of any religion is its architecture, and the long evolution of Christianity in Nubia reveals many trends and styles. It is essential to recognize that, as with much of Nubian history, there are features that range from the unique to diffused and syncretic traditions. As well there has been a very long historical evolution in art, iconography, and architecture in addition to build-



ings that were reused for purposes not originally intended. Moreover, very many religious structures in Nubia were periodically modernized, replaced, and rebuilt. For these reasons, the now specialized field of study of Christian architecture in Nubia is particularly complex and sometimes controversial in interpretation. With this proviso, this history begins with the examples of Christian churches of Abu Odda, Amada, Aksha, Kalabsha, Philae, Qasr Ibrim, and Wadi es Sebua, which were inherited from structures in dynastic or GrecoRoman times and were plastered over to accommodate new images. Often this involved some redesign, conversion, or modest reorientation of internal temple features, including inserting a holy altar and baptismal fonts, retrofitting the apse, defacing of pharaonic icons, or carving of crosses and other forms of reuse or rehabilitation of existing buildings. Storage rooms and clerical chambers continued to be at the innermost or holiest portions of the churches as they had been with pharaonic temples. Once new buildings were constructed for Christian purposes, the architectural inheritance from ancient Egypt persisted in the longitudinal axis described in the work of P. M. Gartkiewicz. From these times, the use of Roman-inspired arches for doorways, windows, and apses begins its long involvement with Christian Nubia. This innovation was central in spanning distances with brick vaulted ceilings in a more dramatic and open manner. Vaulted ceilings especially began to allow for expansive multi-columned naves for the congregations in the square basilica-type floor plan, such as the Church of Stone Pavement in Old Dongola, which had abandoned the side entrance previously more common. By the 7th century and later, influences from the early Armenian and Antiochian church began to reach Nubia in the introduction and merging of biaxial simplified cruciform floor patterns. These were seen in the so-called Church of Granite Columns in Old Dongola, and the possible Sai Cathedral, as well as Paulos Cathedral at Faras or the Great Cathedral at Qasr Ibrim. The cruciform pattern was much elaborated in the 38-Meter Church (or Mausoleum) of the Martyrs also in Old Dongola, or in the church of Saint Simeon at Aswan standing at more than 90 meters high. The use of prominent central domes and crosses, with simplified cruciform shape, appears to have arrived still later under Byzantine influences and was featured at the small churches or chapels at ‘Abd al-Qadir, Adindan (Faras East), Figirantawu, Naqa elAqba, Nuri, Qasr Ibrim, Al-Ramal, Serra, Sheima Amalika, Sonqi Tino, and Tamit. Smaller, uniaxial Nubian churches persisted through Nubian Christian times for monasteries such as those at Abu Ghazali, the first church at Faras, Kageras, the Old Church at Qasr Ibrim, and Qasr el-Wizz. Iconographic mural images from Christian Nubia were common to most of the churches. Many were utterly lost as mud-brick structures deteriorated, but some elements remain from Lower Nubian sites at Abdallah Nirqi and Abu



al-Odda. Wall paintings refitted into the Rameside Temple of Wadi as-Sebua have also been saved. These have been recovered in the Nubian salvage campaign of 1960–1971. Nubian wall paintings usually have more subtle color combinations than those of the Egyptian Copts, but they are all from the Byzantine style in general. Large, staring eyes are also common to Nubian church iconography along with skin tones that are Nubian, rather than Egyptian, in appearance. Egyptian Coptic materials are very well represented at the Coptic Museum in Cairo and in the Nubian Museum in Aswan. Nubian Christianity is well illustrated at the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum and at the National Museum in Warsaw, Poland. This is the result of the extensive Polish excavations led by Kazimierz Michalowski in 1961–1964, especially at the Faras cathedral, which is now submerged under Lake Nubia or Lake Nasser. Among the many frescoes is a lovely mural of the birth of Christ that shows Mary on her birthing bed, along with angels and the three horsemen nearby. Also found there are images of Saint Anna; Saint Mary with a Nubian bishop; Nubian bishop Marianus with Mary and Jesus; Nubian bishop Petros with the Apostle Peter; angels; and “Three Youths in a Furnace.” Other Christian iconography and architectural features are also known. The most accessible monastery of Lower Nubia that is still in situ is that of Saint Simeon in the western desert at Aswan. The abandoned site appears to have been initiated in the 5th century CE, or even earlier when it may have been a Roman fortress for the region. This structure mostly dates to the 7th century CE and later. Some reconstruction took place in the 10th century, and it was finally abandoned in the 13th century for reasons that are not clear. It has huge defensive walls, corner towers for observation, and an internal water supply as well as facilities for food production, dining, sleeping cells, chapels, and monastic life. Large-scale religious celebrations were held in a grand arched hall where some of the original painting still exists. CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: EGYPTIAN LINK. Once trained, these early Christian adherents returned to proselytize in their own lands. The Christian population of Egypt is estimated to have reached as many as one million by this time. After the religious vision of Roman emperor Constantine, as a result of his military victory at Milvian Bridge in 312 CE, he accepted Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. The liberal Edict of Milan (313 CE) underscored his tolerant views that enabled Christianity to spread more widely in Nubia and elsewhere such as the Donatist church of Numidia. Yet, the way ahead would not be easy. The Church of the Forty Martyrs in Wadi Natrun, Egypt, commemorates the test of faith of Christians in 313 CE. The early Christian converts in Armenia were tortured if they would not renounce their new faith. However, the first Christian basilica in Rome was under construction from 313 to 322 CE.



Increased missionary activity from Egypt is recorded for 324 CE in Nubia. This represented a “pincer movement” as this mission was synchronized with the Axumite king Ezana of Ethiopia entering and destroying the remnants of the “Noba” at Meroë and the “Red Noba” farther north. During the same period, Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria ordained the Ethiopian church. Thus the collapse of Meroitic polytheism and the rise of state Christendom in Egypt and Ethiopia created a religious vacuum into which the missionary activities could begin to take place throughout the entire Nile and Blue Nile valleys. The X-Group or Ballana and Qustul period in Lower Nubia (or Tanqasi culture of Upper Nubia) was the first to fill this void with a preChristian syncretic blend of Egyptian, Kushitic, Meroitic, Greco-Roman, and Nubian beliefs, practices, and architecture from around 350 to 550 CE. The presence of this early Christian influence is certainly illustrated in X-Group grave goods including crosses and other icons. This transitional period also featured intense rivalries and military attacks against these settled people in Lower Nubia by the seminomadic Blemmyes who were long accustomed to such a role. CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: FORMATIVE PERIOD. Convention has it that Christ was born on 25 December 4 BCE in Bethlehem under King Herod during the reign of Caesar Augustus. Others calculate it was 7 or 6 BCE when he was born. Fearing Roman taxes and an edict to put Jewish children to death, Christ and his parents are believed to have fled to Gaza and AlArish, Egypt, as noted in Matthew (2:13–23). They were said to return to Judea after the death of Herod, which was in about 4 BCE. With the ambiguity and imprecision of these dates, one may only say that Jesus was as young as a newborn when arriving in Egypt to an age of three or so when returning from Egypt. During this flight to Egypt, they went on to Pelusium in the eastern Egyptian delta then under the authority of Prefect Gaius Tyranus. They continued on to Kanatir, Saft al-Henna, Tel Basta (near Zagazig), and Samanoud, and finally crossed to the Rosetta branch of the Nile in the western delta. From there, they traveled south to the Jewish village at Leontopolis, where they rested under a famed sycamore tree. This journey continued through Roman Old Cairo then called Babylon and on to another Jewish synagogue at Ma’adi south of Cairo, where they boarded a small boat to go to Upper Egypt. Along the way, they again stopped at various places for food and rest that are today considered pilgrimage sites. The southernmost points they reached included Beni Hassan, Minya, and Ashmuneim, Hermopolis, and Dairut to Assiut where they stayed for about six months. At their most southerly point in Upper Egypt, a church was later built and is now known as Deir al-Muharaka (Monastery of the Flight). A church was likely built there in 70 CE, although



the present structure dates to a later time. With these deep roots of Christianity in the Nile, Nubian, Egyptian, and Ethiopian Copts have all been attracted to these locations as important pilgrimage sites. This early period of Christianity in the Nile valley also includes the apostle Mark, who was born in Cyrene in Libya a few years after the birth of Christ. It was in the house of Mark that Jesus reportedly held the Last Supper with his disciples. According to Coptic history, after the crucifixion of Jesus in 30 CE Mark returned to Alexandria where he built the first Christian church in Egypt and ordained a bishop, three priests, and seven deacons in about 44 CE. It was in this Greco-Roman city that Mark started writing his Gospels, the first of the Four Gospels, in 49 CE. Among his followers in this first church school was Athanasius. As the popularity of Christianity began to grow, it opposed and threatened Roman paganism. After Mark was killed by an Alexandrian mob, he became a much venerated Egyptian Coptic martyr. The first Nubian convert to Christianity may be the case of the official of Meroë who was exposed to it in about 37 CE. As noted in the Acts of the Apostles (8: 27–39), a ranking eunuch of “Candace queen of the Ethiopians” was converted to Christianity under the teachings of the prophet Esaias and was baptized in this faith by church deacon Philip. If the chronology is correct for Meroë, this may have been during the reigns of Pisakar or Amanitaraqide. Presumably this anonymous royal eunuch of Meroë returned home, but as a solitary or rare devotee. There is no record of others who might have followed this faith at such an early date at this Nubian city. It was not until the disciple Saint Mark returned to Egypt from 61 to 65 CE, during the reign of Nero, that one may say that Coptic (Orthodox Egyptian) Christianity reached the Nile in a more institutionalized fashion. Mark had been born as a Jew in Pentapolis, Cyrenaica (Libya), but he had received a strong religious education that attracted him to the new Christian faith. It was during these perilous early decades under such repressive Roman emperors as Caligula, Claudius, and Nero that the gospel was first introduced, especially in Alexandria. Saint Mark was savagely martyred on 8 May 68 CE on Easter Monday after being dragged through Alexandria by a mob of Roman soldiers. His body was removed to Italy in the 9th century, but a few revered relics were returned to Egypt in 1968. By the first half of the second century, some Coptic language fragments of the Gospel of Saint John are known in Upper Egypt. By the late second century, some small numbers of Christian adherents were found in parts of Upper and Middle Egypt. In 180 CE, the Catechetical Church-School (Didascaleion) was founded in Alexandria by Pantaenus to study religion, philosophy, and ethics as well as the sciences they had inherited from the Ptolemies and Romans.



But Coptic Christians, often converted Jews, suffered tremendously from religious and political persecution under the Romans in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, particularly under the rulers Septimius Severus (193–211 CE), Decius (249–251 CE), and Valerian (253–260 CE). Septimius Severus actually visited Egypt from 199 to 200 CE, and his Edict of 204 prohibited Romans from accepting Christianity. Despite this persistent repression, Patriarch Dionysius actively sought more Egyptian converts to Christianity from 247 to 264 CE. His work resulted in a period of major conversions of Egyptians to this faith. Coptic monasticism in the eastern desert developed especially at this time under Saint Paul (228–343 CE) and Saint Anthony the Great (251–356 CE). Further percolation of Christianity into Nubia took place from about 260 to 300 CE. An unintended result of this success took place during the reign of Diocletian (284–304 CE), who was increasingly fearful of this rival religion to Roman polytheism. The very foundation of the Coptic calendar, “The Calendar of Martyrs” (AM), is put at 29 August 284 CE to commemorate those who died during the start of the particularly repressive reign of Diocletian. Diocletian used Christians as easy scapegoats for his perceived threats to the division of the Roman Empire into eastern and western sections. Thus he began a reign of terror against Christians, their books, and their property. But in 297 CE, Diocletian withdrew from Hiera Sycaminos (“holy sycamores,” Maharaqa) to Aswan, ending the Roman dominance of Lower Nubia. The repression by Diocletian against Egyptian Christians in 302 CE is said to have taken hundreds of thousands of lives. Christians in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries, such as Saint Anthony, were often struggling to survive in isolated desert retreats, caves, and monasteries. Saint Makarius and Saint Ammon (followers of Saint Anthony) spread the monastic Gospel into the western desert, especially at Wadi Natrun, where the monasteries of the Holy Virgin and of Saint John Kame (John the Black) at Deir al-Sourian may be seen today. On the eastern desert of the Sinai, Saint Catherine’s monastery and basilica, dating to the 6th century, still stand today. Additional Christian disciples of this “secret religion” were drawn from throughout the eastern Mediterranean, Armenia, and Nubia (“Ethiopia”) in the 3rd century CE. In the 5th century CE, Egyptian churches dedicated to Saint Sergius (Abu Serga) and Saint Barbara were constructed to memorialize these early Christian martyrs. CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: MISSIONARY PERIOD. Thus the seeds of the Christian kingdoms of Nubia were germinated in Egypt but were transplanted to Nubia between 350–550 CE with the formation of the kingdoms of Nobatia, Mukurra, and Alwa. At its height, Nubian Christianity would connect the Alexandrian church with its Nubian affiliates and finally reach deep into the heartland of Ethiopia where it still remains. With the Roman



Empire in collapse and active retreat, a political and religious alliance was established by 524 CE between Copts in Egypt and the Axumites in Ethiopia. Blemmye and Nobatian mercenaries also saw action in Yemen in support of Axumite ambitions there. When Emperor Justinian (527–565 CE) and Empress Theodora came to rule Byzantium, this movement gained even greater force, while taking an odd turn in the royal family. The history of Nubian Christianity as written by Giovanni Vantini notes that Justinian, as the emperor, naturally favored the Chalcedonian (Melkite) perspective on this simmering religious debate. Remarkably, his independent-minded Egyptian-born wife Theodora supported the anti-Chalcedonian Monophysite view that was still widespread in Egypt. Jacob Baradai actively proselytized this view in around 530 CE. This earned the anti-Chalcedonians the additional reference as “Jacobites.” How their formal marriage held together amid such deeply held, but divided, religious beliefs one may only speculate. Indeed, one may presume that their marriage was conceived as still another way to recover the lost unity of contemporary Christendom. The struggle continued when the Monophysite patriarch of Alexandria, Theodosius, was forced out of his church and was banished to Thrace for his anti-Chalcedonian position. Since Theodora had supported Theodosius, his death in exile only embittered the “marital” and political relations between Byzantium and Alexandria. After Theodosius died, the Justinian/Theodora divisions entered new forms. The Egyptians consistently rejected the three successive Melkite appointments as patriarch of Alexandria. Not surprisingly the Melkites and Jacobites also sent out rival missionaries to Egypt and Nubia to win recruits for their respective positions. During Justinian’s reign, several pivotal events are recorded relative to Nubia. First, he officially closed and suppressed the Isis cult at Philae. It is believed that much of the defacement of this Ptolemaic temple took place it this time. Second, in his alliance with King Silko of Nobatia, the Blemmyes were subjugated. The famed inscription of King Silko written in poor Greek at the Roman temple built by Augustus at Kalabsha records this moment. Here Silko declares his victory was a result of a singular god, thus establishing an official start of Nubian Christianity at around 536 CE. In 542, Silko was approached by an official delegation of papal authority, but he indicated that he was quite content with the Copts who were already among the Nobatae and wanted no further intervention from Egypt. During the period of 543–569 CE, the first Monophysite Christian kingdoms were formally organized in Nubia, following a flood of Coptic migration that was escaping the troubles in Egypt. The leader of this missionary effort was Julian, a priest deeply loyal to Patriarch Theodosius and who had been with him in his exile. In memory of Theodosius, Julian was committed to gaining new converts among the “Barbari” Nubians. This religious cam-



paign was secretly backed by Theodora and secretly blocked by Justinian who wished to win the new followers to the Chalcedonian position. If the pro-Jacobite accounts are to be trusted, it appears that Theodora was the temporary victor as Julian reached the region of Nobatia first. In 543 CE, Julian established the town of Faras, at the second cataract, as the capital of Nobatia. It is not unlikely that the declaration of King Silko gives some possible veiled reference to the arrival of Julian to Nubia during his reign or of some other Nubian king close to that time. Even after Julian had completed his stay in 545 CE, he left his work in the care of of Bishop Theodore of Philae, who oversaw the priests and missionaries of Nubia in the mid-6th century CE until his death in 575 CE. So closely influenced by Egyptian Copts, Nubian Christians added the common fears of Byzantine intrusion into their affairs as a result of the stormy Second Council of Constantinople in 553 CE. At last, in 565 CE Emperor Justinian died, and some rest from this religious tumult became possible. Mukurra and its capital of Dongola, situated further upstream on the Nile, were converted to the Chalcedon Council in 569. However, the rival missionary Longinus, serving as the bishop of Philae, had converted Faras of Nobatia to the Monophysite school. He then took up missionary work in Egypt and Arabia in 575 CE before returning to Nubia. In 579–580 CE, Longinus dodged Melkite opposition and intrigue in the Chalcedonian kingdom of Mukurra that forced him to take a circuitous desert route to the south. Reaching Alwa, Longinus was instrumental in its conversion to Monophysitism, although the skimpy record suggests that some Christians from Axum in Ethiopia may have already been there sometime after 550 CE. The period of growth and consolidation of Nile Christianity was complete; it would not be long before new religious rivals would enter the scene. CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: MUSLIM RIVALS. Following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE, his followers spread his message to Syria in 636 CE, and in 639–640 CE, Arab Muslims conquered Egypt and immediately began to move across North Africa. This new faith was quite welcome in Egypt for four reasons. First, it promised freedom to “all peoples of the book” (ahl al-kitab). Second, it was bent upon the conquest of Byzantium, which had been such a bothersome burden to Egyptian and Nubian Copts since the divisive Council of Nicaea back in 325 CE. Third, it cleansed Egypt of the brief Persian occupation of 623–628. Fourth, fractious disputes in Christian Egypt prevented any effective local opposition. Islam also spread quickly southward to Lower Nubia. By 641 CE, the forces of Amr ibn al-‘As reached the plain just north of Dongola, but they failed to capture the Christian capital of Mukurra. Frustrated by this barrier, these earliest Egyptian Muslims tried again in 646 CE to penetrate Nubia, but without further success. At last, in 652 CE a famous baqt (treaty) was



established between Nubia and Egypt under ‘Abdallah ibn Sa’ad ibn Sahr. The Melkite patriarch left Egypt at this time. In the areas of Lower Nubia, under Muslim control the Nubian populations were forced to pay an annual tribute of 360 slaves and livestock and to promise no aggression against Egypt. Now Muslim Egypt would provide 1,300 kanyr (jars) of wine to Nubia in return. Although Christian Nubians were pressured to accept this dhimmi tributary status, there were active conflicts between Makuria and its northern neighbor of Nobatia. Apparently, this detente seemed to be a satisfactory outcome, and amazingly, the principles of this baqt were to last, more or less, for some six centuries. Under the Umayyad dynasty in Egypt (661–750 CE), a renewal of a similar baqt in 720 CE between the Egyptians and the Blemmyes did not fare nearly as well. From the fear of its northern Muslim neighbors, and overcoming the strife with each other, the two Nubian Christian kingdoms of Nobatia and Mukurra were finally merged to form the kingdom of Dongola under King Merkurius (697–707 CE). It may have been at about this time that the existence of a combination of Greek, Arabic, and Coptic languages signaled the final end of Meroitic writing, to be succeeded by Old Nubian, especially for religious purposes. The Egyptian efforts to project their power did not always fall in their favor at this time. In around 745 CE, Cyriacus, king of Dongola, countered the Umayyads, then under Khalifa Marwan, by besieging his capital at Fustat (Old Cairo) in protest at the Muslim imprisonment of the Coptic pope. At some point in the 8th century, some Nubian Christians are believed to have constructed a small church near the Church of Ma’adi, which marked the place where Jesus and his parents had embarked to Upper Egypt. This building was pulled down by Ibn al-Hafez, a Fatimid khalifa. While Cyriacus failed to restore Christianity to the Egyptian state, the Umayyad dynasty collapsed in 750 CE to be replaced by the Abbasids until 870 CE. During this dynasty, the emir of Egypt corresponded with the king of Nubia. In 819–822 CE, the Christian kingdom of Mukurra under King George I (816–920? CE), with his Bishop Yoannes III and the Beja, refused to pay baqt tributes to the Abbasids. Nubians and Beja also mounted joint attacks on Upper Egypt. At his death, Yoannes was entombed at the cathedral at Faras. Yet, a degree of mutual respect or autonomy between Muslim Egypt and Christian Nubia may be seen after the coronation in 835 CE of King George I in Mukurra’s capital town of Dongola. In 836 CE, King George traveled safely to, and through, Cairo to Baghdad. It is not clear if his bishop, Kyros (869–902 CE), traveled with him or stayed in Nubia. During the independent reign of ‘Amir Ahmed ibn Tulun (868–884) in Egypt, the relations between the two states were such that thousands of Nubians enlisted in the Tulunid army, probably to pay a service tax. No



doubt some were converted to Islam at this time and earlier, but still the two religious states coexisted separately. During the time of the Alexandrian patriarch Gabriel I (909–920 CE), the famed “Door of Symbols” in the Virgin’s Church in Wadi Natrun was constructed in 914 CE with ebony and ivory from Nubia. In 920 CE, the allied Christian king of Dongola, King Zakaria III, could begin his rule in peace. But by the mid-10th century, a few Muslims were reported as far south as Soba, the capital city of the Christian kingdom of Alwa. Was it anxiety about the Arab presence that caused the Nubians to raid into Upper Egypt in 951 and 956 and as far as Akhmin in 962 CE? The ancient pattern of rivalry on the Nile resumed in 969 CE when the Fatimids came to power and Al-Umari initiated attacks on Nubia. Ironically, this may have been with some Nubian soldiers, since up to 50,000 Nubians served in the Fatimid army. Coming to power at this same time, in 969 CE, King George II of Dongola is reported to have attacked Egypt. Reports written between 975–996 CE by the Egyptian official Ibn Selim al-Aswani noted that Soba was a Christian city of splendid buildings and gold-endowed churches. Its economy was built from an extensive fertile land based on agriculture and livestock. The Alwa bishop was ordained from Alexandria, and their liturgical books were written in Old Nubian. Certainly Faras in 999 CE was equally splendid in church architecture as we see in the portrait of Bishop Petros. A trace of Nubian-Egyptian relations still appears with the marble tray now found in the “Church with a Cave” at Wadi Natrun. This tray was presumably a gift brought by Nubian monks under the reign of King George IV of Nubia (1106–1158 CE) who had been enthroned in 1130 CE. Was he from the lingering Christian kingdom of Dotawo (or Daw) that still existed in the 1140s? In 1171 CE, the Ayyubid dynasty (1171–1250 CE) led by Sultan Saladin replaced the Fatimids. One of his first tasks was to force the Nubians to withdraw to Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia then under Christian king George IV. Playing upon the hope of a Christian alliance, the European Crusaders sought a tactical alliance with Nubian Christians in Upper Egypt in 1163 CE. This Nubian-Crusader alliance against the Ayyubids actually resulted in clashes in Cairo and Delta towns in 1172, but with subsequent counterattacks by Turanshah in Nubia. In 1173 CE, Turanshah attacked Saint Simeon’s monastery in Aswan; its Coptic bishop and priests were sold in the slave market. He also sacked the church at Qasr Ibrim at around the same time. This was also a period of Egyptian Coptic flight to Nubia to escape this turmoil, recalling that Jerusalem had fallen to Saladin during the contemporary crusades. In 1204, various Nubian and Crusader leaders met in Constantinople but finally failed in their plans to topple the Ayyubids, and in 1235, the last recorded priest was sent from Alexandria to Nubia.



Christian Nubia and Islamic Egypt had fought to a standoff with the Fatimids and Ayyubids, but a different fate was in store for them during Mamluke rule. Under the Bahri Mamlukes (1250–1382), especially during the reign of Sultan Al-Zahir Baybars (1260–1277), Nubians were again forced to pay baqt tribute. Documents from 1268 CE show such tribute reluctantly paid by Dongola king Dawud. King Dawud II showed his opposition with raids organized against the Mamlukes in Aswan in 1275 CE. In 1276 CE, the Mamlukes under Shekanda organized a punitive attack that captured King Dawud and sacked Dongola. Its citizens were forced to convert to Islam. Resistance continued, so in 1289 CE the Mamlukes waged still another major attack upon Dongola. The Nubian king Kudanbes may have first come to power in 1309, but in the first decades of the 14th century, skirmishes continued. In 1317 CE, the first mosque was built at Dongola in a former church. ‘Abd Allah Barshambu was installed as its first Muslim king to replace Kudanbes, who had returned to serve as the last king of Dongola in 1323. Baqt payments to the Mamlukes were reestablished under Al-‘Amir Abu ‘Abdallah in 1331. With these events, the formal presence of Christianity in Nubia was at an end, although Christian symbols and some communities of believers lingered. There is some record in the mid-14th century of the king intervening on behalf of Pope Mark IV who had been jailed by the Mamluke king, Saleh II. Even as late as 1372, the bishop of Faras was officially consecrated by the Alexandrian patriarch, and in 1438–1439, the Synod of Florence was held to try to resolve the differences between Rome, Alexandria, and Ethiopia. It too failed. CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: PERIOD OF DECLINE. When the Holy Roman Empire of the East finally fell to Islam in 1453, it was probably only a matter of time before the Muslims would advance further into Nubia. A passing reference to King Joel of the Christian enclave at Dotawo hints that it was still extant in 1464, but this was about all that was left of Christianity in Lower Nubia. The more remote, Upper Nubian Christian kingdom of Alwa collapsed in 1504 CE during Burji Mamluke rule in Egypt to the north. However Alwa was not directly brought to an end by these Egyptian Muslims but, instead, by the rise of the Muslims of Funj Sultanates still further south at Sennar. Although the Christian kingdoms had been defeated, isolated Christian communities in Nubia were still reported as appealing for religious support from Christian Ethiopia as late as 1520. Such was the case during the visit to Ethiopia of the Portuguese missionary Francisco Alvares. Another visitor, in 1522, was the Jewish traveler David Reubeni, who visited both Soba and Sennar and later met with the pope and Spanish king to discuss a plan to resist the Ottomans who had only come to power in Egypt a few years before.



For much of the following two centuries, Christians in Ethiopia, backed by the Portuguese who sought to avoid Arab control of the Eastern Mediterranean, managed to maintain a rather stable frontier between Funj Sultanates in southern Nubia and Christian Ethiopia. A variety of religious Christian missions and contacts took place during the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1541, there was a mission to neighboring Ethiopia. In 1624, Bishop Christdoulous, an “Ethiopian” monk at the Monastery of the Forty Martyrs, died in Egypt, where he was buried. In 1647, Portuguese priests Giovanni d’Aguila and Antonio da Pescopagano undertook a visit to Sennar, and the 1699–1711 period saw three papal missions to Ethiopia, all of which passed through the Nubian towns of Dongola and Sennar on the way to Ethiopia. CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: RELIGIOUS SCHISMS. Despite, or perhaps because of, its early successes in the 4th century CE, Egyptian Christianity very quickly entered into a schismatic religious debate that continues to the present. In 325 CE, more than 300 eastern bishops met at the Council of Nicaea that was called by Emperor Constantine to “resolve” the issue about the “oneness” of Christ and give further momentum to the Christian missionary movement. The followers of the “heretical” Egyptian theology of Arianism had rejected the idea that Christ had a divine nature, which they reserved for God alone. Thus their position was that there were separate “natures,” one for God and one for Christ. Pope Alexander of Alexandria sought support at the Nicaean Council for his view that Christ and God were one. The view of Christ having a “single person with two natures” succeeded, and the Egyptian bishop of Alexandria was sustained. The Arian (as well as Jewish and “pagan”) creed was rejected. The Eastern Greek Church has followed the Nicaean credo since that time. However, the sectarian division within Egypt over Arianism and the subsequently Monophysite interpretations of the status of Christ persisted. This early Christian schism served to isolate the Egyptian, Nubian, and other eastern Orthodox branches from the western (Roman) branches of the Christian church. The Alexandrian Coptic Church sought to follow the Nicaean credo proclaimed by patriarch Saint Athanasius who had attended the Nicaea conference as an observer. After he returned to Egypt, he served as the pope of Alexandria from 327 to 373 CE. The bloody struggles between the followers of Athanasius and the Arians continued in Egypt after the Edict of Theodosius in 384 CE declared that Christianity was the official religion of Egypt. In 391 CE Coptic (Monophysite) Christianity became the state religion, and the divisions continued. Athanasius was serving as pope during the 357 CE visit of Saint Basil from Byzantium and Saint Ephraem of Syria (308–373 CE), who assisted the growth of Egyptian monasticism and the cautious encouragement of Nile



valley Christianity. Around 400 CE, Saint Jerome reached Egypt to introduce a Latin version of the Bible, and the stage was set for spreading the Gospel to the south to Nubia. The division between the official Monophysite view and that of the Arians continued, so Emperor Theodosius sought to resolve this matter once again in the 381 CE Council of Constantinople. The council determined that there would be a shift in the official center of Christianity from Alexandria to Constantinople so as to isolate the Egyptians and marginalize the dispute with the Arians. Deeply insulted that the historic role of Alexandria as a center for learning and religion would be reduced, this council only added to the divisions. This debate and rivalry continued to the third Ecumenical Council in 431 CE and thereafter. In 451 CE, these festering divisions descending from the Council of Nicaea were only reaffirmed with the Council of Chalcedon (near Constantinople). Emperor Marcian and Pope Leo called this council to try again to “resolve” the doctrinal, political, and national differences between the Roman pope of Byzantium and Patriarch Dioscoros of Alexandria. The Dyophysite view was upheld that Christ was a single person with “two natures” (one divine and one human). The Monophysite (“one nature”) view of the Egyptian patriarch Dioscoros was defeated, and he returned to Egypt. Although the theological dispute was “resolved” by declaration, another dimension of the conflict was introduced when the Council of Chalcedon sought to resolve the matter by force rather than further debate. The Melkite (royalist) or Antiochian authority appointed by the emperor not only represented the Dyophysite view but also gave legitimacy to restore the unity of the church even by force to bring this “rebellion” to an end. Specifically, the effort to land in Alexandria and install an official Melkite priest, Proterius, in place of Pope Dioscoros was the final blow. The Egyptian and Ethiopian Copts could not accept this forceful intrusion into their religious (or political) lives. This offended their deeply rooted Christianity that was parallel to their sense of their own proud nationalism. Despite this isolation, the Orthodox Church in Egypt and Nubia then made a more aggressive attempt to spread the Christian message from Egypt to the Sudan, which can be dated to 452 CE and, perhaps, the initial construction of a mud-brick church at Faras. This was a time when the rivals on the Nile were not only Egyptian Copts and Romans but also the Blemmyes and Nobatae of Nubia who had attacked the Romans and took hostages that Roman general Maximinus fought to release. An effort to calm this turbulent time took place with the 453 CE Treaty of Philae that gave non-Christian Nubians and Blemmyes the right to continue to worship the goddess Isis celebrated at that temple. Ironically the role of Isis and Horus reemerges in a new conflated form as Mary and Jesus in Christianity. Meanwhile Egyptian Christian converts also traveled to Europe and the Middle East to spread the



Gospel. Not surprisingly, it was this confused context locally that saw the formal end of the Roman Empire in 476 CE, although as late as 515 CE Romans were still weakly seeking to negotiate a treaty with local Blemmye and Nobatae leaders if they would just leave them in peace. CICATRIX. See BODY DECORATION: CICATRICES, TATTOOS. CIRCUMCISION (FEMALE CIRCUMCISION). Although no records exist that evidence the origins of female circumcision, it is generally agreed to have originated in prehistoric, predynastic times. What evidence does exist of female circumcision in ancient Africa comes primarily from historical sources. Herodotus, the Greek historian, reported the practice in Egypt during the 5th century BCE. He was of the opinion that female circumcision had originated either in Egypt or in Ethiopia. Herodotus explains that infibulation was used on slave girls, while clitoridectomy was a mark of prestige and retained by aristocracy. In 25 BCE, even the Roman ethno-geographer Strabo reported that the Egyptians practiced female circumcision. Female circumcision is also recorded as a custom among several nomadic peoples of the Arabian Peninsula in pre-Islamic times. A second source of evidence for female circumcision in ancient times comes from female mummies themselves. Mummies found in Egypt dated earlier than 25 BCE are thought by some to have been infibulated. Egyptologists heavily disputed this interpretation claiming that no clear evidence of the operation is found on any surviving female mummies (Shaw and Nicholson 1995). The practice of female circumcision was incorporated into “folk” Islamic belief when the jihad swept North Africa from the 7th to 14th centuries CE. Since that time, the custom has become firmly entrenched in Islamic ideals of virginity, modesty, and family honor and status. As a result, female circumcision is today erroneously thought an original practice of Islam. Female circumcision is currently practiced in many regions of the world, including Sudan and Egypt, but also Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, and India, among others. This operation is typically performed on girls ranging from the ages of four to 10 years of age. In varying degrees, female circumcision involves the surgical manipulation of the clitoris as well as other exposed female genitalia. There are several different types of circumcision that are characterized by the extent of excision and stitching. Particularly interesting is the procedure known as infibulation (“Pharaonic circumcision”). This type of female circumcision consists of complete removal of the clitoris, excision of the labia minora, and partial removal of the inner labia majora. The remaining labia majora are then stitched together to form a bridge of tissue over the vaginal opening. A small sliver of wood or straw is then inserted into the



vagina to prevent complete occlusion, and to leave a passage for urine and menstruation. The reference of this most drastic type of circumcision as “pharaonic” has never been fully explained, but it is often used as proof of the custom’s pre-Islamic antiquity. Circumcision (tuhur) is performed routinely on Sudanese Muslim males and females as a rite of passage in the preadolescent years. CLAUDIUS (41–54 CE). The Roman emperor Claudius assumed power upon the assassination of Caligula. His administration brought little change to Egypt. However, nonaggression negotiations took place between Claudius and the Blemmyes in 45 CE at Philae in order to prevent their future harassment. Following the death of Claudius in 54 CE, Emperor Nero came to power. Both Caligula and Nero were responsible for bloody persecution of early Christians in the Nile valley. CLEOPATRA VII (69–30 BCE). This extraordinary Ptolemaic queen who ruled from 51–30 BCE was of Macedonian origin. She presided over Egypt at one of the pivotal times in its history, ruling as the very last pharaoh of three centuries of Ptolemies. Her death ushered in the start of Roman rule of Egypt and Nubia. Her appealing and tragic story has been often retold by Shakespeare and in film. While she was not the first to rule as a coregent monarch, she was certainly the first woman to rule in her own name in these very intriguing times. Cleopatra was the great-granddaughter of Ptolemy VIII and daughter of Ptolemy XII, “Auletes.” Cleopatra was briefly coregent with her father until his death in 51 BCE. His administration then passed to Cleopatra VII, then 18 years old, and her brother-husband Ptolemy XIII, then 12 years of age. Her two older sisters and one younger sister soon vanished from the political scene. Her brothers Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV would be heard of later. In a celebrated case of palace intrigue, it is said that Cleopatra was brought to Julius Caesar wrapped in a rolled carpet, and she lured him away from supporting Ptolemy XIII. Caesar may have had a different understanding of this relationship, but promptly Ptolemy XIII realized that his options were limited. He turned to a hopeless military effort to attack Alexandria occupied by his sister and new lover. The brief Alexandrian war resulted in some urban destruction including part of the great Ptolemaic library organized by Callimachus and Eratosthenes, which was critical for the translation of the Hebrew Torah to Greek and thereby to the Old Testament Pentateuch for Christians that was later translated again to Coptic and Old Nubian. In this atmosphere, Cleopatra and Caesar took a two-month Nile cruise to Upper Egypt, but it is not clear if she reached Aswan. But when Caesar declared himself as emperor for life, this was more than the Roman ruling



circles could tolerate, and the dictator Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March in 44 BCE. Fleeing Rome for her safety, Cleopatra VII sailed back to Egypt, but amid this new power vacuum she needed a new ally in Rome. Her next famous tryst sought the favor and love of Marc Antony who represented Roman power in the eastern Mediterranean, while Octavian became Roman consul. Cleopatra invited Antony to Egypt from 41 to 40 BCE; he evidently fell in love with her, and their union produced twin children. From 40 to 34 BCE, Marc Antony saw extensive military action from Spain to Armenia and Judea. In 37 BCE, Antony took a political risk with his declaration of Roman “Donations” that assigned Egypt to Cleopatra, a foreigner. In Rome, Octavian portrayed this act as treason against Rome. This imperial rivalry was finally at a crisis point at the naval battle of Actium in 31 BCE when the ships of Octavian easily defeated the navy of Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony who withdrew to Alexandria for reasons that are still debated. In events much dramatized by Shakespeare, Marc Antony was misinformed that his lover and ally Cleopatra VII had killed herself, so he took his own life. This tragic news reached Cleopatra who then committed suicide with a poisonous viper on 12 August 30 BCE. Her son Caesarion was soon assassinated. With no further rivals to crush, Octavian became the first Roman prefect of Egypt. To commemorate this event, he changed his name to Augustus. Roman republicanism was dead along with three centuries of Ptolemaic rule of Egypt. The pagan Roman Empire was on the rise, and the battle of Actium was also to have set the stage for the ongoing battle for regional hegemony in Christian times as well as between the Egyptian Monophysite Copts and the Orthodox Chalcedonians. The temple at Dendara still bears an image of this renowned queen and her son Caesarion (Ptolemy XV) who was born on 23 July 47 BCE as a supposed product of her liaison with Julius Caesar. According to Plutarch, polyglot Cleopatra VII was able to speak the languages of Egypt, Nubia, and the Troglodytes (Blemmyes), and she may have spoken Hebrew. The famed geographer Strabo was a contemporary of Cleopatra. During her reign, Cleopatra generally had good relations with Nubia, Upper Egypt, and with Egyptian Jews for whom she may have constructed a synagogue. COBBE, KOBBE. Few maps show this old trading town of Darfur, as it has long since ceased to exist. Cobbe was situated at the southern end of the Darb al-Arba’in, or “Forty-Days Road,”’ which went from the Kharga oasis south to the Selima oasis in the desert west of Wadi Halfa to Cobbe. This was an ancient route between Darfur and the Egyptian Nile that was used for the export of gum arabic, slaves, and camels. Cobbe markets were held twice weekly, and caravans as large as 2,000 camels and 1,000 slaves were known in the 17th and early 18th centuries. At this time, its population of 6,000 was heterogenous with Fellata migrants from the western Sahel, Fur, Kordofani



Arabs, Egyptians, and Nubians. The site of Cobbe was ringed with mountains that offered a natural defense and brought water into its wells. However, one of the reasons to move the capital from Cobbe to El Fasher was because of a better water supply there. When El Fasher began to grow in the early 1700s, Cobbe became superfluous to the region and faded from existence. CONSTANTINE I (“THE GREAT”; r. 306/7–337 CE). This Roman emperor represented a double watershed for Christianity in the world and in the Nile valley. His rise to power terminated the long and bloody history of Jewish and Christian persecution and brought Christianity as the state religion of the Western Roman Empire from 307 to 324 CE. In 312 CE, Constantine I had his visions of a cross in the sky when he defeated Heraclius at the battle of Mulvian Bridge. Interpreting his victory as a sign that he should convert to Christianity, he issued the Edict of Milan in 313 CE, which moved the Christian church from a pariah status to one that was favored by returning confiscated property. With this act, Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, and it was Constantine who introduced the X/P (Chi Rho) monogram that became emblematic for most of Orthodox Christendom, including in Nubia. This Greek monogram indicated that “Christ [X] was the King [P].” Constantine initially came to lead the Eastern Empire of Rome once it was divided during the reign of Diocletian. He served in this capacity from 306 to 324 and then became the emperor of the entire empire from 324 to 337 CE. The brutality and persecution of Christians experienced under Diocletian had failed to achieve its objective, and by 311, the Edict of Toleration, written by Emperor Galerius of the Eastern Empire, had begun to dampen the fires of hatred. Despite this move toward peace and reconciliation, the new legitimated Christians soon turned to schismatic divisions, including the Donatist movement in North Africa and the Arian controversy in Egypt, which was to result in a lasting separation of Coptic and Orthodox Christians. Moreover, the persistent belief in an omnipotent sun god weakened the acceptance of Christianity. Many ancient temples in Egypt and Nubia were transformed from centers of Egyptian deities to those worshipping Mary and Jesus. For example, the Luxor temple was now retrofitted with an altar shrine to Constantine. For reasons of theology and political nationalism, the new Egyptian Diocese at Alexandria followed the Monophysite interpretation that is still pursued by Egyptians and the medieval Nubian Copts. They resisted the declarations of Constantine made at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE that unsuccessfully tried to ignore or resolve these differences. Such important church historians as Eusebius maintained some sympathy for Arianism, or he was at least opposed to the more extreme forms of anti-Arianism. Constantinople (to-



day’s Istanbul) was named in his honor in 324 CE, and when it became the capital of the unified Roman Empire, it only undermined the position of Alexandria still further. COPPER. Throughout dynastic times, Nubia was much appreciated for its mineral and stone resources. Although gold was the most valued, copper was much sought after in the Old Kingdom, and thereafter Nubian copper was alloyed with tin to produce numerous bronze implements and weapons. The main source of Nubian copper was in the Red Sea Hills through the Wadi al Allaqi. Generally the period covered in this book can be termed the Bronze Age, but since copper is the largest ingredient, it obscures its great role in metallurgy and ancient nomenclature. Only when the harder metal of iron came in Meroitic and Greco-Roman times was bronze replaced, and even then it long continued for sculpture although not for tools and weapons. COPTS. The Copts of the Nile valley are the direct descendants of the ancient Egyptians who spoke a cognatic language and essentially never moved from their ancestral lands. Some believe that the term Copt is believed to descend from Heka-Ptah or, roughly, “the place where the god Ptah rules.” The form Heka-Ptah was corrupted by the Greeks under Ptolemaic rule to become Aigyptos, and from that Copts have evolved. The closeness of the living and written forms of the Coptic language to ancient Egyptian was critical in the broader decipherment of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Inscriptions in medieval Nubia are common in Coptic and Old Nubian, but these two languages are not related, except perhaps in the topics they were used to record. Hieroglyphics and Coptic were among the most ancient of languages to be written in ancient Nubia, and it provides the earliest of texts about Nubia whether told by ancient Egyptian record keepers or by 25th-dynasty Nubians ruling Egypt. Since the Coptic language evolved from Egyptian demotic and the morphology of demotic can be linked to some letters in Meroitic, one can see still more ties to Nubia as Coptic was morphed again into the epigraphy of Old Nubian in Christian times. After their early conversion to Christianity by Saint Mark, the Copts identified with their own Monophysite theology that ultimately excluded them from Roman papal authority and Trinitarianism. Copts were largely responsible for bringing Nubian Christianity that usually existed under the authority of the Coptic pope of Alexandria. The Coptic language persists in some monasteries and for liturgical purposes. Like Old Nubian, the Coptic language made heavy use of the Greek alphabet, but all three languages otherwise belong to very different language families. In Old Nubian religious texts, the commentary and theology are essentially of the Coptic tradition



although written in a Nubian dialect. The Coptic AM calendar (AM, Year of the Martyrs) began on 28 August 284 CE and is still observed for religious purposes. CORNELIUS GALLUS (r. 30–26 BCE). Following the short and only visit to Egypt by Augustus in 30 BCE, Egypt was left under the authority of its prefect, Cornelius Gallus. The self-confidence of the Roman Empire was so great at this juncture that it felt itself virtually unassailable. Promptly the Romans jeopardized the careful political balance formerly struck between the Ptolemies and Meroë. Prefect Gallus declared that Aswan would be the legal boundary of Roman Egypt, but Meroë as a bordering client state would also come under the practical authority of Rome as well. Prefect Gallus also stimulated a Theban tax revolt that he put down by force. Apprehension grew in Meroë, and after frustrating negotiations failed, a very large Meroitic army led either by Kandake (Queen) Amanikhshete or Amanirenas attacked Aswan and Philae. In around 29 BCE, Gallus then sent Petronius to counterattack at Dakka and Qasr Ibrim. From there he based his army to conduct a raid into Napata. The Meroites attacked Qasr Ibrim but failed to dislodge the Romans. However, Cornelius Gallus proposed peace negotiations at the remote Aegean island of Samos that reset the border at Maharraka, thus putting the Dodekaschoenos buffer region of Lower Nubia under Roman control but with Meroitic authority recognized upstream. While this left the valuable Wadi al Allaqi gold mines in Roman hands, it is clear that the Romans were also stung by these military engagements, and later, the Romans either kept to themselves or withdrew to Aswan. Cornelius Gallus tried to extend his authority in Egypt by claiming these “victories” in his own name, and he was perceived as a threat to Augustus in Rome. Being recalled to Rome and fearing his own execution, Cornelius Gallus killed himself in 26 BCE.

D DAW, DOTAWO. Daw was a major settlement during the Nubian medieval age, but it was more active during the decline of the Nubian Christian monarchs. Situated between the first and second cataracts, it survived longer in its relative isolation and was perhaps tolerated as a buffer state under Bishop Merki and King Joel as late as 1484 CE. Thus, it still had a functioning Christian community very long after the arrival of Islam. After the destruction of Dongola, apparently some survivors fled to Daw to sustain it as a small Christian kingdom, caught between expansive Islam in Egypt to the north and soon after expanding Islam to the south as the Funj Sultanates emerged after the destruction of Alwa at Soba in 1504. Now Dotawo only survives as the name of a modern Nubian studies journal. DEBEIRA WEST. The Christian village of Debeira West was located on the west bank of the Nile around 7 miles downstream from Wadi Halfa. Both original sites are lost with the flood of Lake Nasser. Debeira West is one of many villages along the second cataract that had been occupied in Middle Kingdom times as well. Being a part of Christian Nobatia, it was an early Christian settlement perhaps started in the 700s with ruins of a domed church and Byzantine-style frescoes in the apse. A famed and salvaged fresco ironically depicts Noah’s Ark, for this church is now under water. It was excavated in 1963 by the University of Ghana. DEFFINARTI. This early fortified island Christian village is typical of the second cataract villages. Its name means simply “Island Ruins.” Like Debeira West, it was excavated by a team from the University of Ghana in 1963 before being lost under Lake Nasser. DIOCLETIAN (ca. 244–316 CE). This military ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire, including Egypt, had great ambitions to restructure the administration, army, and economy in order to produce more wealth for Rome. Reigning from 284 to ca. 305 CE, he was the last of the pagan Roman emperors to have actually visited Egypt. He also sought to control the Nubian lands of 83



the Nobae and the Blemmyes with a system of indirect rule in which their local chiefs would become paid agents of Rome. However, his harsh administration actually stimulated local revolts that compelled him to withdraw his garrisoned troops from most of Lower Nubia very early in his reign. In his withdrawal, he placed the Nile limits (limes) of the Roman Empire at Philae where he built a gateway at the northeastern end of that island. He also strengthened his defenses with a fortress at Elephantine Island. His brutal suppression and persecutions of early Christians was so severe that the Coptic Christians immortalize this date in their AM (Year of the Martyrs) to this time—that is, to 284 CE. For example, 637 AM = 921 CE; 732 AM = 1016 CE; 889 AM = 1173 CE. Diocletian abdicated in 305–306 CE and retired from his position to live at Split in Yugoslavia, where he died, rather than being murdered, as was frequently the case with Roman emperors. See also CALENDARS AND CHRONOLOGY. DONATIST CONTROVERSY. The Donatist debate finds its roots in the persecution of 249–259 CE, especially under the persecution by Emperors Decius and Valerian, but, in general, the previous martyrdom of so many Christians was sustained by the Diocletian (and Galerius and Maximian) persecutions of 302–312 CE. Aside from this historical context, the Donatists were also founded among rural Numidian (Algerian and Tunisian) Christian Berbers who had suffered especially under Roman rule, thus Donatists were also anti-imperialist (i.e., anti-Roman). The supporters of pagan Roman orthodoxy were more often wealthy, urban elites. While Donatism had geographic parameters, it was contemporary with the Arian controversy in Egypt and the Nile valley that had different theological issues but a rather convergent context in time and with anti-imperialist sentiment. Its name is derived from the Christian Berber Bishop Donatus Magnus. The official issue at hand for the Donatists was how did faithful Christians and clergy respond to Roman anti-Christian terror and repression when asked to hand over Bibles and sacraments for destruction under the pain of death. The true-believing Donatists insisted that death is preferable to betraying your faith and holy scriptures, as did the despised traditores (traitors). The bishops argued that saving lives is better than saving books. Sacrifice to the emperor was unforgiveable as a test of faith, especially for clergy who failed this test. After the persecutions ended in 312 CE, the bishops wanted to return to “normal” even when they had renounced their beliefs in Christianity. The Donatist (rigorist) reproach was hard to overcome except by fearful opportunism, and it endured despite Roman efforts to isolate it by the Edict of Toleration (311 CE), the Edict of Milan (313 CE), and the Council of Arles (314 CE), which also cast the debate as the imperial “official” Roman “north” versus the peripheral colonized “south” in modern terms. This remained as an unresolvable anti-Roman antagonism of core versus periphery



that lasted until the arrival of Islam in the 7th century. Even then, the receptivity to Islam in North Africa was contextualized by the persistent antiRoman sentiment. The Donatists rejected the legitimacy of the “weak” bishops and insisted that they no longer had the credibility to baptize or perform church rituals. The strict Donatists argued that the official clergy must be “faultless” to offer prayers and handle sacraments to be valid. The Roman orthodoxy wanted the Donatists back under Roman authority and basically to “get over it.” Virtually contemporary Arian monasticism in Egypt and the later disputes with Egyptian Monophysites were parallel with the Donatist martyrdom complex. These sorts of Puritanical views should be seen as underlying antiRoman attitudes whether in pagan or Christian times. Probably the same could be said even in pagan Greek times when divisions lingered in Greek versus Coptic Christians. For Nubian Christians, the counterpart was seen in the conspiratorial “battles” between Theodora’s Monophysite missionaries versus the missionaries sent by her husband, Emperor Justinian. The height of Donatism was from the early 4th century during the persecution to the 5th century, but as Roman dominance persisted, purist Donatists endured until the 8th century at least. DOTAWO. See DAW, DOTAWO.

E EDICT OF MILAN. This edict promulgated in 313 CE by Emperor Constantine I took the Edict of Toleration by Galerius one step further by not only making Christianity tolerated but establishing it as the official religion of the now Holy Roman (Christian) Empire—isolating the puritanical Donatists. EDICT OF TOLERATION. This edict was promulgated in 311 CE by Emperor Galerius (not to be confused with a different and earlier edict by Galienus). The Galerius edict was the first Roman edict to bring an end to the brutal repression of Christians launched by Diocletian. So the main purpose of the edict was to tolerate Christians and bring Donatists back into the fold of the Roman Empire. Two years later this edict was followed by the Edict of Milan. EIRPANOME. Nubian king Eirpanome apparently ruled Nobatia directly after King Silko’s defeat of the Blemmyes and, it is believed, was the first to declare his acceptance of Christianity. As with King Silko, and his famed inscription at Kalabsha temple (carved sometime between the 530s and 543 CE), this claim also rests upon an inscription at Dendur temple, which had likewise been turned into the church of the Monophysite kingdom of Nobatia. While not precisely dated, the Eirpanome inscription was written when Joseph was the exarch of Talmis (or Kalabsha) as early as ca. 550 CE. This was the time when Theodorus was the bishop of Philae, as late as 577 CE. King Eirpanome may well represent the second step of the earliest institutionalization of Christianity in Lower Nubia. The adjacent, upstream Nubian kingdom of Mukurra pursued the Dyophysite theology. Thus, the earliest case of Nubian Christianity faced theological issues, which were later “resolved” when the two kingdoms were merged to “settle” this issue and to fortify Nubian Christianity against the increasing threat of Islam arriving in Egypt in 639 CE that quickly turned to conquer Nubia in 641. When Muhammad was still alive, he demanded that the Christian Roman emperor Heraclius renounce his faith and accept Islam. Heraclius declined, and Nu87



bians were able to block this first attempt at Muslim expansion. This became a persistent concern for many centuries that created a context for the merger of the two Christian kingdoms perhaps as early as 652 CE. ERGAMENES, ARKAMANI, ARQAMANI, ARKAMANI-QO, ‘RG’MN, ‘IRK-‘IMN (I and II). Ergamenes has many variant transliterations given his importance that spanned dynastic, Greco-Roman, and Meroitic times. His importance for the study of Nubian Christianity rests upon his transfer of the capital from Napata to Royal Meroë City. It was at Meroë that the first Nubian Christian is recorded in the Bible, and it was Meroë that was replaced by the Christian Axum. The discussion about exactly which of the two kings with this name ordered the transfer is not needed here, as the importance is the transfer of the capital that became the entrance for the first recorded Nubian Christian in the biblical Acts of the Apostles. EUNUCH OF MEROË. See ACTS OF THE APOSTLES; CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: FORMATIVE PERIOD. EZANA, KING. See AXUM, AKSUM.

F FARAS (WEST), PACHORAS. Faras was the capital of the Christian kingdom of Mukurra before and after it annexed Nobatia to the north. The site had also been occupied in Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom times (by pharaohs Tutankhamun and Tuthmosis III) and in Meroitic times. If this history were not impressive enough, its most notable feature in Christian times was its cathedral and the rich record it offered, as well as the outstanding frescoes that have largely been saved from the flood of the Nile of Lake Nasser. All original structures are otherwise lost. It was located across from the Christian village of Serra East and just upstream of Abu Simbel. Between these two points was Ballana, the residence of these X-Group Nobatian kings who followed Meroë’s final collapse and immediately preceded the rise of Christianity in Nubia. FARAS CATHEDRAL. See BISHOP MERKURIUS (?–1056 CE); FARAS (WEST), PACHORAS; GEORGE II; INSCRIPTIONS; MUKURRA, MAKURRA, MAKURIA, MAKOURIA, MUKURIA; AL-MUQURRA (ARABIC); MACCURITAE (LATIN); MURAL ART: CHRISTIAN TIMES; NOBATIA, NOBATAE, NOBADAE, NOBA; AL-MARIS (ARABIC); QASR EL-WIZZ (“PALACE OF THE GOOSE”); QASR ICO; QUSTUL; SERRA EAST; WOMEN. FATIMIDS (969–1169 CE). The Shiite Fatimids deserve special note relative to Christian Nubia since this was a very peaceful period between the two faiths. No wars with Nubia were recorded during this golden age of Islam; however, during the reign of the weird Fatimid Khalifa al-Hakim al-Mansour (996–1020 CE) he renewed persecution of Egyptian Copts with public atrocities and pressured them to renounce their faith, and he destroyed some churches in Egypt. He also imprisoned Pope Zakaria. However, Khalifa al-Zahir (1020–1036 CE) restored the tolerance of Christians, and it was the Fatimids who founded the world’s oldest university, Al-Azhar in Cairo. In contemporary Nubia, this was during the reigns of King George II, George III, and George IV in Mukurra. Generally, in 89



Fatimid times the baqt was working smoothly; Mukurra was regularly sending slaves, ivory, cattle, hides, and ostrich feathers to Egypt, and Egypt was sending wheat, linen, and wine to Nubia. Presumably, this was why the Fatimid slave army of Nubians is sometimes put at 50,000 soldiers. This large military force would become a threat to the following Ayyubid dynasty, which slaughtered great numbers of Nubians in Cairo as the Ayyubids were also facing Christian Crusaders with whom Nubians were trying to ally. This was also the time of the visit to Nubia by the traveler Selim alAswani. Additionally, during the Fatimid period the famed geographer and cartographer Abu Abdallah Muhammad al-Idrisi drew his famed map of the Old World while working in the court of Roger II of Sicily. This Arabicinscribed, Ptolemaic-style map had north pointed down and noted the AlNuba (Nubians), the Habash (Ethiopians), the joining of the two Niles, and the Mountains of the Moon. Other khulafa of the Fatimid dynasty were Khalifa al-Mustansir (1036–1101 CE); Khalifa al-Aames (1102–1131 CE); and Khalifa al-Hafez (1131–1149 CE). The Fatimid capital at Fustat in Old Cairo was burned during the first Crusade (1096–1099 CE). The arrival of the Kurdish and Sunni Ayyubid dynasty (1171–1250 CE) followed the end of the Fatimids (1169 CE), and it also represented a major shift in relations to the south with the closure of the church and monastery of Saint Simeon at Aswan, the destruction of the church at Qasr Ibrim, and the raid of Christian Nubia in 1173 CE. Copts were suffering in Egypt, and many fled to their Christian allies in Nubia with others facing forced conversion in Egypt. FIRKA. This Common Era settlement in Lower Nubia on the east bank of the Nile just downstream from Sai Island is the site of a graveyard and administrative center of a very wealthy family, but its actual function remains obscure. The site also includes royal and ordinary citizen tombs from the Ballana culture, post-Meroitic Nubia (400 to 600 CE). That is, it is typically associated with X-Group tombs and the earliest transitions to Christian Nubia. FLIGHT OF THE HOLY FAMILY. See CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: FORMATIVE PERIOD.

G GEORGE, GIORGIOS, GURGI, JIRJA, KIRGIS, OR YURKI (COGNATE NAMES OF THIS KING). At first, the names of the kings (called kasil, kamil, or kabil in Nubian) of Nobatia and Mukurra were generally of Nubian origin, but when the shift to biblical names took place, “George” was the most popular. At least four kings called “George” of Christian Mukurra are known. Perhaps there were as many as six if the other Christian kingdoms are included: George I to IV and perhaps “Moses George” of mid12th century Dotawo and “George Simon” of the late 13th century in Alwa. With the name of “George” for kings being the most numerous, it begs the question whether the name had its roots in Egyptian theology and cosmology. From ancient to Greco-Roman Egypt, the struggle between Horus and Seth was a metaphor for the eternal battle between good and evil. Reinterpreting this theogony, Christianity put Horus as the protector of good (even becoming Jesus in the Christian trinity of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, or the homologous Egyptian trinity of Horus, Isis, and Osiris). Meanwhile the composite evil beast of Seth was configured as tripartite crocodile, leopard, and hippopotamus. As Christianity evolved, the protector god of Horus (or protoJesus) became Saint George, while Seth morphed into a dragon to be slain by Saint George. Perhaps the depths of this central and moving theology are echoed not only in Christianity in general but also the popularity of the name of “George” in particular. The fact that many ancient Egyptian temples got converted to Christian churches helped facilitate this transition. As far as possible, the lines of royal descent followed the matrilineal lines—that is, the son of the king’s sister (the king’s nephew) was preferred and sought when available. Suitability was determined by such factors as age, experience, and health. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: MUSLIM RIVALS. GEORGE I. The birth and death dates of King George I (son of Zacharias I) are in dispute with birth dates as early as 816 CE or perhaps 856 CE or even 866 CE, but if he was crowned king or just Crown Prince in 835 CE, then the earliest birth date is most likely, especially if he was reported as being 20 91



years of age at that time. He might have died as early as 887 CE or as late as an unlikely 920 CE. The imprecision of these dates is common in Nubian historiography. Literary sources provide little information about King George I except that he traveled to Baghdad in 835 CE, in the name of his father Zacharias, to renegotiate the baqt between the king and the Egyptian caliph. The baqt had not been paid for at least 14 years and was expected either annually or after three-year intervals. The Beja, residing to the east of the Nile, were also behind in the tribute payments according to the Arab chronicles of Al-Maqrizi, who reported that Al-Omari was demanding payments and submission. George I sent his nephew Nyuti to attack Omari’s troops, but he was murdered. As a result, George I sent another son, Zacharias, for this mission. Apparently there was a virtual civil war between Nyuti and Zacharias over legitimacy over a prolonged period of several years. GEORGE II. George II was the son of King “kabil” Zacharia III, and the son of George I was reigning under the patriarch of Philotheos (979–1002 CE). Like his grandfather, little is known of this king. His birth, accession, or death dates are not known. What is for sure is that he was on the throne of Dongola when the Fatimid Jawhar as-Siqulli conquered Egypt in 969 CE and may have died in 1002 CE. Images of George II are known from the Faras cathedral and a church in Sonqi Tino. GEORGE III (ca. 1079–ca. 1130). George III was the nephew of King Solomon following matrilineal descent as preferred by royalty. George III was born in about 1079 or 1080 CE and might have died in about 1130. GEORGE IV (1106–1158). George IV was born in 1106, ascended the throne in 1131, and died in 1158. Only two other events are known in George IV’s life, both dealing with Christian Nubian and Fatimid relations. He is known from a tombstone in the church of the Virgin in Deir-es-Surian at Wadi Natrun in Egypt. The tombstone was inscribed in Greek and Old Nubian. He is thought to have become a monk in Egypt in his elder years.

H HADRIAN, PUBLIUS AELIUS (76–138 CE). This Roman emperor of Spanish origin ruled from 117 to 138 CE during the repressive and formative period of Christianity in the Nile valley. He was among the relatively few Roman emperors who actually visited Egypt during these early Christian times in Egypt. Hadrian’s name appears on one of the “Colossi of Memnon” (actually Amenhotep III) in western Thebes (Luxor). He was also known for hunting lions in the western desert of Egypt and for his scholarly debates in the Alexandrian Museum that was still partially extant. Demarcation of Hadrian’s territory was symbolized in Nubia on the western side of Philae Island, where he constructed a gateway. Some of the very latest hieroglyphic and Meroitic graffiti inscriptions are found on the walls of this gateway. Reversing the policy of further expansion of the Roman Empire by his predecessor, Trajan, Hadrian sought to maintain the defense of the empire as he did so dramatically with Hadrian’s wall in northern England in 120 CE to stop threats from the Scots. Other Roman emperors who visited Egypt included Augustus, Caracalla, Claudius, Diocletian, Julius Caesar, Septimius Severus, Trajan, and Vespasian. Hadrian was much involved in crushing the Jews during the Bar Kochba revolt of 133–135 CE. While the Christian kingdoms in Nubia were not yet formed, it is likely that, under these threatening conditions, Jews and early Christians sought sanctuary in nearby Meroitic Nubia and in Eritrea and Ethiopia, joining the Falasha (Baet Israel) communities already there perhaps as early as the 586 BCE Babylonian dispersal. HAMBUKOL. This medieval Christian town site is located in the Letti Basin on the east bank of the Nile between the third and fourth cataracts. Its local orientation was to Dongola, the capital of Mukurra, as it is almost 1,000 kilometers upstream from Philae. Earliest occupation was in Meroitic times, all of the Christian period, and to Islamic times. Aside from assemblages of textiles and pottery, this settlement had remains of a large church. Among the most interesting finds were inscribed incantation bowls with names of apostles and disciples. Inscriptions were in Old Nubian, Greek, 93



and Coptic. These are believed to have had magical benefit to ward off evil. These were placed upside down in the corners of buildings as foundation deposits and to trap demonic spirits. Such bowls suggest inspiration from Jewish Babylonian traditions. Hambukol was excavated by the Royal Ontario Museum from 1986 to 1989 by Krzytof Grzymski and his colleagues. HATHOR. This central goddess for pre-Christian Egypt and Nubia was typically associated with love, nurturing, nursing, motherhood, and tenderness. Hathor was commonly depicted with the ears of a cow, or with the head of a cow, or as a whole cow. In Meroitic and contemporary Greco-Roman times, Hathor was often conflated with Isis, who had many similar virtues and has been reinterpreted in Christian times as Mary nursing baby Jesus. Hathor and Isis were associated with the milk rituals (such as at marriage) that remain a part of Nubian folk traditions even today. Early Christian kings of Nubia also used matrilineal descent as a means to establish royal legitimacy. HOBAGI. Hobagi is a post-Meroitic site on the western bank of the Nile between modern Shendi and Naqa. While this places the site in the X-Group period also represented by Ballana, Qustul, and Tangasi, it has importance as the last transition into Nubian Christianity. The archaeological excavation by the late Patrice Lenoble refers to this as the post-pyramidal “imperial age” of Meroë. The substantial burial mounds clearly suggest a defensive and retreating military elite or regional kingdom since they include bows and quivers, bronze arrowheads, battle axes, and large swords, which were well known from Meroitic times. Images of Horus, Hathor, and lotus motifs express a lingering memory of Meroë in the 4th century and of Egypt still under pagan Roman imperial control. HORUS. Naturally, the important god Horus originates in Egyptian theology; however, it is equally clear that this protective god and fighter against evil gets transformed into Christian theology. The holy trinity of Horus, Isis, and Osiris echoes in the holy trinity of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The eternal battle of the good god Horus against the monster evil god Seth reverberates in the battle of Saint George and the Dragon. Horus, as the god son of the foundational couple of Isis and Osiris, is a parallel to Jesus, god son of Mary and Joseph. Indeed, the immaculate conception and birth of Horus as a god can also be at the roots of Monophysite Christianity, which had the same interpretation of the birth of Jesus in opposition to the Chalcedonian and Nicaean councils and creeds of imperial Christian Rome.

I IBN AL-WARDI, ABU HAFS AD-DIN ’UMAR IBN AL-MUZAFFAR, (1291–1348 CE). Ibn al-Wardi was a Muslim geographer and natural historian. His very schematic map did show the land of the Nuba and the Mountains of the Moon. His Tarikh al-Wardi mostly copied earlier works of Muslim scholars. IBN HAWQAL, ‘ALI IBN HAWQAL AL-NASIBI. Ibn Hawqal was born in Turkey at an unknown date, but importantly, he traveled between 943 and 969 CE and chronicled this period. His simplified map, with north down and south up, included Egypt, the land of the Nuba, the Beja, Dongola, Alwa, and Abyssinia. He is noted for his Surat al-Ard, published in 977 CE, and he died sometime thereafter. IKHSHIDS (935–969 CE). This Turkic Muslim dynasty ruled Egypt from the founding town of Fustat, before Cairo was built and before the Fatimid times in Egypt from 969 to 1171 CE. The Ikhshids ruled rather briefly during the golden age of Abbasid times as it was contemporary with Christian Mukurra, which was still at its peak. During Ikhshid times, in Egypt the noted historian Al-Masudi reported and lived in Egypt from 945 CE to his death in 956 CE. See also ISLAM IN NUBIA. INSCRIPTIONS. Various forms of writing have been known in the Nile valley for more than 5,000 years, making them some of the very oldest sources of inscriptions on earth. What is written is a tiny fraction of what is discussed and communicated in human communities from only the last few thousand years. Moreover, only a small number of all inscriptions are preserved, and many of these are very fragmentary. Of this miniscule group, a still smaller number are recovered in archives and in archaeological excavations. Consequently, on the one hand, this rarity means that each inscription is highly valued, but on the other hand, it presents a highly skewed problem




of representation. So it is with epigraphic studies and analysis that much significant ado is made about very small written things as the vast repertoire of written material is certainly lost forever. The earliest Old Kingdom hieroglyphs later evolved into hieratic and demotic forms, and while the writing form changed, it was important to note that the vernacular language of ancient Egypt persisted in Coptic. Coptic was one of the languages reported for inscriptions in medieval Christian Nubia. With the six centuries of Greco-Roman occupation of Egypt, it is not surprising that Greek orthography was used for writing in Coptic, and many Greek inscriptions are known for medieval Nubia. Even the official language for the Roman Empire in Egypt, and elsewhere, was initially Greek and not Latin. The most famous Greek inscription in Nubia is that written in poor Greek by King Silko of Nobatia. This is often considered to be the start of that Christian kingdom; this argument rests, in part, on the use of a singular “god” in this important inscription on the Roman temple to the god Mandulis at Kalasha in Lower Nubia. Similarly, Egyptian demotic has some inscriptional relationship to the form of Meroitic writing, but the languages do not share the same linguistic roots. This is also the case with Old Nubian inscriptions that are from a Nubian (East Sudanic branch of Nilo-Saharan) language but used the writing form of Greek and Coptic. This early and widespread language family links Nilotic languages of South Sudan such as Dinka and Nuer as well as Masai in East Africa and many of the original languages of Darfur such as Daju, Birgid, and Meidobi, as well as languages in the Nuba Mountains of southern Kordofan. A spoken form of Nubian (Nubi’in) likely existed long before, as was the case of Meroitic writing, which essentially vanished prior to the formal arrival of institutional Christianity. It may well be that Meroitic and Old Nubian writing had some common spoken forms before being rendered into written forms. Just as modern largely unwritten (Nile) Nubian dialectics such as Kenzi, Sukkot, Fadicha-Mahas, and Danagla, it may well be that written Meroitic and Old Nubian have a similar relationship. Arabic inscriptions arrived in Nubia in the closing centuries of Christianity, but they were certainly present in Egypt from at least the 7th century. Instances of Old Nubian inscriptions are known for the entire region of Nubia—that is, from the first cataract to above the sixth cataract and on to Soba, the capital of the Nubian kingdom of Alwa. Inscriptions can range from long biblical and liturgical texts to magical manuscripts, titularies, nonliterary descriptions, ownership, and numerous short graffiti. Writing can be found on plastered walls, parchment, paper, papyrus, pottery, tombstones, and ostraca. Preservation of Old Nubian texts has been notable in churches and monasteries. There are some bilingual texts with Greek, and a few are bilingual with Arabic. Perhaps the earliest Old Nubian text is found in the



small temple of Ramses II at Wadi es-Sebua, which reused a Christian church that dates to 284 CE—that is, before Christian kingdoms were formally established in Nubia. If this is correct, then one might conclude that Nubi’in written in Meroitic (“cursive”) was perhaps contemporary with Nubi’in written in Old Nubian. In other words, these were similar languages with different epigraphy—that is, Meroitic derived from a simplified demotic alphabet, and Old Nubian was recorded in the Greek or Coptic alphabet. There are cases of Old Nubian or Nubi’in that survive in modern Arabic and certainly in regional toponyms. As noted, Copts are among the original Egyptians, and likely the term is derived from the Greek rendering of the hieroglyphic “Heka-Ptah” or “(the land) ruled by (the god) Ptah.” As Christianity emerged, it was these native Egyptians who kept their ancient language but recorded it in Greek letters with a few additional letters not present in Greek. Coptic language is thus the written form dominant (and still used) among Christian believers. Coptic was and is written in Egypt and Nubia (as far south as Soba), while Old Nubian inscriptions are usually limited to upstream of the first cataract at Aswan. As with Old Nubian, Coptic epigraphy is found in similar applications and on similar materials such as papyrus, paper, parchment, and pottery and is used for liturgical purposes; for inscriptions, manuscripts, and monograms; for magic and widespread graffiti; for cryptograms and tombstones; and for writing letters. The numerous Coptic inscriptions recovered at Qasr Ibrim might relate to Coptic refugees from Egypt in the 8th century CE. Certainly churches (such as at Faras), cathedrals, and monasteries were heavy users of Coptic language inscriptions that were sometimes recovered in situ in scriptoria themselves. Certainly in the Ptolemaic times, Greek was the written and spoken form of communication as in the famed trilingual Rosetta stone. Among the very first references to the Noba are in Greek inscriptions. Even when Cleopatra died and Caesar Augustus took over for the Roman Empire, Greek persisted at least into the 1st century CE. It could be noted that Meroitic writing persisted until the end of the 4th century or even the start of the 5th century, so this probably slowed the penetration of Greek into Nubia until its use expanded in Christian times when Greek began to be applied. Relative to medieval Nubia, Greek graffiti is present in 537 CE at the Isis temple at Philae and, very importantly, in the Silko inscription at the Kalabsha temple. As the early church was institutionalized, prayers, liturgy, and funerary inscriptions were standardized by the 7th and 8th centuries if not before. Generally Greek inscriptions preceded Old Nubian, which largely used Greek letters to write their Nubian language. Greek letters, like Latin letters, had numerical equivalents that could be used in recording dates and cryptograms. The fact that Greek writing was on ostraca suggests fairly



widespread literacy at least among the elite who used parchment (especially at Qasr Ibrim), pottery, stone, and cloth for writing surfaces. At Old Dongola in the 8th century, many Greek inscriptions are found in chapels and monasteries throughout Lower Nubia; at the Faras cathedral, Greek persisted at least until the 11th century CE, and some cases of Greek persisted to the late 13th and 14th centuries as protective inscriptions. Greek carried on to one degree or another even to the very late medieval times such as was found in the “castle house” of Kulubnarti. In modern 21st century times in Sudan, Greek merchants and Greek Orthodox churches certainly use Greek in written and spoken forms. Arabic inscriptions begin to be seen in later times in Christian Nubia. Aside from a few cases of graffiti, one trove of mid-11th century Arabic letters written on paper was found at Qasr Ibrim. A mid-11th-century Arabic tombstone was found at Meinarti, and a medallion in Arabic was found at Soba. In the 12th century, inscriptions in Old Nubian and Arabic are recorded on ostraca at Debeira. Greek, Coptic, and Old Nubian all persisted until the 14th century when the famous dedicatory inscription of the Kanz al-Dawla was inserted in the Christian palace throne room at Dongola, which was dated to 1 June 1317. This ushered in Islam, and Arabic flooded the region; however, Nubian dialects still persist today despite the efforts to reduce and marginalize these languages. ISLAM IN NUBIA. Briefly, Islam entered Egypt in about 639 CE under ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, thus creating the Rashidun (631–661 CE) local governance based in Cairo. After some limited Coptic resistance, this new religion spread rapidly across North Africa but was stopped by Christian Nubians to the south. Nubia was then ruled by three Christian kingdoms. ‘Abdallah ibn Sa’ad ibn Sarh was the first Muslim ruler of Upper Egypt; he had his armies stopped at the Christian capital at Dongola, and he signed a baqt (peace treaty) with the king of Nubia in 652 CE. The baqt guaranteed mutual safe conduct, mutual trade, nonaggression, and religious freedom. Runaway slaves and rebels from Egypt would be returned to Aswan, and 360 healthy slaves were expected from Nubia each year. The subsequent Umayyad dynasty (661–750 CE), based in Damascus, took over after those first two decades. Still some Coptic resistance was noted in Egypt at this time. The following Abbasid dynasty (750–935 CE) based in Baghdad was the next to rule over Egypt, still with some recorded Coptic resistance but still blocked from entering Nubia in force, yet some Muslims did visit Christian kingdoms in the 10th century. For a portion of Abbasid rule, the government of Egypt was headed by Ahmed ibn Tulun, whose local autonomy was so great that he was credited with forming the Tulunid dynasty (868–905 CE) and its famed Cairo mosque that still stands from this time. Nominally the Tulunids were subordinate to, and legitimated



by, the Abbasids of Baghdad. The Turkic Ikhshids (935–969 CE) were the next to briefly hold sway over Egypt; however, still Christian Nubia blocked further aggression to the south, and more Coptic revolts were recorded in Egypt. The relatively weak Ikhshids, ruling far from Baghdad or Damascus, finally paved the way for the arrival of the Fatimid dynasty (969–1171 CE). Unlike all the previous Sunni Muslim rulers and dynasties, the Fatimids were Shiite Muslims. Fatimid Egypt was based in Egypt, although it extended west to the middle of North Africa but did not expand into Christian Nubia at Dongola. However, relations with Christian Nubia were usually based more on mutual respect rather than previous threats. Relations between the Fatimids and Egyptian Copts were also less contested, and it was in Fatimid times that the world’s oldest university of Al-Azhar was established. Indeed, when the Sunni Ayyubid dynasty (1171–1250 CE) of Damascus came along to displace the Fatimids, Nubians made some effort to assist in the defense of the Fatimids. The Kurdish leader of the Ayyubids, Salah edDin, was heavily engaged in the Crusades and the seminomadic peoples of the neighboring deserts of Nubia. Quite rightly, the Christian Nubians understood that they were also at risk. Still they stood to block the Ayyubid interest to destroy the Christian kingdoms of Nubia that also precipitated internal instability within Mukurra. Archeological proof of this is manifested by Nubian towns getting more often walled and located in more easily defended heights such as at Qasr Ibrim. Even homes were built in a more rugged manner with niches and storage places better concealing valued items. Oft-threatened Nubia began to have some internal discord, and the northernmost Kenzi Nubians were the first Nubians to accept Islam, thus ushering this faith further up the Nile as Muslim traders traveled and traded in Christian Nubia. The Kenzi descend from the Beni Kanz Arabs, and the hereditary position “Kanz al-Dawla” refers to the general title “state treasurer,” or a specific individual who carried the title. One Kanz al-Dawla launched a revolt against Salah ad-Din (Saladin) from 1171 to 1175 CE. During the Ayyubid dynasty started by Salah ad-Din in 1171, these Sunni Arabs were viewed as a threat to Nubian Christians, who had had more favorable relations with the previous Fatimids, and consequently, Nubian armies were dispatched to Egypt to send them a message of resistance. Not surprisingly, the Ayyubids were annoyed; they countered with a punitive counterinvasion of Nubia led by his brother, Shams ad-Dawla (Turan Shah). In 1173, Saladin’s soldiers destroyed the Christian Monastery of Saint Simeon in Aswan, and the Kanz al-Dawla was impaled to death to frighten his followers. He forced the Nubians out of Lower Nubia at Qasr Ibrim, which was occupied for a few years before Salah ad-Din’s forces were withdrawn back to Egypt.



One may say this was a tactical victory with no strategic gain, since thereafter the Ayyubids had no further military adventures in Nubia at their capital at Mukurra for the next 100 years, where few Nubians traveled north and few Muslims traveled to Nubia, or at least this historical Dark Age left few traces. This was partially true because the sometimes attacking seminomadic peoples of the eastern and western deserts may have been more dangerous to Nubia, but the Mamlukes ruling Egypt made more written reports. These Circassian professional slave soldiers were too much for the Ayyubids to overcome, and the same fate befell them as with the previous dynasties. In fact, the implicit terms of the earlier baqt supposedly provided that Mukurra would protect the southern Egyptian borders from attacks by the Blemmyes, Beja, and Bisharin. However, since Mukurra was neither unwilling nor unable to perform this defensive function, the Egyptian military had an excuse to intervene, and each intervention resulted in more weakness of the Christian state. For example, in 1272 the Bahri Mamluke sultan Baybars invaded Nubia, after King David I had attacked the Egyptian city of Aidhab, which “justified” more decades of Mamluke intervention in Nubian governance. Clearly internal disputes and threats from Muslim Egypt to the north and nomads to the east have hurt the Mukurran kingdom. When King David’s cousin Shekanda claimed the throne, he traveled to Cairo to seek the support of the Mamlukes, who backed Shekanda by making Mukurra an Egyptian tributary with a Mamluke garrison in Dongola. However, a few years later, Shemamun, also rooted in the ruling family, revolted against Shekanda to regain Mukurran autonomy. He defeated the Mamluke garrison and seized the throne in 1286 after rejecting Shekanda’s political accord. He did accept a return of the baqt in terms more favorable to Egypt if they abandoned their political and military control. The dangerously overextended Mamluke sultan’s armies saw this as an acceptable arrangement. But it was also during Bahri Mamluke times that the next major offensive against Christian Nubia took place with an attack by Shams ad-Din in 1276 CE. Nubians revolted in Aswan in 1287, 1366, and 1385 CE, but by 1412 CE, they were defeated. The traveler’s account by Ibn Batuta (25 February 1304–1369) and his famous global Rehlat (Travels) included Egypt and Aswan. In 1326 and 1332, while on his pilgrimages to Mecca, he tells us more about these times and places. Also the famed Muqaddimah, written in 1377 by Ibn Khaldun (27 May 1332–17 March 1406), which pioneered in historical and political theory, did mention Aswan and Dongola. These tangential reports on Christian Nubia in the 14th century took place during the Bahri Mamluke occupation of Egypt. One might ask for some explanation for this long gap in history and the ultimate decline of Mukurran Nubia. Several divisive and challenging factors were at work: religion, climate, hostility, military, trade, regional insecurity,



and ultimately geographical isolation. One of the important sources for this period are the reports of Ibn Khaldun, who blamed the regional insecurity on Arab invasions as well as shifting trade routes and frequent droughts between the 12th and 14th centuries. The situation of Kenzi Nubians was complicated because, as Muslims, they shared the religion of the Islamic rulers of Egypt to the north, but as Nubians, they were ethnically and linguistically tied to Christian Nubians to the south. During a dispute for succession to the Nubian throne at Dongola, the Christian king Kerenbes went to Cairo to promise his loyalty to the Mamluke sultans through the Kanz al-Dawla, but the Mamlukes toppled Kerenbes and installed a Muslim convert, Barshambu, in his place. In 1311 CE, King Kerenbes was the last to pay baqt tribute to Egypt from Dongola. When Barshambu was later murdered, the Kanz al-Dawla had an opportunity to take over Dongola, but the Mamlukes briefly brought Kerenebes back to power as long as Kerenbes paid the baqt; however, he refused in 1312, and the Mamlukes returned to occupy Mukurra. By 1317, the impressive Christian “Throne Hall of Dongola” was converted into a mosque and again occupied the kingdom in 1312. This time, a member of the Muslim Mukurrans, Sayf al-Din Abdullah Barshambu, was placed on the throne. However, this was deeply resented by other Mukurrans and immediately precipitated civil war. In this contentious context, Barshambu was killed and followed by another Kanz al-Dawla, who actually acted as a Mamluke puppet. King Kerenbes retook control from the Kanz al-Dawla in 1323 and seized Dongola, only to be toppled in the next year in these tumultuous times; Kerenbes fled to Aswan to plot another return that never came. While this was the formal end to Nubian Christianity and the Muslim Beni Kanz now controlled Dongola, Islam continued to spread slowly as Muslim merchants and teachers settled and married among Nubians in northern and central Sudan. Likewise, Christianity was not fully extinguished. An Ethiopian monk, Gadla Ewostatewos, traveling in Nubia in around 1330, reported that a king of Nubia was still a Christian. The Spanish Book of Knowledge of All Kingdoms, written in about 1385, also asserts that the “Kingdom of Dongola” still had a Christian population with a Christian cross on its white banner. It took two more centuries to complete this process with the fall of the Christian kingdom of Alwa in 1504. Then the Funj Sultanates at Sennar and in Darfur at El Fasher became the first Muslim states in the Sudan. The Funj attracted holy men from Arabia, Nubia, and Egypt to introduce Islamic theology and religious practices, as well as Maliki jurisprudence to central Sudan. Informal or individual Muslim travelers such as the Shiite Egyptian Ibn Selim al-Aswani in the 10th century visited both Dongola and Soba during these Fatimid times. In the 12th century, the Moroccan Muhammad alIdrisi (1099–1165) recorded “Nuba,” the bifurcation of the Nile, and the “Mountains of the Moon” in his famous map. In the 14th century, the Syrian



Shihab al-Umari (1300–1384) provided basic sources on the Mamlukes, but formal or state Islam really began in Mukurra in the late 14th century. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Egyptian geographer and historian ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Makrizi (1364–1442 CE) described Nubia. Nobatia was already annexed by Mukurra, and Alwa remained Christian for another century and a half. By 1412, if not before, the Muslim Kenuz “Arabs” were controlling Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia at the least. Arabization and Islamization became the dominant linguistic and cultural forces. This took place to such an extent that Nubians upstream of the fourth cataract forgot their “Nubianess” and became Arab groups such as the Ja’aliyeen, the Shaygiya, the Rubatab, Mirafab, and Manasir, and they sought to assume an Arab pedigree with links to the Prophet Muhammad and his associates. Finally the Egyptian geographer and historian ‘Abd al-Salam al-Manufi (?–1525 CE) described details of the Nubian Nile. Yet, between the first and third cataracts, Nubi’in remained a widely spoken language until the 19th century and persists as a vernacular today. Downstream of Debba or Korti, four Nubi’in dialects are still found and include Kenzi (Kenuz), between Aswan and the second cataract; Sukkot and Mahasi, both between the second and third cataracts; and the southernmost dialect, Danagla/Dongolawi. But all these Nubi’in dialectics are under strong threat by informal and formal Arabization, especially in the 20th century. Today all Nubians are Muslims, and their dialects include Arabic words. Faras, Old Dongola, and Soba are all just archaeological sites today, and some of the Arabization and Islamization has led some former Nubians to claim Arab descent from Abbas or Ibn al Khazraj to obscure or forget their Christian past. At Old Dongola, the extensive cemetery of beehive-shaped qubba tombs are a significant part of the local Islamic archaeological landscape. Muslim rulers and Islamic teachers arrived from Egypt and Lower Nubia, and new Mahas Nubian Muslims spread southward to central Sudan, especially to Tuti Island and to the Gezira on to the Funj Sultanates after the start of the 16th century. By the end of the 16th century, Dongola had very few to no practicing Christians. Perhaps a few isolated Christians or Christian practices lasted until the 19th or even the 20th century. As Islam steadily grew in strength, the few Christians left were forced to pay subordinate tribute taxes or were even regarded as infidel holdouts, but instances of violence against them are not known. By the 19th century, the Ottoman military conquest of Sudan was not so much about forced conversion since northern Sudanese by then were almost entirely Muslim in name anyway. Ottoman interest was in land, livestock, slaves, and gold. Late Christian churches were not really destroyed but were also not really protected and were mainly abandoned and allowed to collapse, with the small exception of defacing Christian images that might have endured. Unlike the common conversion of Egyptian tem-



ples to Christian churches, very few churches were turned into mosques. Christian rituals such as making a cross on a newborn, “baptizing” babies in the Nile, and the 40-day birth ritual also linger within Sufi Muslim communities. Nubian house decoration traditions with wavy-line (water) themes and with a plate (sun) over the door also suggest persistence of pre-Christian and Christian patterns. By 1517 (the end of the Mamlukes), Christianity in Lower Nubia was over, and the last Christian kingdom of Alwa fell in 1504. There may be no need to pursue formal Christian state history in Nubia or Sudan after this point, except to say that the Ottomans arrived in the Nile valley at this time and, in one form or another, with one sultan or puppet king or another, persisted effectively in Egypt until 1953 and in Sudan until 1885. The Ottomans (i.e., the Turkiya) only arrived in Sudan in 1821. Refer to the Historical Dictionary of Sudan (fourth edition). See also AL-MAQRIZI, TAQI ALDIN ABU AL-ABBAS (1364–1442); AL-MAS’UDI, ‘ABD AL-HASSAN IBN HUSSEIN IBN ‘ALI (896–956 CE); .

J JEBEL ADDA, ADO. This site is referenced in several historical periods, for it was one of the main centers of power and authority from Meroitic times until the Arabs in the 13th century CE. It served as a subcenter to Qasr Ibrim during the Meroitic period. During this time, Jebel Adda was a walled settlement that overlooked the east bank of the Nile. It featured pyramids covered with white plaster, a mortuary custom that differed from the usual red plaster. Cemeteries, normally on the west bank, were located on the east bank and close to town. Jebel Adda went through several building phases, the fourth phase being the most extensive. Stone-dressed walls replaced brick fortifications, temples were built, and sandstone statues were constructed. It is assumed that during this phase Jebel Adda served as a military, administrative, and religious center; it may have served as the capital during the Ballana period. The Ballana culture destroyed many pyramids at Jebel Adda opting for mound tumuli, a clear rejection of Meroitic culture. During the Middle Ages, Jebel Adda may have served several thousand inhabitants, which explains why the settlement extended beyond the citadel walls. By the 14th century CE, a small Nubian kingdom, the kingdom of Dotawo, was established at Jebel Adda. Documents dated 1484 CE mention a King Joel, thus giving evidence that some Christians still persisted at Jebel Adda until the 15th century. Extensive excavating has only produced one royal name within the fortification. X-Group cemeteries have been found there as well, along with a temple built for the worship of Amun. This temple is considered the latest to have been built in Lower Nubia, thus proving that a cult was retained up until the downfall of the Kushite period. JEBEL QEILI, GEILI. This inscription is located deep into the Butana Steppe, southwest of Murabba, and is the most southern and most eastern Meroitic monument known. This monument contains a victory relief of pagan king Shorkaror of the Christian era, his only known relief, receiving blessings from the sun god and triumphing over unnamed enemies; it may celebrate a victory over newly Christian Axum. This relief is known to be the 105



last of any significance in the history of the Meroitic Kingdom. Shorkaror was one of the sons of King Natakamani and Queen Amanitore who ruled at about the time reported in the Acts of the Apostles, which reported the first Christian in Nubia—a eunuch servant for the royal family. Clearly the inscription at Jebel Qeili highlights or foretells the forthcoming transition to Christianity. JEWS. These ancient migrants from Mesopotamia, the sons of Abraham (like Christians and Muslims), may have first reached the Nile in some relationship with the Hyksos who were key allies of the contemporary Nubians. The Hyksos had certain ties to Canaan and had Semitic names. It is believed that the famed biblical Exodus led by Moses took place during the reign of Ramses II or even earlier. Apparently, the first reference in the Nile valley to Jews (Habiru) was during the reign of Ramses III at Medina Habu in Western Thebes, although scholars have disagreed about these points. The first ancient kingdom of Jews was formed, by convention, by King Saul’s unification of the wandering Judaic peoples and especially by the subsequent reign of his son, King David (1010–970 BCE). The third king in this dynasty was Solomon (970–930 BCE), who is credited with the construction of the temple at Jerusalem (Al-Quds) housing the famous “Ark of the Covenant,” which was reputedly taken to Ethiopia where it is kept for the annual Timkat festival. Later, the Jewish state split into the two kingdoms of Judea to the south and Israel (Samaria) to the north. In the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, the Assyrians attacked these two kingdoms, and (Falasha) Jews fled to the west and south, with some apparently passing through Lower Nubia on their way to Axum in 586 BCE. It is well known, even in the Bible, that some Nubian pharaohs of the 25th dynasty had close political and military ties with the Judeans as Nubians had also been allied with the previous Hyksos; both had a common interest in resisting Assyrian aggression, even though both finally failed. However, it appears that at some point in the 7th century BCE, some Jews and Canaanites moved to the Nile valley while it was still occupied by Nubian pharaohs. A Jewish temple was established at Aswan from that time until it was destroyed in the late 5th century. It is likely that Jewish mercenaries were part of the military forces of Psamtik in his attacks on Napata, which would become a part of Christian Mukurra. Under more liberal Persian rule, a number of Judeans returned to Jerusalem in 538 BCE, as authorized by King Cyrus, and an early Jewish community was formed in Egypt under the reign of Darius I in 494 BCE. By the time of the Ptolemies in the 4th century BCE, the city of Alexandria was roughly one-quarter Jewish, and some of them played a military role in the defense of Ptolemaic Egypt at Aswan as they had with the Persians. Jews also played important scholarly roles in the famed Alexandrian library. The



role of Jews was especially foundational in the translation of the Septuagint from the original Hebrew to Greek. This became a central document in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Meroitic writing seems to have been stimulated by this library, and at least one Ptolemaic ruler spoke Nubian, while some Nubian kings and traders could converse in Greek. Roman expansion around the Mediterranean in the 1st century BCE brought Judea under the authority of Pompey in 63 BCE. The unusual Roman emperor Caligula first appointed Herod as the king of Judea in 37 BCE, and he continued to serve afterward under Caesar Augustus. His Jewish subjects were much oppressed by Roman rule, and they certainly abhorred Herod. In this regard, Jews and Nubians, like the former Hyksos and Kerma leaders, were again of a common mind in their great dislike for the authority controlling Egypt. Passive and active resistance and compromised positions during this period characterize the Jewish-Roman and Nubian-Roman relations at this time and in following centuries. The next famed presence of Jews in the Nile valley is, of course, the journey of the Holy Family in Egypt. Reportedly, the infant Jesus and his family were escaping Roman repression and left their homeland and traveled west to cross the northern Sinai to Matariya in the Delta and on to Old Cairo (the Roman “Babylon”), on to Ma’adi to board a boat to Middle Egypt, including Malawi, Assyiut, and finally to Al-Muharaqa (named for the “flight”) to this southernmost point while seeking sanctuary. This deep dive into Roman-Nubian relations persisted into Christian times when Roman rule was based in Constantinople and Egyptian and Nubian Monophysites were still at loggerheads with them. In this instance, history does repeat itself in contested geo-strategic and theological rivalries. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA. JULIAN, EMPEROR (r. 361–363 CE). This non-Christian, last pagan nephew of Constantine I briefly sought to restore the worship of the sun god (as was persisting in Meroë) and thus reverse the institutionalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire. He is understood to have criticized his contemporary Christians for corrupting the very values of Christianity. His tolerating and “backsliding” pagan revival movement soon failed. However, the previous stumbles of the three sons of Constantine I over the Arian controversy made for a very rough start to establish Christian orthodoxy. JULIAN, MISSIONARY. Julian was a Monophysite Christian missionary who was sent by Empress Theodora to Nubia in competition with Orthodox missionaries sent by Emperor Justinian. In 543 CE, Julian managed to convert the kings and bishops of Nobatia to Monophysite Christianity.



JUSTIN I, EMPEROR (r. 518–527 CE). Justin I was a Roman emperor of Byzantium from 518 to 527 CE—that is, just prior to Justinian I. Among his main interests was to try to balance the theological dispute between Roman Chalcedonians and Egypto-Nubian Monophysites. He developed a special interest in supporting the Monophysite Axumites in 523–525 CE to serve the Roman political, commercial, and military goals of attacking Persian supporters in Yemen and gain effective control of the Red Sea maritime trade to Asia. JUSTINIAN I, EMPEROR (ca. 482–565 CE; r. 527–565 CE). This orthodox Roman emperor of Christian Byzantium ruled from 527 to 565 CE; he reconquered Italy and North Africa (in 533 CE), repressed of Jews, and struggled to unify the empire under the Council of Chalcedon. His harsh Codex Justinianus was aimed against Donatists, Arians, and Vandals of North Africa with strict religious regulations. However, his Egyptian-born wife, Theodora, was friendly to the Egyptian Copts, and she favored the Monophysite view as well as the Alexandrian (Jacobite) patriarch Theodosius who was banished to Thrace. Theodora invited Theodosius, and his priest Julian, to Byzantium in 543 CE. This personal, political, familial, and theological struggle continued in Christian Nubia as the husband and wife both pushed for their differing causes. Perhaps it was King Silko (or close successors, like Bahriya, Eirpanome, or Tokiltoeton) who found himself amid this theological battle of the dueling missionaries bringing Christianity to Nubia. Silko stuck with the Monophysite creed having already had problematic relations with the pagan and Christian Romans when they ruled Egypt. Diverted by restoring and expanding the Roman Empire, Justinian had to recover North Africa from the Vandals and Italy from the Ostrogoths. This was largely achieved by rebuilding the Roman administration, by staging grand public events, patronage systems, foreign aid, lavish gifts, and diplomacy. On the other hand, these “carrots” were in tandem with the “sticks” of repressive police, murders, assassinations, executions, opportunism, and strategic marriages, such as with his problematic Egyptian wife whose Monophysitism was opposed to her husband’s orthodoxy. Relative to the Nile valley, this meant a major effort to try to build religious unity at a time of anti-Roman sentiment and theological divisions. He first pursued the goals of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE and continued to isolate the followers of Arianism. His parallel task was to isolate or incorporate the followers of Monophysitism, who were especially numerous and dedicated in Egypt. These represented a delicate politico-religious threat to the unity of Byzantium; Justinian did not want to antagonize them more, but he did not tolerate their rival Christian theology, which was also held, notably, by his own wife.

JUSTINIAN I, EMPEROR (CA. 482–565 CE; R. 527–565 CE)


Finding one possible area of convergence Justinian determined to arrest the priests and close down the Isis temple at Philae still favored as a pilgrimage site for Nubians. This complex juggling grew more intense with his marriage in 525 CE to Theodora, as a very charming but “humble” bearkeeper’s daughter; she is sometimes considered as the “Cleopatra VII” for Christendom for her personal and profound engagement with the affairs of the Roman state. It is hard to say if love, convenience, frustrations, or mutual intrigue were at the center of this relationship built on such a dubious foundation that would function so effectively. It is clear that Theodora’s wisdom, charm, wit, and power brokering had much to do with this success. Her sponsoring a Monophysite monastery in Constantinople and Justinian’s effort in 533 CE to negotiate a truce between these religious schisms suggests the dilemma. In 541 CE, bubonic plague allegedly originated in “Ethiopia” (i.e., Nubia, “Above Egypt”), and by 542 CE, the epidemic swept through Egypt and to other parts of the Byzantine Empire, including Constantinople. By the time it was over, more than 250,000 people had perished with Emperor Justinian himself becoming gravely ill. During this critical period, Theodora essentially took over control of the state, including military affairs. Taking advantage of this circumstance, in 543 CE, Theodora arranged to allow Theodosius, the exiled Monophysite patriarch of Alexandria, to consecrate the new bishop, Jacob of Edesa, and to spread Monophysitism in Syria and elsewhere. As well, Theodora used this time to make a secret plan to send missionary Julian to Nubia. By 546 CE, the pro-Chalcedonian patriarch of Alexandria (appointed by the emperor) had to flee for his life amid the resurgent Monophysitism. Such was typical for the times and the complexities of their marriage; Justinian I was more focused on growth and stability of the Christian Roman Empire than on theological matters. As today, within various sects in Christianity, the Roman Empire and their marriage could finally accept that Monophysites and Chalcedonians could get along if they tried to have mutual respect. When Theodora died of cancer on 28 June 548 CE, one can imagine sadness and relief of Justinian I, who continued to try to solve this schism between Constantinople’s Christianity and the Monophysitism of Egypt, Nubia, and Ethiopia until his own death in November 565 CE. The substantial and impressive efforts by Justinian I to restore and expand the Roman Empire proved, in historical terms, to be more of the end of this “golden age” than the restart of a new one. In fact, it was the start of a long period of decline. In 638–642 CE, Arabs entered Egypt to reduce the longtroubling Monophysites to minority status, which they have held ever since. Ironically, Nubian Monophysitism was to last for almost another millennium, and Constantinople finally fell to, or accepted, Islam itself in 1453.

K KALABSHA (TALMIS). See SILKO, KING. KANZ AL-DAWLA. The title of “Kanz al-Dawla” was a generic reference to the local (hereditary) authority “state treasurer” of Lower (Egyptian) Nubia. Several specific individuals held this title at specific times. All were Muslims from the Beni Kanz Arabs from the late 11th to 14th centuries. One Kanz al-Dawla, opposed by Cairo, fled to Nubia in 1046 CE but was handed over (according to the provisions of the baqt) and was crucified in Cairo. Another among the more famous title holders was the Kanz al-Dawla who launched a revolt against Salah ad-Din (Saladin) from 1171 to 1175 CE. This revolt was finally crushed, and the Kanz al-Dawla was put to death by impaling, as a very harsh lesson for others to observe. The complexity of this role was due in part on Sunni-Shiite splits, the Kanz al-Dawla’s position at the front line of contemporary Muslim-Christian border lands, and the Kanz alDawla’s Arab nationality within traditional Kenzi Nubian territory between the first and second cataracts. Another Kanz al-Dawla called Hudhayl was perhaps of mixed, Beja, Nubian, and Arab origin, which typically complicated legitimacy, ethnic affinity, identity, and even loyalty to the Muslim powers in Cairo. Perhaps the most famous Kanz al-Dawla (Shuja ad-Din) was the individual who was militarily engaged with the Nubian king ‘Abd Allah Barshambu who was projected as “unpopular” among his Christian subjects. Barshambu was killed in combat, so this Kanz al-Dawla became the first effective Muslim ruler of Dongola. However, he did not formally assume the crown since his maternal uncle, Kerenbes, who was his senior, held that privilege during the transition from Christianity to Islam because of Nubian cultural and matrilineal inheritance traditions. This Kanz al-Dawla is the author of the inscription dated to 1 June 1317 in the throne room at the Old Dongola palace that was thereby converted into a mosque. In January 1318, the Mamluke sultan in Cairo insisted that the Kanz al-Dawla should step down, and he would release Kerenbes’s brother Abram from custody and place him on the Dongola throne. This transition appeared to be under way with his sister’s 111



son, the Kanz al-Dawla, stepping down as requested; however, after only a few days Abram died, and the Kanz al-Dawla took the throne again amid the objections of the Cairo sultan Nasir. These now turbulent times became more so when the captive Kerenbes “decided” to accept Islam (perhaps as a condition of his release) and was himself returned to power in 1322 CE with the backing of the Egyptian army in November 1323. Under this military pressure, the Kanz al-Dawla fled south to the Abwab region where the Mamluke army abandoned the pursuit, and by August 1324, they returned to Egypt leaving Kerenbes reinstalled on the throne. This dramatic period did not end as the Kanz al-Dawla retuned to Dongola and forced out Kerenbes, who fled for security to Aswan to get military assistance from Cairo once again. He was still waiting two years later and then was never heard from again as the last Christian king of Mukurran Nubia. A Kanz alDawla named Abu Abdallah was reported on the throne of Dongola in 1333, but it is not clear if this was the same Kanz al-Dawla who seized the throne in 1317. Alwa retained its Christianity until 1504 when conquered by the new Muslim ruler, Amara Dungas of the Funj Sultanate. See also ISLAM IN NUBIA. KERENBES (KUDANBES, KERNABES). According to the Muslim chronicler Al-Maqrizi, the political, religious, and military struggles of King Kerenbes are recorded as very tumultuous times during the rule of Bahri Mamluke sultans Baybars and Qalawun and their efforts to take over Christianity in Nubia and convert the state to Islam. After killing his brother King Amay, Kerenbes ruled Nubia twice (1311–1316 CE and 1323–1324 CE). In 1315, an Egyptian army was sent against Dongola and Kerenbes fled south to Abwab, but he was handed over to the Egyptians in around 1316. Following matrilineal royal descent, a son of King David’s sister, ‘Abd Allah Barshambu, was then installed as the first to claim Muslim rule of Mukurra. To prevent this, the Kanz al-Dawla (Kerenbes’s sister’s son) “escaped” from Cairo and battled his way back to Dongola where he killed Barshambu in combat as an apparently unpopular convert to Islam. However, the principle of matrilineal descent prevailed, and as the matrilineal nephew of Kerenbes, he then ruled in practice but in the name of Kerenbes. Kerenbes’s brother Abram (and the uncle of the Kanz al-Dawla) was installed on the Dongola throne, but he died soon after and perhaps was taken to Egypt, and the Kanz al-Dawla was returned to power as the king of Nubia. Apparently, on 7 April 1322, Egyptian troops gathered in an Aswan monastery, and on 1 December 1323, the Egyptian sultan sent this cavalry unit from Aswan to Dongola and exiled the Kanz al-Dawla to Abwab. Kerenbes



briefly claimed to return to power in 1323–1324, but the Kanz al-Dawla also returned once the Egyptians left for Egypt. Kerenbes fled back to Aswan in 1326 awaiting more Egyptian support that never arrived. KUDANBES. See KERENBES (KUDANBES, KERNABES). KULB. This Christian fortified town is located in the Butn al-Hajr region across from Aksha. Kulb features a church or, more likely, a rather rare monastery located away from the village, an uncommon characteristic for a Christian town since churches normally were central in walled towns. It appears to have been built in classical Christian times, perhaps around 900 CE. Texts in Coptic that related to land transfers were found in Kulb. KULUBNARTI. Founded in the Late Christian period, this village featured several island communities. Located in the Butn al-Hajr region, roughly 40 miles south of Semna, Kulubnarti continued to be occupied after the Christian period. Excavation done by William Y. Adams in 1969 revealed that the community had no uniform domestic architecture, with houses ranging from rectilinear to circular, perhaps suggesting ethnic diversity. For example, many houses were built of brick, some were made of stone, and some featured a combination of the two. Rectangular and round rooms were intermixed. However, most of the houses had two levels, a typical feature among Christian architecture. Kulubnarti also features a late medieval castle with thick walls and vaulted chambers and a church with evidence of the production of palm fiber mats for roofs and palm used in sandals. In a vaulted tomb at Kulunarti, the deceased was placed on a bed with echoes from Kerma times. The dead were sometimes accompanied by jewelry, water jugs, and lamps, and they were wrapped in shrouds of woven textiles or blankets. Until destructive archaeology came along, most graves were left alone since grave goods were of low value. At most Christian burials in Lower and Upper Nubia, the orientation was generally east-west with the head on the west so that at resurrection the dead could rise and face the rising sun. Overwhelmingly, the deceased were on their backs in a narrow grave, but in very rare cases, such as Abu Erteila and Soba, a very few were buried face down for reasons unknown. Broadly speaking, life expectancy in Christian times was relatively low, so that most Christian cemeteries are heavily represented with infants and juveniles. On the other hand, elite members of society are known to have had normally long lives. At various Nubian graveyards, one may assume that upper respiratory infections and gastroenteritis were common killers, as well as malaria and other parasitic diseases that have long histories in the Nile valley.

L LITERACY AND LITERATURE OF CHRISTIAN NUBIA. Literacy among the Nubian elite was fairly extensive for a long time. Previous millennia had brought exposure to all forms of hieroglyphics—namely, Middle Kingdom classical, as well as hieratic and demotic. Contiguous relations with Greeks and Roman had brought familiarity with Greek and Latin (to a limited extent). During Greco-Roman times, Meroitic writing of a Nubian language was widely known in Nubia and was no doubt stimulated by demotic forms from Egypt. So it was that, in the continuing Christian times, Greek and Coptic was common, and as with Meroitic, this inspired Nubians to write their own language in Old Nubian in largely Greco-Coptic letters, with a few extra letters for Nubian phonetics. While lexicons exist in Old Nubian, the struggle to decipher Meroitic still has a long way to go without an extensive bilingual text. Since Meroitic and Old Nubian are rather close in time and are likely derived from similar Nobi’in dialects, it is tempting to think that the key to decipherment might be found in this relationship. Sadly Meroitic texts are pre-Christian and are largely military, funerary, and economic, while Old Nubian texts are heavily focused on legal statements and Christian religious matters so that the available lexicons are not convergent, overlapping, or bilingual. Islam and Arabic enter the region toward the end of Christianity, and the modern dialectics of Nobi’in have not yet been correlated with Old Nubian or Meroitic. Arabic tombstones, texts, and inscriptions increase rapidly thereafter, and Arabization has presented a problem for the preservation and teaching of Nubian languages and culture. LONGINUS. Longinus was the successor to the missionary Julian and was another Monophysite missionary during the Christian period in Nubia. After facing obstacles from the Melkite (orthodox) Christians, Longinus disguised himself to escape their authority and traveled to Nubia in about 569 CE. He evangelized and rebuilt the clerical staff at Dongola from 570 CE until about 575 CE when he returned to Alexandria. The sectarian disputes between the Melkites and Monophysites were still roiling, and the Alexandrian patriarchate forbade Longinus from returning to Nubia in 578 CE, when requested 115



to do so by the king of Alwa and Soba. The Melkites said that Longinus was not empowered to baptize or ordain clerics, but the Alwa king prevailed and wanted to follow the same Monophysite tradition formerly rooted at Mukurra. After these political negotiations were resolved, Longinus still had to face many hardships, since Mukurra was then under Melkite control and they refused to allow him to pass through their territory. Dodging their authority, Longinus took the dangerous desert route from Korosko through Blemmye lands far to the east of the Nubian Nile. At long last, he reached the kingdom of Alwa to baptize its king and meet with fellow Monophysites from the Christian church of Axum. LOWER NUBIA. Lower Nubia is usually considered to be the stretch of the Nile from the first to second cataract, or in modern terms, from Aswan (Syene, Swen) to the modern Egypto-Sudanese border (now under the waters of Lake Nubia / Lake Nasser). Ancient references considered this region to be Wawat, and Greco-Roman references referred to the region as the Dodekaschoenos. This region was the main point of contact or conflict between Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia so often that it was the region of major military fortification and/or colonial administration (as with the king’s son or viceroy of Kush through the long history of relations between the two peoples). In medieval times, the importance of Lower Nubia also rested on its access to the eastern gold mines of Wadi al-Allaqi, the caravan routes to the west to Selima oasis, and the desert route from Korosko to Abu Hamed. Following the declaration of King Silko, this was the starting point for institutional Christianity in Nobatia after defeating the Blemmye rulers of the XGroup. The fact that Nobatia was annexed by Mukurra for security reasons again reveals the contested nature of this territory. This is also evidenced in the rise of the Kanz al-Dawla from this region as he took over Dongola. In short, when Egypt was weak or internally divided, Nubians, such as those from Kerma, Napata, Meroë, or in medieval Christian kingdoms, occupied Lower and Upper Nubia. When Egypt was strong, this relationship was reversed, and Nubians were driven out, were occupied, or were forced into agreements such as the baqt.

X-Group Crown, Nubian Museum.

Fresco of Madonna holding the infant Jesus and protecting a Nubian princess, from Faras cathedral. Original mural removed to the Sudan National Museum, Khartoum.

Christian Lamp, Sudan National Museum, Khartoum.

Royal bird protected by the cross, from the cover of Stefan Jakobielski’s Nubia Christiana (Warszawa: Akademia Teologii Katolickiej, 1982).

Saint Ann, grandmother of Jesus, Faras cathedral. Mural image in Sudan National Museum.

Mausoleum or martyrion of Old Dongola, period II, from Stefan Jakobielski’s Nubia Christiana (Warszawa: Akademia Teologii Katolickiej, 1982), 86.

Cathedral of Faras, period III, from Stefan Jakobielski’s Nubia Christiana (Warszawa: Akademia Teologii Katolickiej), 98.

Christian-period fishing net with wooden floats, Sudan National Museum.

Dongola destroyed, inscribed roof column.

Dongola destroyed, fallen rafters.

From the 1631 Latin map of Nova Barbariae Descripto by Johan Jasson. Note the mention of the Christian kingdom Nubia, Dangala, and “two Niles according to Ptolemy.” Courtesy of the Lobban African Map Collection, No. 82201631.

From the 1655 French map of Haute Éthiopie by royal geographer Sanson d’Abbeville, Paris. Note that two Nubian Niles are indicated, along with Assuana (Aswan), Dancala (Dongola), the Island of Meroë, the bifurcation of the Niles upstream of Meroë, and Nubie to the west—all in the Royaume de Éthiopie. Courtesy of the Lobban African Map Collection, No. 82201631.

From the 1749 French map of Nubie Abissinie by Robert de Vaugondy (son of the royal geographer), Paris. Note Mahasses (Mahas), Keens (Kenzi), Nubians, the Barabra (Nubians) and toponyms for Ibrim and Dongola, Corti (Korti, elbow of the Nubian Nile), and the Bugiens (Beja). Courtesy of the Lobban African Map Collection, No. 82201631.

Archangel Michael (Daniel 3:8–30) protecting believers from burning, Faras cathedral, Sudan National Museum.

Old Nubian alphabet, from J. Martin Plumley and Gerald M. Browne’s Old Nubian Texts from Qasr Ibrim I (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1988), 4.

Modern Egyptian Coptic crosses. Courtesy of the Lobban Collection.

Old Nubian parchment text fragment from Qasr Ibrim (hair and flesh sides), from J. Martin Plumley and Gerald M. Browne’s Old Nubian Texts from Qasr Ibrim I (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1988), 47.

M MAHARRAKA. See MAHARRAQA, MAHARRAKA, HIERASYKAMINOS. MAHARRAQA, MAHARRAKA, HIERASYKAMINOS. This Roman region and related temple was originally located on the left (west) bank of the Nile just upstream of Wadi al-Alaqi, around 30 kilometers from its present site. Today it is just below the Dakka temple. It looks eastward over a vast stretch of Lake Nasser. It was built to honor Isis, and Serapis, a popular syncretic deity of Greco-Roman Egypt. The remains of the temple of Maharraqa are not very large and only lightly inscribed in some interior places. During its functional period, it served largely as a Roman territorial marker when they controlled this region of Lower Nubia. In fact, the temple was not completed because of the withdrawal of Roman control. There is no clear indication of subsequent use in Meroitic or Christian times. Its complete former structures could not be fully restored. Its hypostyle hall is now its main structure, but a corner staircase leads to the roof level. Paintings by Hector Horeau and David Roberts in 1838 showed it in a poor condition with the outer wall collapsed. When relocated in 1965 by UNESCO, it was restored to some extent and placed on its new site. MAKURIA. See MUKURRA, MAKURRA, MAKURIA, MAKOURIA, MUKURIA; AL-MUQURRA (ARABIC); MACCURITAE (LATIN). MAKURRA. See MUKURRA, MAKURRA, MAKURIA, MAKOURIA, MUKURIA; AL-MUQURRA (ARABIC); MACCURITAE (LATIN). MAMLUKES (1250–1517). The Mamlukes were professional soldiers following the Shiite Fatimid (969–1169 CE) and Sunni Kurdish Ayyubid (1171–1250 CE) Islamic dynasties that had ruled Egypt. They gained so much administrative skill and military strength that, for two and a half centuries, they became rulers themselves. Mamluke armies were built around arch117


MAMLUKES (1250–1517)

ers (with recurved long bows and crossbows), spearmen, infantry with swords and battle axes, cavalry forces with quilted and mailed body armor, and helmets for both men and horses. Siege engines and naphtha fireballs were also used to make them a formidable fighting force. In 1244 CE, the Mamlukes were still working with the Ayyubids in defeating the Crusades led by French king Louis IX. However, the Ayyubid sultan Al-Salih Ayyub died in this battle, and his son, Turanshah, was put in power. The Mamlukes revolted and killed Turanshah. This tumult in 1249 brought a rare woman, Al-Salih’s widow Shajarat ed-Durr, to power who was then remarried to her new Mamluke husband, Al-Mu’izz Aybak, until his assassination in 1257; she remained in power until her murder a bit later. Aybak’s son, Al-Mansour ‘Ali, became the next sultan. In this bloody manner, the Mamlukes gained their foothold in the Nile valley and continued their struggle for regional power and their military struggles against the Crusades as well as against Nubian Christians who had had peaceful relations with the Fatimids and previous Egyptian dynasties through the longenduring baqt treaty. Conventionally the Mamlukes are divided into the Bahri (1250–1382 CE) and Burji (1382–1517 CE) Mamlukes. The Bahri Mamluke sultan Al-Zahir Baybars (1260–1277) invaded Nubia to try to make them a vassal state and renew baqt payments, which they paid again in 1264; in 1268, King Dawud refused to pay the baqt and then attacked the Mamlukes in Aswan in 1275 CE. The Mamlukes also feared that the Nubians would conspire with the Crusaders, and they attacked Dongola in 1276 and captured King Dawud. Indeed, military clashes and raids continued between Nubians and the Mamlukes from 1275 to 1289 CE and really on into the 14th century. The great Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) straddled the times of the Bahri and Burji Mamlukes and offers many details about their administrations. The Mamlukes put the greatest military pressure on Nubia among all Muslim dynasties. After the assassination of King Shekanda, King Barak came to power in Dongola, but Mamluke sultan Al-Mansur Qalawun (1279–1290 CE) soon ordered Barak to be killed and then ordered Shemamun to be installed as his vassal as long as he paid the baqt. It was during the Bahri Mamlukes that Nubian rulers from Shekanda to Shemamun and on to Kudanbes and Barshambu faced the challenges of the transition from Christianity to Islam. A second sultan, Nasir ibn Qalawun, sent a new military and regime-change mission to Dongola in 1315–1316, and at last the Christian palace at Dongola was turned into a Muslim mosque in 1317 CE with Barshambu becoming the first puppet Muslim ruler of Dongola still during the aggressive times of the Bahri Mamlukes. The Burji Mamlukes were brought to an end in 1517 with the Ottoman invasion and their Turkish Empire building.

MANETHO (323–245 BCE)


MANDULIS (MARUL, MARUR, MENRULI, MERWEL IN NUBIAN; AION IN GREEK). Mandulis is the common Greco-Roman name for this Blemmye and/or Nubian sun god. The Greeks first sought to cultivate the worship of Mandulis as early as the 3rd century BCE. The Romans continued this practice to honor and thereby win the loyalty and respect of the local Blemmyes. As the political motivation for celebration of this Blemmye god deepened, the Romans apparently sought greater control by developing an oracular tradition for this god that could be manipulated by their appointed priests. Mandulis was an important deity for religious pilgrimages and for oracular shrines in Greco-Roman times. The Roman practice of oracle shrines was similar to what Trajan also did in the Kysis temple at Dush in Kharga oasis in the western desert of Egypt. Mandulis was a son of Horus and thereby a part of the great Osiris-Isis cosmogony. In this context, he can be shown with Isis. Mandulis was depicted as a local Nubian anthropomorphic sun god, and as such, he had some affinities to the sun god Re. He usually wears the composite plumed and horned atef crown. His best-known center of worship was at Kalabsha, where he was endowed with healing powers. Kalabsha is the site of the famous King Silko inscription. Probably Kalabsha (ancient Talmis) was also a Roman garrison town as well. Mandulis is also known at Dendur temple and in a mostly destroyed small Roman chapel at the eastern colonnade at the Philae temple. The Kalabsha temple was probably first built in the 18th dynasty, but it was reconstructed probably by Ptolemy V and Ptolemy X and, especially, by the Romans under Augustus. Mandulis and perhaps Dedun, the god of incense, was worshipped in Lower Nubia at least until the 5th century CE, when Christian emperor Justinian I closed the Philae temple. See also PTOLEMY III TO PTOLEMY XV. MANETHO (323–245 BCE). Working from still existing king lists, this 3rd-century-BCE historian-priest organized the chronology of ancient Egypt in his Aegyptica. This work was probably instigated by Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II in their efforts to collect knowledge from all known sources for the development of the great library of Alexandria with its large Jewish population. Manetho created the framework of 30 pharaonic dynasties that continues to be standard for the study of ancient Egypt and Nubia. Manetho was the Egyptian high priest at the temple of Sebennytos in the Delta, and his work was luckily, but only partially, perpetuated by some of the early Christian priests who must have recognized its historic value and copied from his original that would have been lost. Such historians as Eusebius and Josephus also preserved some of the writings of Manetho so larger parts of his original work can be reconstructed. The inclusion of astronomical events and king lists make the foundational work of Manetho key in calibrating the calendar of ancient Egyptian and Nubian history.



MARK, SAINT. Saint Mark was a disciple of Saint Peter, but these early times have left little record since the communities were small and under periodic Roman oppression. He was born as a Levite Jew in Pentapolis in Cyrenaica, Libya, and reportedly had personally met Jesus. Saint Mark’s first convert to Christianity was a Jewish cobbler in Alexandria named Ananias. Saint Mark became the first patriarch of Egyptian Christians and the founder of its first church where he preached from 61 to 64 CE. He then went to Rome but returned to Egypt from 65 to 68 CE when he was martyred by a pagan mob. Apparently his cousin was Saint Barnabas, and his father’s cousin was Saint Peter who was also martyred. Origen (185–254 CE) and Athanasius (295–373 CE) both studied at the Christian school in Alexandria started by Saint Mark. They brought Christianity into sharper focus from the 2nd to 4th centuries long after Saint Mark was martyred. Origen followed Clement (160–215 CE) in the Catechetical school in Alexandria in around 201 CE. He was first a student under Pantaenus and Clement and then taught there for 28 years, while also traveling and lecturing widely and writing extensively. Nubia was geographically and theologically situated between the governing bishops of Alexandria and the Christian kingdom of Axum in Ethiopia. However, since these two reference points were outside of the mainstream of orthodox Christianity of Constantinople so also was Nubia. There are claims that the Meroitic eunuch reported in the Acts of the Apostles as noted in the Bible should be credited with being the first Christian in Nubia. Whether this earliest Nubian Christian studied in Alexandria before the death of Saint Mark is not known, but one may say it was possible, or soon after, since he traveled to the Holy Land through Egypt. Christians of the Nile valley experienced isolation because they were followers of Monophysitism, which had been influenced by Arianism and the teachings of Origen, whose impact had been limited in the period before the institutional acceptance of state Christianity in Nubia. Origen was a major conservative theologian of early Christianity, and he was an active participant of the sectarian and theological debates in Alexandria and eastern Mediterranean Christianity. Clement and Philo influenced him. His very scholarly research into ancient chronology and the precise Jewish translation of the Septuagint led to his major work titled Hexapla. Since his father had been martyred, he was much driven by the martyr complex and was eager to have a strict interpretation of Christian interpretation, especially if it would support his preference for austerity and his great vigilance against perceived evil. Similar to the Monophysites, Origen understood that Christ and God were one but subordinate since Christ was the son of God and he was only a mediator or route through whom God might be reached. Relics of Saint Mark were protected and treasured in Egypt until 644 CE when they were stolen and put in a cathedral in Venice, but in 1968, a few were returned to Egypt.



MASMAS. The site of Masmas is located in Lower Nubia on the west bank of the Nile just downstream from Toshka West. In the Second Intermediate period, Masmas was the home of a late C-Group population that used a small cemetery there. It was reoccupied in the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom. Meroitic tombs at Masmas had their customary polychrome-painted pottery with flowered and geometric designs, ankhs, and some with images of frogs, birds, and humans. At Nag Sawesra, near to Masmas, the Spanish investigated a very early Christian cemetery. Christian tombs there were of considerable stylistic variation, including one double-ended grave with multiple burials. A stone funeral marker written in Coptic was in this context. L. P. Kirwan and Walter Emery investigated Masmas in the early 20th century. The Spanish excavation was by Martin Almagro, Eduarado Ripoll, and Luís Monreal Graves during the Nubian salvage campaign from 1960 to 1962. MEASURES. There are many missing, or imperfectly known, measures in use in Mukurran medieval times. The Coptic calendar and flood seasons gave an idea of the annual passage of time. Sundials and marked candles were known in Meroitic times, so they may have continued. Bulk dry measures for grain or dates used the ardeb, which was equal to roughly 200 liters. The qintar was equal to around 100 pounds. The rotl was equal to roughly 1 pound. The dinar was a gold coin of changeable value, and the one-eighthounce dirham was minted in silver. Land was measured by habls, or ropes of a fixed length for irrigated gardens. It is not clear when feddans were introduced to measure field areas. MEDJAY, MATOI, MAZOI, MEDJAYIU (PL.). Medjay is just one of the variant spellings of this semi-settled ethnic group located especially in the Nubian desert between the Nile and the Red Sea. They were also found west of the Nile in the Libyan desert but probably in lesser numbers. In the accounts of Merenre of the 6th dynasty, they are termed the “Matoi,” and they were very highly valued as soldiers in the Egyptian army. The Coptic language preserved the word matoi to mean “soldier.” They are probably the same as the people known archaeologically as the Pan-Grave Culture, socalled for the shape of their shallow flex burials. The Medjay’s ancient hostility or rivalry with the settled Nubians often meant that there was an inherent division that could be exploited by the rulers of Egypt. Consequently, the Medjay have been long employed by Egyptians, or the rulers of Egypt, as scouts, border guards, and police especially in this region. When they served as mercenary troops, they were especially noted for their fast infantry or, later, cavalry attacks from the desert that offered



strategic advantage over the settled peoples. Since one of their local deities was Dedun, the god of incense, a local trade item, the Medjay were sometimes known simply as the Dedu, or followers of this patron god. Occupying an intermediary position between Egyptians and Nubians, the Medjay were used in divide-and-rule and cooptation strategies of regional control. In Greco-Roman times, the people of this region were termed either Troglodytes (“Cave Dwellers”) or Blemmyes. In post-Meroitic and Christian times when the Noba intruded into this region, it was probably Medjay or Blemmyes (later termed X-Group or Ballana people) who were subordinated if one may judge correctly from the important King Silko inscription at Kalabsha temple. These same peoples are those known ethnographically as the Bisharin in Egypt or Beja peoples in the Sudan. They belong to the TuBedawie or Cushitic language group. Today they are heavily Arabized and Islamized, but they still retain various aspects of their independent culture, especially vis-à-vis settled Nubians. MEINARTI. Meinarti is a flat alluvial island located in Lower Nubia near the second cataract between Buhen and Mirgissa, famed for Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom fortresses. It was used as a military relay fort during the New Kingdom. In Meroitic, post-Meroitic, and Christian times, it featured a small agricultural village that measured more than one-quarter of a hectare (about a half acre). Also known as the “Island of Michael,” this island was reoccupied during the Meroitic period and continued to be used through the Christian Middle Ages (200–1400 CE). It was also used during the Ballana and X-Group periods; much of what is known about Ballana village life comes from this site. Among its duties Meinarti served as a customs post, marking the northern front of the Lower Nubian free-trade zone and the Upper Nubian closed zone. The original Meroitic settlement consisted of various public buildings, such as temples, market areas, and winepresses, all surrounded by houses. The winepress is one of a dozen in the region. However, it is one of only two indoor presses; another is featured at Wadi al-Arab. The stratigraphy of Meinarti provides valuable information on its social and economic changes from beginning to end. Floods during its long uninterrupted existence repeatedly damaged Meinarti’s archaeological sites. MEK (MAK, MEEK). A title used by some traditional chiefs in the Sudan, mek is likely a term of Meroitic origins meaning a local king/prince versus qore or regnant king. A very late use of this term was for Mek Nimr, the king of Shendi (near Meroë), who was famous for his resistance to the Turkish invasion in 1821.

MEROË (CA. 270 BCE–CA. 340 CE)


MEMPHIS. Memphis has an extremely ancient history in the Nile valley as it served as the first capital of a unitary Egyptian state. Its deep traditions, necropolis, and iconography have long been important in Egyptian religion and history. Since Memphis was at the southern point of Lower Egypt, its practical relationship with Nubia was remote, but it was certainly venerated as a holy place by Nubians. Memphis figures more directly in Nubian history when it was involved in Piankhy’s Nubian takeover of that city and the Delta in the formative period of the 15th dynasty, which could be said to be a model for Christianity to be rebuilt on the Egypto-Nubian Nile from 312 to 639 CE, or the period from the main acceptance of Christianity to the arrival of Islam. Seeking legitimization, the Nubian pharaohs of this dynasty used Memphite traditions such as the coronation of Apis bulls and frequent reference to Ptah, especially by Shabaka in the closing years of Taharka, both of whose names are mentioned in the Bible. MERKURIUS, MERCURIUS, KING. Merkurius was the single monarch of the joined kingdoms of Dongola (i.e., Mukurra) and Nobatia during the reign of Eparch Markos of Nobatia who represented the crown at Faras. These kingdoms were unified under his rule in the late 7th century (ca. 697 CE) to improve their defensive position against Muslims expanding in Egypt. With this strong defense, he was sometimes termed the “Constantine of Nubia.” Egyptian Muslims referred to the “kingdom of the Nuba” to define this newly unified state. The more exposed territory of Nobatia had already, and exclusively, signed the peace treaty or baqt with Egypt, and it is clear they needed additional alliances with Mukurra. King Merkurius is known from an inscription in his 11th year (707 CE) in the five-aisled church of Faras. He is also known from an inscription in his 13th year from Tafa. Despite his geographical and religious isolation, King Merkurius persisted in following the Monophysite faith of the Alexandrian patriarch. Although in line of royal descent, Merkurius’s son Zacharias did not assume the throne, preferring more religious duties, and the crown of the joint Christian kingdom passed to King Simon. MEROË (ca. 270 BCE–ca. 340 CE). Meroë is the general name for the state that prevailed in Nubia from the early 3rd century BCE until its close in around 340 CE. As far as it is presently understood, Meroë represents a linear dynastic sequence from the earlier Napatan state, which is a continuation from the 25th dynasty or even before. At some point in the 3rd century BCE, the capital was moved from Napata to Meroë, thus initiating the Meroitic period when the reigning monarchs were no longer buried in the royal cemeteries around Napata but, instead, were buried in the royal pyramid necropolis of Bejrawiya at Meroë. It persisted until its deteriorating economy, and



perhaps ecology and wood fuel for iron production made it susceptible to foreign aggression. In this instance, the attack came from the newly formed Christian kingdom of Axum led by King Ezana. Patrice Lenoble believes that Hobagi represented a weak effort to perpetuate the Meroitic leadership, but without inscriptions, this case remains plausible but not proven. At his death, King Arkamani (r. 270–260 BCE) became the first to be buried at Meroë (Bejrawiya), northeast of modern Shendi. Thus, it was apparently between the reigns of Nastasen and Arkamani that the Kushite capital was shifted from Napata to Meroë. At Meroë, the Kushitic traditions continued for another 600 years, long after the “mother society” of dynastic Egypt had vanished. Notable features of Meroitic society were the expansion of Meroitic writing; the continued construction of pyramids in the Nubia/Sudan (a greater number than even in Egypt); the export of cattle, elephants, and other livestock to the Greeks and Romans; and the significant production of iron implements. Also significant is that Meroë had the biblical reference to the first Christian convert, a royal Meroitic slave/servant as reported in the Acts of the Apostles. Certainly Meroë existed as a trading center during the Napatan period. Among its many prominent features was an Isis temple, an Apedemek temple, large city walls and a royal compound, and impressive hills of iron slag that must have been produced there in great quantity over a long period of time. Nonroyal cemeteries lie nearby, and royal cemeteries lie further to the east on a ridge. Numerous pyramids and funerary shrines dot the landscape. In a more comprehensive and stylistic sense, Meroë may refer to the socalled Island of Meroë or the Butana region of the eastern Sudan. As such, it includes the other important sites of the same period such as Naqa, Musawwarat es-Sufra, and Basa, as well as sites occupied as far away as Lower Nubia, that are certainly related judging from common ceramic traditions and Meroitic inscriptions. Facing economic and ecological challenges in the early 4th century CE, as well as incursions by the eastern Beja people, Meroë was vulnerable to attack, and sometime well before 350 CE, the Christian Axumites from Ethiopia invaded and destroyed Meroë. After Meroitic civilization ended, it was replaced by the syncretic X-Group peoples. The ancient Sudan was over, and it entered another “Dark Age,” which lasted until the rise of the Christian kingdoms in the 6th century CE. MEROITIC: DECIPHERMENT. The historical analysis of the rise of Meroitic writing is essential in forming the strategies for the decipherment of Meroitic. Epigraphers still wish to find a substantial bilingual text in Meroitic to compare to the famed Rosetta stone critical in Egyptian hieroglyphic decipherment. Such is still possible since the Meroites and Greeks were in prolonged interaction. Perhaps some extensive bilingual texts in Meroitic demotic, Greek, Latin, or Axumite may be found in Meroë to help. Yet, it is



sometimes forgotten that the Rosetta stone for Egyptian hieroglyphics and demotic only started the process of decipherment. This second and much slower process was possible through the many cognates between ancient Egyptian and Coptic. Thus, the transliteration of Meroitic letters has been achieved and is generally accepted. The chief barrier for further advancement has been the debate about the linguistic affiliation with Meroitic and other cognatic languages, especially in the absence of a long bilingual text. Early researchers had small lexical databases and few established written forms of modern Nubian dialects so that path grew cold, and many sources suggest that there is no relationship between Meroitic and modern Nubian dialects that belong to the Sudanic language family. In my own studies, I see some overlaps in modern Nubian dialects and Old Nubian (essentially a liturgical Nubian written in Coptic letters). Similarly there are some shared words and meanings between Old Nubian and Meroitic at least as far as this language is understood. Certainly they share many parallel phonetic patterns that make further comparisons worthwhile. A sophisticated and very speedy computer program developed by Adam Gerard, Helene Longpre, Monica Ouelette, Kharyysa Rhodes, and Melissa Talbot has helped create a substantial lexicon with known meanings from Egyptian demotic, Old Nubian of Christian times, and modern Nubian dialects. The program rapidly searches for consonantal clusters and sequences that have some congruence with conventionally transcribed Meroitic words, which now number well over 1,000. Certainly the process is not neat or linear, but it has found some cognates in these languages with Meroitic. This gives a basis for hypothesis generation and contextual testing in the absence of the sought-after bilingual text. This process is by no means complete, but it has been more productive than expected. The known meanings have been determined by contexts such as royal and official titles, funerary contexts, shared deities, toponyms, genders, numbers, and ethnicities so that we can be rather sure about the general meanings of texts while searching for intermediary words, grammatical rules, and spelling variations. The comparative computer-driven word search strategy can at least generate new hypotheses for alternative or possible words that can proceed to fill in additional missing information. Considering that this is the oldest written African language on the continent, aside from hieroglyphics, the mission to decipher Meroitic has received some new impetus in recent years. Increasingly, scholars and members of the public are reexamining Nubian and African culture and history. A major role in advancing this work has taken place in the pioneering effort by French scholars such as Jean Leclant to create the systematic computer-based system known as REM (Repertory of Meroitic Epigraphy) and in the huge effort by the Bergen, Norway, scholars, including Tormod Eide, Tomas Hägg, Richard Holton Pierce, and László Török, who have created the marvelous primary database known as the Fontes Historiae Nubiorum, which unifies most of the known



written documents of ancient Nubian history. With these sources, computers, and patience, the problem of Meroitic will be solved one day, perhaps with the discovery of more cognates in Old Nubian. Once Francis Lloyd Griffith had his breakthrough with Meroitic hieroglyphs, he could relatively easily move to the next stage with the realization that every glyph had a corresponding demotic form, which could be confirmed by substitution and cross-checking. Aside from some adjustments introduced by the computer age, Griffith’s system of transliteration has been confirmed in numerous ways. The borrowing of some demotic letters presages a similar process in rendering Old Nubian into Coptic or Greek letters. Again, this should not be understood to link these languages etymologically or conceptually but only to borrow a writing form during their common Christian periods. Another attempt was briefly made in the 19th or 20th century to render Nubian languages into Arabic letters. At present, some linguists and Nubian cultural promoters such as Herman Bell and Jalal Hashim are seeking to transcribe and regularize modern Nubian in Latin or Coptic letters. See also INSCRIPTIONS. MIAPHYSITE. This sectarian Christian interpretation prevailed in the 6th century CE especially with its important adherent, Empress Theodora, wife of Emperor Justinian I, who was, by contrast, an ardent pro-Chalcedonian. The dispute persisted through the 12th century CE but has lingered on in various forms until the present in the theological disputes prevalent in Oriental (especially Antiochian) Christianity. Miaphysitism (perhaps better termed henotheism) sought a middle ground, on the one hand, between Arianism and Monophysitism prevailing in the Alexandrian patriarchate and, on the other, orthodox Chalcedonian Trinitarianism. Henotheism or Miaphysite beliefs accept the plurality of divinity (i.e., Jesus was both human and divine) but that God is the highest authority. This view was supposed to be not as “bad” as the “rejectionist” Monophysites, but it was still non-Chalcedonian and thus against the Orthodox view. Arianism was rejected by the 325 CE Council of Nicaea and reaffirmed in 381 CE by the Council of Constantinople. These disputes revolved around the “nature” of Jesus Christ. Was Jesus human or divine or both or separate at various points? Ultimately, this ineffable question was more about the national politics, personal ambitions, and regional strength of the adherents. More theologically, the Miaphysite’s middle-of-the-road approach was, according to Cyril of Alexandria, non-Chaledonian but not anti-Chalcedonian; it was non-Dyophysite (Antiochian) or non-Nestorian, but Jesus did have a unity of his “two natures,” both human and divine. This view was rejected by the 431 CE Council of Ephesus in modern Turkey. This council was called by Emperor Theodosius II and was also presided over by Cyril of Alexandria. Miaphysitism was non-Monophysite because this view believed



that Christ had these “two natures,” but Miaphysitism was not expressly antiMonophysite, such as in the case of Julian who missionized in Nubia under the support of Empress Theodora. Also, Miaphysitism did not accept Eutychianism, which insisted that Christ was fully and always divine; this view was rejected by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE. The Miaphysite view probably gained them some time or freedom, but ultimately compromise was not possible with the strict orthodoxy of Byzantine Christians. These councils’ efforts to “resolve” the disputes by accommodation or clarification only deepened the sectarian divisions in Christianity that have persisted globally and regionally until today; for example, most recently Ethiopia and Eritrea have declared separate patriarchates as they each have sought their own national definition of religious legitimacy. MILK RITUAL. The origins of Nubian milk rituals are very ancient; perhaps they go back to Nilotic herders or C-Group contemporaries of Kerma who had major roles for cows, bulls, and cattle in a variety of rituals. Dynastic Egyptian agriculture as well as the goddesses Isis and Hathor had symbolic roles for milk and milking. Certainly 25th-dynasty Nubian and Napatan times had fertility rituals with milk libations well recorded and illustrated. The elements of matrilineal descent with queen mothers, sororal marriages, and the important role of the God’s Wives of Amun resonated with the valorized role of milk. In Greco-Roman, Meroitic, and post-Meroitic times, pouring sacred milk libations from situla jars are well recorded in many scenes at the Isis temple at Philae as well as other temples in Lower Nubia. Goddess Isis is famed for nourishing baby Horus, and Goddess Hathor is equally known for nursing royalty. Milk libations are also well known on Meroitic hetep offering pallets. Solange Ashby, in her 2019 article “Milk Libations for Osiris,” published in Near Eastern Archaeology, discusses this ritual performed at Philae temple, which gives continuity from ancient times to Christianity. With Isis morphed into Holy Mary in Christianity and multitudes of images of Mary nursing Jesus as well as elements of matrilineal descent persisting in Nubia, milk remains symbolic of fertility and rebirth. Modern Nubians still use milk rituals for fertility when a groom sprays milk on his bride and for funerary purposes when a widow pours milk libations on her husband’s grave two days after burial. MONNERET DE VILLARD, UGO (1881–1954). Monneret de Villard was born on 16 January 1881 in Milan and died on 4 November 1954 in Rome. This notable architect and medieval archaeologist published widely on scores of topics directly related to Christianity in Nubia. Most notable and relevant would be La Nubia Medievale [Medieval Nubia] (Cairo, 1935–1957, four volumes); “Storia della Nubia Cristiana” [History of Christian Nubia];



Orientalia Christiana Analecta (Rome, 1938); Nubia Romani [Roman Nubia] (Rome, 1941); and Le Leggendi Orientali sui Magi Evangelici (Vatican City, 1952). MONOPHYSITE. The theological view of Monophysitism holds that Christ has wholly one divine nature rather than a parallel human nature. The humanity of Christ is excluded. This unitary view of Christ is that held by Egyptian Coptic Christians and their followers in Ethiopia and medieval Christian Nubia. Monophysites were also found in Syria, Cyprus, and Armenia as a theological expression of their political opposition to Greek orthodoxy. Although this is not the place for a major treatise on theological history, it is worth noting that the ancient Egyptian view of the highest god Amun was that he was invisible or hidden and was simultaneously universal. This view of a singular god is maintained with Monophysitism. Likewise, the relationship envisaged in ancient Egypt between God and the apparently human pharaoh was that the pharaoh was virtually a deity who was born of the “immaculate conception” of Amun and his consort Mut. Since Monophysites believed that Christ was divine, he was a god in a manner similar to deities in their polytheistic past. The transformation of the ancient Egyptian ankh into the Christian cross, and the presence of many holy trinities (triads) in ancient Egypt, gives evidence of the ongoing, syncretic evolution of Christianity in the Nile valley. This view was in opposition to that of the early Alexandrian Christian rivals, the Arians, who held that only God himself was divine and that Christ and the Holy Spirit were not. The effort to isolate the Arians in the 325 Council of Nicaea by Constantine I was welcomed by the Monophysites under their early patriarch Athanasius in Alexandria as well as Monophysites in Syria and even in Constantinople. But despite Athanasius’s flexibility, the western Roman church was not inclined to be so accommodating of Monophysite views as eastern and western Christianity began their separate paths. The Roman church favored a unity of church and state that was opposed by the Monophysites. However, the initial plurality of views about Christ in the early Christian church gave way to Trinitarian orthodoxy as the church and the imperial state of Christian Byzantium solidified. Beyond the theological differences, another dimension of this dispute rested upon the political (and perhaps the linguistic and national) independence of Egypt. The marginalization of Alexandria was implicit by Christian Greeks ruling from Byzantium. Certainly some educated and ruling Greeks and Romans held anti-Egyptian feelings. The opposite was also true among Egyptian elites who resented the foreign rulers in Egypt or from Constantinople. Egyptian Monophysitism was a regional or national reaction to this perceived threat. Their more dominant Trinitarian view was that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit were all divine and



that Christ thereby had “two natures” (i.e., Dyophysite), both divine and human. The issue of orthodoxy again came to a head in 451 CE at the Council of Chalcedon near Constantinople where it was determined that the Monophysite view was also heretical—that is, the declaration that Christ had both a divine and human nature was rejected by the Monophysites. Operating on this renewed theology, the Byzantine church removed the Monophysite bishop from Alexandria and installed a Dyophysite, Bishop Proterus, as the patriarch of Alexandria. The Monophysites were hugely provoked by this heavy-handed approach of Byzantium, and when a religious mob murdered Patriarch Proterus, the seeds for this long-lasting division were deeply sown. A failed effort to resolve this division in 482 CE was initiated by Emperor Zeno with his moderate proposal known as the Henoticon, which accepted some Monophysite views. The death of Emperor Anastasius in 518 CE was a great blow, as he had been a devout Monophysite and had advanced its interpretation with appointments of Monophysites in eastern Christendom, where the followers of Byzantium became known as “royalists” (melikiya [Melkite], in Arabic). Without the leadership of Anastasius, fissures erupted between these Melkite believers and the Monophysite Copts as well. By 565 CE, Emperor Justinian had managed to maintain control in Byzantium and the eastern Mediterranean and was asserting himself in Egypt and North Africa from the eastern Maghreb to Cyrenaica, which was recovered from the Vandals. He advanced still more to take over southern Spain, as well as Italy, which was recovered from the Ostrogoths. Egyptian Copts had not been diverted from their commitment to Monophysitism, and Justinian had to tread cautiously in this respect since he relied very heavily on the huge grain supplies from the Nile valley as had Romans in the past. Elsewhere he sought to expel those patriarchs with Monophysite views, but Egypt was handled more delicately. In fact, Egypt became a refuge for Monophysites being pursued elsewhere in the region. In 578 CE, Jacob Baraeus, a Monophysite from Antioch, carried on with propagating Monophystism with the support of Theodora. His involvement generated another name for the dispute, which began to be termed as the movement of the “Jacobites.” But when Arabs entered Egypt in 640 CE with their new prophetic religion, the Coptic Egyptians were much divided. They were weakened by the three centuries of theological division between Byzantium and Rome (over the accommodation of the Henoticon); between Byzantium and Alexandria (Dyophysite “Chalcedonians” and Monophysites); and in Alexandria (between Monophysites and Arians). Perhaps the still earlier heritage of Arianism already inclined them to see Christ and Muhammad in a similar light as humans with a divine mission.



Today Coptic or Monophysite Christianity still prevails among a large minority in Egypt and Ethiopia. Christianity survived for about a millennium in ancient Nubia but they had to wage a continuous diplomatic and military struggle against Islamic expansion. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA: RELIGIOUS SCHISMS. MUKURIA. See MUKURRA, MAKURRA, MAKURIA, MAKOURIA, MUKURIA; AL-MUQURRA (ARABIC); MACCURITAE (LATIN). MUKURRA, MAKURRA, MAKURIA, MAKOURIA, MUKURIA; ALMUQURRA (ARABIC); MACCURITAE (LATIN). Moving from Meroitic religion into the pre-Christian / post-Meroitic X-Group left Nubia in a receptive or vulnerable situation to allow Christianity to be rather rapidly instituted in a formal or institutionalized manner in the three Nubian kingdoms. Certainly Christians as individuals were very well known before, and Coptic and Axumite Christians already had many and complex impacts in Nubia. But once backed by the state, the traditions of Meroë and the XGroup, such as pyramids and huge grave tumuli with grave goods, were abandoned. Previous temples were converted to churches, and centuries of extensive building of new churches began. Precisely when Mukurra annexed Nobatia is not clear, but by 710 CE, Mukurran faith had turned to the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, which was the more deeply rooted regional belief as the Byzantine opposition to Monophysitism grew, while some few Egyptian Christians still held Melkite views. Egyptians had a much deeper experience with monasticism and Anchorites, since they had suffered grievously from Roman repression as seen in their AM calendar for the Year of the Martyrs (e.g., 637 AM = 921 CE, or 732 AM = 1016 CE). Monasticism, however, played only a small role for Mukurra, which had converted much later and without the same Roman brutality. In the 10th century, some Nubian Christians even had recourse to their own monastery in Wadi al-Natrun in Egypt, and perhaps the Mukurran religious retreats were built by Coptic refugees from Egypt. So, in its earliest official times (ca. 5th to 8th centuries CE), this Christian kingdom emerged in Nubia after the fall of Meroë and the intervening XGroup period. After the suppression of Christians by Diocletian and with the acceptance of Christianity by Constantine in the 4th century, Egyptians were free to exercise and spread their beliefs; however, Orthodox (Roman) Christianity was not accepted by the Monophysite Egyptian Copts, and tensions persisted. In the first third of the 7th century, Muslims arrived in Egypt, and since they promised security for, and respect of, the Copts as ahl al-kitab (“peoples of the book”), they were generally welcomed. So it was during these times that Christianity spread to Nubia in the form of three Christian



kingdoms of Nobatia with its capital at Faras; Mukurra with its capital at Dongola (Tungul in Old Nubian); and Alwa, with its capital at Soba. After an early attempt of Islamic conquest, tensions between Muslim Egypt and Christian Nubia were negotiated by the pact (baqt) on nonaggression, trade, and mutual respect that was observed, more or less off and on, for about seven centuries, making it one of the most enduring agreements in the history of world diplomacy. Mukurra is much better known than its neighbor Alwa to the south, but the knowledge of both is quite imperfect. Aside from the religious documents and epigraphy, there are important sources recorded by Arab travelers who visited Nubia in medieval times and often focused on military and security matters. An exception to this may be the reports by the Egyptian Ibn Selim al-Aswani who traveled to Dongola in the 10th century when Mukurra was at its strongest. Mukurra is notable in the period of Muslim expansion in Egypt and North Africa in that it resisted and blocked the Rashidun khalifate from expanding southward at the First Battle of Dongola in 642 CE. Saudi Arabs crossed into Egypt between 639 and 641 CE and expected other Christian rivals to quickly collapse, but even a decade later, in 652 CE at the Second Battle of Dongola, they were blocked once again, due to Mukurran defense on home ground and superior archers. This was one of the rare defenses against the Arab jihad that would sweep across North Africa. Presumably this was enough for the new Muslims, who turned instead to the baqt treaty with Christian Nubia to have a diplomatic and economic relationship when the military approach had failed. While Mukurra had survived the early Muslim attacks, it was realized that absorbing the Nobatian kingdom to the north would give strategic depth to Mukurra. At some point either before 652 CE or a few decades afterward (or perhaps even as late as the first third of the 8th century CE during the rule of King Merkurios), it was annexed by Mukurra, and the baqt was applied to both Lower Nubia and Middle Nubia north of Alwa. Such is the ambiguity of the historical record of this region at this time according to the description of “John the Deacon.” Unfortunately, the unitary kingdom or parallel kingdoms were sometimes called the kingdom of Dongola or the Christian kingdom of Nubia after the 7th century CE, so some confusion about the Christian nomenclature of Lower Nubia still persisted. On the other hand, Alwa, or Alodia, stayed as a separate entity until 1504 or long after Mukurra was converted to Islam. Even then Dotawo lingered on as a small Christian state, and indeed Christian communities in Middle Egypt (e.g., monasteries) and elsewhere carried on until the very present. Another measure of the relative autonomy of Christian Nubia in general and Mukurra in particular can be seen in the relative strength of enforcing the provisions of the baqt. Like the eternal relations along the Nile, when Egypt



was strong Nubia was weak, or perhaps, if Nubia were weak then Egypt could be strong. The opposite was also true. So it was with the baqt, which at its best could be a nonaggression and mutual security pact built on common commercial and security interests. When Egypt could not collect, it was largely because the Christian Nubians refused to pay, and the Muslim Egyptians could do little about it. When the baqt was restored, it was commonly for mutual benefit or because of Egyptian pressures and demands. To exemplify this paradigm, one may say that the kingdom of Mukurra was at its peak between the 9th and 11th centuries, during the reign of King Ioannes in the early 9th century when Egypto-Nubian relations were cut and the baqt payments stopped. When King Ioannes died in 835 CE, the Muslim Abbasids requested 14 back payments from Mukurra and warned of Egyptian invasion of Nubia if it was not paid. Under this threat, the new king, Zakarias, turned to renegotiation and diplomacy. Whether more interested in religious contemplation than on governance, he passed the crown to his son Georgios I who promptly traveled to Baghdad, via Cairo, to negotiate. The diplomatic result was a face-saving resumption of the baqt but with reduced payment on every third year rather than the former annual payments. King Georgios I returned to Nubia in either late 836 CE or early 837 CE and commemorated this achievement by building a new, tall, and grand cruciform church in Dongola. The famed “Throne Hall of Dongola” was constructed around the same time. Georgios I also played a prominent role in the story of Arab adventurer Al-Umari, who was to leave some independent historical remarks about these times. In any case, during the Shiite Fatimid times the relations between Islamic Egypt and Christian Mukurra were cordial and peaceful. No wars were recorded and both powers suffered from isolation, so they were in the need of economic, political, and military alliances. The Fatimids made heavy use of Nubian soldiers in their armies, and southbound trade in wine, grains, and cloth was matched with northbound trade in livestock, ebony, hides, and ostrich feathers as had been the case since dynastic times. Apparently, these times allowed the contemporary Mukurran rulers such as King George IV (r. 1131–1158, son of King Zacharias V?) to experiment with cultural and linguistic innovations to concentrate his powers and raise and legitimate his image by celebrating a cult of former Mukurran bishops, kings, and holy men; and with new regnant regalia, that itself may have been inspired by deeper contacts with Christian Soba. In contrast to the neighboring states of Nobatia and Alwa, the rulers of Mukurra appear to have initially converted to Orthodox rather than Monophysite Christianity in Nubia in around 569 CE. However, when it merged with, or really annexed, Nobatia to create the unitary kingdom of Dongola in the 690s CE, it had adopted the Monophysite view under the Alexandrian patriarchate. It is possible that this merger also gave more military strength to



resist Muslim aggression with the ability to withdraw further into Nubia and make the threatened buffer state of Nobatia as an integral part of the larger, less exposed, and more powerful state at Dongola. Certainly under King Merkurius of Dongola there was also a functional alliance with Alwa (Alodia) to the south that also had its security concerns with nomads and Axumites to the east across the Butana. Not surprisingly, this time and place allowed Mukurra to reach its climax, judging from the art and inscriptions, religious architecture, fine pottery, constructions, and territorial extent. Mukurra was probably at its height from the 9th to 11th centuries CE before its rule was again contested by Muslim encroachment. In 1172 CE or (888 AM), the king of Mukurra rode out on his horse to meet the Ayyubid Shams adDawla, and this was essentially the start of a long slide toward Islamization and the beginnings of the end of Nubian Christianity. With the annexation of Nobatia to the north, Mukurra controlled areas from Egyptian Nubia (at Aswan) all the way through the third cataract and past the fourth cataract and perhaps as far as modern Abu Hamad or even upstream of that point until it reached the Abwab boundaries of the southern Christian kingdom of Alwa. Its commercial influence also stretched to the west to control the desert trade route from northern Kordofan and on to Selima oasis with access to this route (“the Forty Days Road”) through Wadi Howar. Despite these efforts in Fatimid times to the 12th century, Mukurra was slowly entering a long decline, which accelerated in Mamluke times in the 13th, and early 14th centuries when the Dongola palace was turned into a mosque. A devastating plague in 1347 in Nubia did not help, and the Mukurran ability to resist the Mamlukes was further degraded and was perhaps related to the brief civil war in 1365, when the king was killed in a revolt by his nephew. This precipitated the king’s brother, whose domain was, by consequence, a shrinking kingdom, to flee to Jebel Addo (Dotawo), which briefly became the new capital of Mukurra. A glimmer of Christianity persisted at Dotawo between 1463 and 1484 under Christian king Joel, but this was not enough to provide for its rebirth. By the mid-to-late 14th century CE, steadily increasing threats from Muslim Egypt, the internal struggles for power, and nomadic attacks from the east and west, as well as trade that was shifting to the Red Sea, were all factors for the weakening of the Christian kingdom at Mukurra and, ultimately, for Alwa as well. These made the Nubian state weaker and weaker and more vulnerable. In its final phases, Mukurra lingered on as the small kingdom of Dotawo (in Old Nubian) from the 14th to the late 15th centuries, as Islam swept through the region. Even Dotawo had disappeared by the mid16th century when Nubia and other regions of Sudan were Islamized and Arabized.



The pottery of Christian Nubia is durable and found in abundance throughout the region, especially at town and religious sites. These pottery pieces are widely considered rich and varied examples of high-quality, wheel-turned ceramics that built on the previous tradition of Meroitic-turned fine ware. Ceramists usually divide the pottery into three historical periods. The first is from 550 CE to around 650 CE with the Muslim invasion of Nobatia or to 750 CE with the Umayyad collapse. These events put Christian Nubia more on its own ceramics path, especially with the major production facility at Faras. In the second period, lasting until 1100 CE, the pottery was painted with floral and zoomorphic scenes reminiscent of some Meroitic or Arabic patterns. In the last period, the declining Mukurra resumed more of the simpler Egyptian imports that perhaps relate to the trade and peace agreement of the baqt. Pottery-firing temperature skills had improved to give better control of colors. Aside from decorative and utilitarian pottery, other practical activities focused on basketry, weaving, mat making, and leather working as these materials were widespread. Metal working had a long history in Nubia so this included gold, silver, copper, bronze, and iron since the earlier Meroitic times. The actual administration of the Nubian kingdoms raises many questions. Clearly the king and bishop were the top two officials, and the local eparchs appear to act as regional viceroys or governors in charge of local trade or taxation. In the frontier regions, the eparchs apparently dealt with diplomatic, and perhaps security, matters. However, the kings were endowed with a sacred mission, and the bishops supported governance by the royal ruling class. There is no question that the Christian kingdoms were centralized states, but the degree to which their power devolved to the local level with princes or viceroys or the degree of “federalism” remains unclear. Since the history of Nobatia was truncated because of its annexation by Mukurra and since Alwa was more remote, the greatest knowledge is about Mukurra, which had some seven bishoprics. On the one hand, it appears that these bishops functioned under the authority of the Alexandrian patriarch rather than from the Nubian king. On the other hand, there certainly were many bishops of Nubian origins judging from their representations in mural art. The extent to which the titles and offices were hereditary may be more by practice and kinship than by official obligation or recruitment. One may say that the king made appointments by his authority, while the bishops legitimated this authority. There are no known cases of regnant queens during Nubian Christianity, but the role of the queen mother and matrilineal descent has played a key role at times. As for a military, clearly there were defensive structures and placement as well as walled settlements. Nubian archers were famed for their accuracy, and horse-mounted lancers were known. But evi-



dence about the command structure of armed citizens or an irregular militia is ambiguous, but perhaps there were at least frontier guards and patrols at the periphery and in walled towns as well as bodyguards for the king. While this record is incomplete, a look at medieval Byzantine or Muslim governance, administration, and military will give general parameters. As with the entirety of Nubian or Sudanese history, the backbone of the Nubian Christian economy rested in agriculture, animal husbandry, and artisanal crafts. The very arid environment required irrigation by the annual flood of the Nile and then by lifting water with a man-powered shaduf or keeyay (in Nubian) balance beam and then since Greco-Roman times with a saqia or essikalay (in Nubian) or animal-powered endless-geared chain of pottery “buckets” to deliver still more water to the fields. The main food crops included sorghum, barley, dates, onions, and lettuce. Livestock included donkeys, camels, sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, and horses. Dogs and cats were also common. Noncurrency trade in agricultural products and livestock was either local by barter or with Egypt, which had currency in contemporary Islamic times. Trade to the west to Darfur and to the east to Ethiopia certainly took place, but records of this are scarce. To the south, trade was for ebony, ivory, hides, and slaves as it had been for millennia. Slaves were a central part of the baqt, which existed, more or less, throughout all of the period of Christian Nubia and certainly thereafter in Mamluke and Ottoman times. Mukurra officially came to an end as a Christian kingdom in 1317 CE when its principal palace was converted into an Islamic mosque, while Muslims had been in Nubia since the 10th century at least. A bishop still functioned at Faras, the former capital of Nobatia, and many Christian practitioners persisted in their beliefs and practices there and in Dotawo. The remaining Christian kingdom of Nubia of Alwa at Soba carried on until 1504 when conquered by the Muslim Funj Sultanates. In the 15th century, the Faras cathedral, the church at Qasr Ibrim, and the “palace” at Dotawo were all closed. In 1518, a Nubian king was known, but his faith was unknown. When the Ottomans arrived in Lower Nubia in the 1560s, no formal trace of Christianity existed, and when they reached Upper Nubia (Sudan) in 1821, Christianity appeared to be no more. However, there were some lingering traces in Nubian families and customs. MURAL AND MANUSCRIPT EPIGRAPHY: CHRISTIAN TIMES. In Mukurran times after the annexation of Nobatia, four languages were in use, including Old Nubian, Coptic, Greek, and, finally, Arabic. Nubian was represented by two dialects: an early form of Nobi’in likely in use in Nobatia, and Dongolawi and Kenzi in the south and north of the Christian kingdoms, respectively. As early as the 8th century, Nobi’in was written on the basis of the Coptic alphabet with some three additional letters as the Coptic language declined in wide usage in both Nubia and Egypt. Most likely Nobi’in was the



common language, and Coptic lingered on for official religious purposes especially in the short period of Nobatia. Coptic also endured as a lingua franca within Egypt and the Coptic church. Illustrated manuscripts in Old Nubian are known from Serra East, Qasr Ibrim, and as far north as Edfu; there is less well preserved graffiti in Old Dongola. As Islam expanded in Egypt in the 7th and 8th centuries, Coptic refugees fled to Nubia and kept their language as a living matter. Nubian bishops and priests continued to study in Coptic in Egyptian schools and monasteries or in Greek, which still held prestige while it steadily became obsolete. By the 11th and 12th centuries, if not substantially before, Arabic was used and gradually overtook Coptic as the language of diplomacy and trade with Arabized Egyptian settlers and traders in northern Nubia. See also INSCRIPTIONS. MURAL ART: CHRISTIAN TIMES. Wall murals have presented some of the most important discoveries in salvage archaeology due to the flooding of Lower Nubia. The large cathedral of Faras had been completely filled with drifting sand, which managed to protect magnificent murals. Mural art also persisted at Qasr Ibrim, which was high above the rising waters. At several other sites and homes in Nobatia and Mukurra, wall murals are also found. Clearly the styles were heavily influenced by Byzantine, Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopian iconography with themes that were mostly biblical or religious scenes (such as the Nativity), as well as depictions of important apostles, archangels, saints, bishops, priests, local kings with Nubian skin tones, and knights on bridled horses defending their Christian lands (such as at Faras, Qustul, Abdallah Nirqi, and Abd al-Qadir). These frontier regions and towns had defense as a significant requirement. Painted images of crosses, pectorals, amulets, scepters, religious garments, and graffiti are also found. Various efforts have been made to put these murals in chronological order by variance in composition, technique, colors, styles, themes, and functional locations (e.g., apses, entrances, sacristies, baptistries, and stairways) in religious buildings. For example, Saint George (the most common royal name) is depicted slaying evil beasts. He is modeled after the eternal struggle of the Egyptian god Horus fighting the evil Seth. In the case of King Silko, he is depicted in the reused Kalabsha temple mounted on a horse attacking evil. Among the many famed images exhibited and stored in the Nubian Museum in Aswan, the National Museum in Warsaw, and the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum are the following: • Christ from Abu Oda (second half of the 7th century) • Saint Anna, Faras (8th century to the first half of the 9th century) • Warrior saint with spear and shield, Faras (9th century)



• Archangel Gabriel with sword, Faras (9th century to the first quarter of the 10th century) • Apostles Saint Peter and Saint John (first half of the 10th century) • Madonna and Christ Child, Faras (10th century) • Three youths in the Furnace, Faras (last quarter of the 10th century) • King Georgios III (r. late 10th century) • Theophany and Bishop, Abdallah Nirqi (late 10th century to the early 11th century) • Magi on horseback, Faras (late 10th century to the early 11th century) • Bishop Marianos with Christ Child and Mary Madonna, Faras (first half of the 11th century) • Decorated cross, Faras (11th century) • Nubian Official and Christ, Faras (12th century) • King Moses George (r. 1155–1190), probably ruled over Mukurra and Alwa • Baptism of Christ, Old Dongola (12th–13th centuries) • Warrior Saint, Meinarti (late 13th century to the mid-14th century) MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN RELATIONS, 639–1504 CE. One may say that this era begins with the Rashidun Arab Muslim conquest of Egypt (which was ruled by Christians at the time), or it may be said to begin when King Silko accepted Christianity. It could be said to have ended with the fall of Christian Dongola in 1317, but these attacks carried on until 1326 or at least until the final fall of the Christian kingdom of Soba in 1504 CE. Clearly Christianity existed in Meroë before this millennium, and traces of Christianity endured afterward. These nine centuries were, not surprisingly, characterized by peace at times (as with the famed baqt after 652 CE) and by war with its successes and failures as well. The first military efforts to invade Nubia from Egypt took place in the 7th century but were blocked by skilled Nubian archers. This resulted in the famed peace treaty known as the baqt, which provided for economic exchange, mutual respect for borders, and exchange of rebels. The baqt generally held but was often neglected as well. Then again there were borderland skirmishes back and forth from the 8th to 10th centuries with major, but failed, Muslim attacks during Ayyubid times in the 12th century with the Kanz al-Dawla, Turanshah. The final efforts to invade Christian Nubia were made by the Mamluke sultans Qalawum and Baybars in the 13th century, who employed military means and intrigue against King Dawud and his cousin Prince Shekanda, using kinship into Nubian matrilineal descent to gain Islamic legitimacy in the ruling elite in the early 14th century, with the last Christian king Kudanbes or the first Muslim king Barshambu seated in



Dongola in 1317 and steady conversion thereafter culminating in the collapse of Soba in 1504 and the rise of the Muslim Funj Sultanate. See also ISLAM IN NUBIA.

N NATAKAMANI (12 BCE–12 CE). This Meroitic king ruled from the Butana as a contemporary of Christ and perhaps at the time of the first biblical report of a Christian in Nubia. Natakamani ruled jointly with Queen Amanitore, and they were known for extensive restoration projects. These included restoration of the Napatan temples and the construction of his impressive lion-gated palace near to the Great Amun temple there at Jebel Barkal. He also built the famed “Lion Temple” at Naga. This temple shows King Natakamani before the lion-headed god Apedemak and the gods Horus and Amun. This iconography illustrates the replacement of Egyptian royal costumes with Meroitic styles. King Natakamani was buried in Pyramid 22 of Bejrawiya North. NERO, EMPEROR (54–68 CE). Jews and Christians were already present in Egypt and probably Nubia during the reign of Nero. He sent an exploratory expedition up the Nile to Meroë and beyond, into the Ethiopian highlands viewing various flora and fauna. For example, records of the expedition recounted sightings of rhinoceros, elephants, monkeys, green grass, and a description of the Sudd. The purpose of the expedition is not clear, but historians believe Nero was intending to organize a military conquest of Nubia. Pliny the Elder and Seneca have recorded the details of the expedition undertaken under the rule of Nero, a contemporary of Saint Mark. In the “Age of Persecution,” Nero’s brutal oppression of Christians and Jews was notorious, including the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul in the context of finding someone, or some religion, to blame for the burning of Rome in 64 CE. His assassination aborted whatever plans he may have had, and Nubia was spared Roman domination. NESTORIAN. During the formative period of state Christianity, especially in the 3rd to 5th centuries, there were many theological (i.e., political) disputes in the broad domain of Christology. Usually the debates were centered on the “nature” of Christ (whether human or divine), Mary’s relationship to God, and Christ’s relationship to a monotheistic god. Ultimately these dis139



cussions were about recruiting, uniting, and galvanizing followers as an expression of state legitimacy and authority since matters of faith and interpretation would not be susceptible to conventional or objective analysis. The earliest views of Origen (185–254 CE) held that the human Christ was of a lower order than the great and unknowable God. This idea carried on in the view of Arius (250–336 CE), who believed that Christ was a prophet but was mortal and God lived before and after him. This Arian interpretation was strongly rejected by the Monophysites who claimed that Christ was divine at birth, somewhat like the ancient Egyptian deities who were also divine at birth and the god Amun (especially in the New Kingdom) who was above all. As Nubia was converted to Christianity, often under Alexandrian authority, it usually followed the Monophysite view. When Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity in 312 CE, this dispute needed some sort of resolution. By this time, the Arians and the Monophysites were in antagonistic gridlock but were also opposed to the Dyophysite and later Trinitarian view of the Byzantine church, which saw the holy trinity of Father (God), Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. These contradictory and alternative views were initially tolerated especially as the Alexandrian church was led by Pope Athanasius, a Monophysite. The Council of Nicaea in 325 CE concluded that Arianism was a heretical view and was no longer accepted within the official Nicaean creed. While the Alexandrian Monophysites agreed with this point, they could not accept that Christ had two natures. He was divine and that was that. The orthodox Dyophysite view that Christ was both human and divine was not acceptable. The (second) Council of Constantinople in 381 CE tried again to “resolve” the dispute that only became deeper and more schismatic between Alexandria and Constantinople and went even further establishing the fully Trinitarian view. Amid these controversies, the theologian Nestorius (386–450 CE), who had very briefly served a patriarch of Constantinople (428–431 CE), presented still another view of radical Dyophysitism. Nestorius continued his opposition to Arianism and the Monophysite view that persisted in Egypt and Nubia, and thus the theo-political schism between Alexandria and Constantinople was now effectively permanent. However, the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE rejected the Dyophysite view of the Nestorians that opposed Christ’s union of humanity and divinity and was thus opposed to this “hypostatic” union. This council thereby concretized in the theological schism between Arianism and Monophysitism on one hand but also between Nestorian Dyophysites and Trinitarians on the other. The Nestorian view that Christ had two “natures” at various times was itself rejected by the 451 CE Council of Chalcedon, which insisted that Christ was god and established the Catholic



Orthodoxy as Trinitarian. While Nestorianism disappeared in Egypt and Nubia, it did not vanish entirely and was sometimes known as the Nestorian “Church of the East” in Persian and even Chinese churches. Other schisms in Christianity were to appear in Ethiopian, Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Melkite, and Antiochian churches. One the one hand, one may speculate that these deep and complex divisions made it more difficult to resist the spread of Islam in the 7th century. On the other hand, the earliest Christians experienced pagan Roman brutality, and even when Romans were Christian, there were “backsliding” problems; these various councils were perceived as marginalizing local and regional Christian patriarchates. Muslim promises of respected ahl al-kitab status and protected dimmi rights made for minimal Christian resistance to the new faith of Islam. NILE. The Nile River proper is 6,680 kilometers (4,150 miles) in length and ranges from the merge of the White and Blue Niles at modern Khartoum to the Delta along the southern shore of the Mediterranean. It is the world’s longest river with a prodigious history that brought ancient Nubia and Egypt to life in a symbolic and real way with its critical waters for irrigation and transport. The river flows northward so that Lower Nubia is to the north of Upper Nubia. Six cataracts or rapids punctuate the Nubian Nile. These make a natural series of demarcations in the river that have long proven to be natural points for military defense, break-of-bulk, trade and transport hubs, and political boundaries. The first cataract, coming upstream from Egypt, is at Aswan, which marks the northernmost extent of Nubia proper. The region between Aswan and the second cataract is termed Lower Nubia, or the Dodekaschoenos in Greek and Roman times. The second cataract has often been a frontier post for Egypt in both ancient and modern times. From the second to the third cataracts, the Nile is termed the Butn al-Hajar or the “Belly of Stones” since the riverbed is quite rocky, especially at the low water season. The section of the river between the third and fourth cataracts is sometimes termed the Letti Basin. The stretch between the fourth and fifth cataracts is known as the Manasir or Abu Hamad reach, and it borders the Bayuda desert to the south. The fifth to sixth cataracts are in the heartland of Meroë, and they separate the western Bayuda desert from the eastern Butana steppe lands and their northern boundary of the seasonal Atbara River that enters the Nile in this region. Above the sixth cataract, or the Sabaluka rapids, is the confluence of the White and Blue Niles. Excavations of the White Nile are very limited with respect to ancient culture, but along the Blue Nile certainly Meroitic and Christian occupation is well attested at a number of sites. See also ASTABORAS; ASTAPUS; ASTASOBAS.



NILO-SAHARAN LANGUAGES. In the absence of written records, historical linguistics provides a means by which to structure and relate ancient languages. Historical linguistics, which is based upon the concept of language divergence, employs methods such as the lexical, semantic, syntactical, and phonological comparison of living languages to reconstruct proto(or mother) languages. In this way, linguists are able to construct phylogenetic (or family) trees that illustrate the relationship between ancient and modern languages. The well-known historical linguist Joseph Greenberg was the first to definitively construct a genetic classification of the languages of Africa. One of the many families delineated in Greenberg’s (1966) construction of the languages of Africa was Nilo-Saharan. Geographically, NiloSaharan includes parts of the central Sahara and the Lake Victoria region (including parts of Kenya, Uganda, and Zaire), and in Lower Nubia. The Nilo-Saharan family includes the subgroups of Songhai, Saharan, Maban, Fur, Koman, and Chari-Nile languages. The Chari-Nile subgroup has further subdivisions of Sudanic languages including Nubian dialects. Nilo-Saharan languages in Northeast Africa exist in contrast to the widespread Afro-Asiatic family, to which ancient Egyptian and Ge’ez (Ethiopic) belong. Although modern Nubian, Dinka, and other “indigenous” languages of the Sudan are classified as Nilo-Saharan, attempts to place Meroitic into the Nile-Saharan family using historical linguistics have not proven conclusive except for some limited success with Sudanic cognates. NOBA. The reference to the Noba is actually one of the more ambiguous ethnic concepts along the ancient Nile. It is a reference used by outsiders for people of the Nubian Nile and further south and especially to the western side of the Nile. The first complexity is that the Nubians of the cataracts are certainly a heterogeneous population because of the great length of their history and their strategic role as the corridor to Africa. Moreover, the long presence of stratified and slave-based economies have long given further expansion to racial admixture. Thus, people commonly identified as Nubian “slaves” in New Kingdom iconography may actually not be the heterogenous “cataract (or riverine) Nubians” but actually slave prisoners from regions still further south—that is, Noba people as they are still known in the Nuba Mountain regions of southern Kordofan. This ambiguity only raises more problems of ethnic identity since it is virtually certain that these Noba or Nuba Mountain people originally had a territorial range that far exceeded that of the present. Their current range represents an enclave refugee population resulting from centuries, if not millennia, of predatory slave raiding by peoples of Lower Nubia and Egypt. Classical references try to differentiate the Noba from the Nobatae, but it is not sufficiently clear that these are different people at all; in fact, these may just be further ambiguous references to people south of Egypt without clar-



ifying precisely who is who. Adams does use the term Nobatae for those people west of Butn al-Hajar while the term Noba is used in the region of the Bayuda and west of Meroë and west of the White Nile. This implies that this might have been the northern range of the people of the Nuba Mountains who entered this northerly domain as a result of the collapse of the Meroitic state. The Greek geographer Eratosthenes and the Roman geographer Claudius Ptolemeus both refer to the Noba in the Greco-Roman period. It is generally agreed that by post-Meroitic (X-Group) times these Noba or Nobatae people were known as the so-called Ballana people of Lower Nubia or the Tanqasi people of Upper Nubia. They were certainly beyond the authority of Meroë, especially in its declining period. As further verification of this, the famed report of King Ezana of Axum claims that his army traveled down the Atbara River to the meeting of the Nile, and he made war with the Noba who had, apparently, by that time even crossed into the eastern Butana grasslands (as suggested by African-style housing constructed at Meroë). See also NOBATIA, NOBATAE, NOBADAE, NOBA; AL-MARIS (ARABIC). NOBATIA, NOBATAE, NOBADAE, NOBA; AL-MARIS (ARABIC). It is useful to use this variant spelling of the Nobatae to distinguish these preChristian Nobatae or Noba people from their apparent descendants in the Christian kingdom of Nobatia. The kingdom of Nobatia emerged in Lower Nubia in the late 200s CE. The origins of the Nobatae are unclear, but they seem to have received assistance from the Roman rulers of Egypt in conflict with the Blemmyes. It is possible that the Nobatae were of the X-Group or Ballana culture, but some scholars identify the latter as the Blemmyes. To confuse the situation further, at times the Nobatae and Blemmyes joined together to fight the Romans based in Egypt. The rulers of Nobatia converted to Monophysite Christianity through the works of missionary Julian around 543 CE. The kingdom eventually merged with Mukurra to form a unified kingdom at Dongola in around 650–700 CE. Despite the isolation from the Egyptian Orthodox church, there was an aggressive attempt to spread the Christian message from Egypt to the Sudan that can be dated to 452 CE. A political and religious alliance was established by 524 CE between Byzantium in Egypt and the Axumites in Ethiopia. At some point in the 6th century, King Silko proclaimed himself as the king of the Nobatae after defeating Blemmyes who had been his rivals in Lower Nubia. This was done in the name of his singular God, thus making him the founding Christian king of Nubia. When Justinian I came to rule Byzantium in 527 CE, this movement gained even greater force. Julian was a Monophysite missionary sent by Empress Theodora to compete with other missionaries sent by Justinian.



During the years 543–569 CE, the first Monophysite Christian kingdoms were organized in Nubia. In 543 CE, Faras was established as the capital of Nobatia. Julian’s Monophysite successor in the missionizing of Nubia was Longinus who visited the region in 569 CE when he recognized Dongola as the capital of Mukurra. He extended his missionary work as far south as the kingdom of Alwa. Probably by 579 CE Alwa was converted to Christianity, and its capital was established at Soba. However, it was only a few decades later, in 640 CE, that another religious history was being written. Arab Muslims conquered Egypt and immediately moved across North Africa. The holy war quickly spread southward to Lower Nubia. By 641 CE, the forces of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As reached the plain just north of Dongola (CE), but they failed to capture this Christian capital of Mukurria. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA; JULIAN, EMPEROR (r. 361–363 CE); ROMAN INFLUENCES IN THE SUDAN (30 BCE–476 CE). NUBA. The Nuba people of the Nuba Hills in southern Kordofan must be distinguished from modern Nubians, even though some Nubian refugees have also found their homes in the Nuba Hills. The Nuba proper speak Kordofanian languages, while the Nile Nubians speak lexically different languages. At the same time, both are members of the Eastern Sudanic family of Nilo-Saharan languages. Thus at a general level they are linked by linguistic structure but not in common communication. The exact origins of the Nuba are not clear, but they represent an isolated people in a borderland area perhaps less affected by Pharaonic, Kushitic, or Sudanic cultural and historic forces. The archaeology of the Nuba is poorly developed. In ancient times, one may conclude that either the Nuba territory extended much farther north, or Nubians raided the lands of the Nuba for slaves. In either case, whether by their own will or by coercion in slave raids, the genetic inheritance from the Nuba is certainly deeply present in Nubia and southern Egypt. Images of “Nubian” slaves in dynastic times are closely parallel in physiognomy and dress (earrings, feathers, and bracelets) to those people of the modern Nuba Mountains. This also raises the difficult issue of determining the ancient extent of the Nuba. Might they have been the same as the Noba? This complicated question of ethnogenesis is not yet resolved. The Nuba are “Negroid” by conventional “racial” classification and probably had, at least, a somewhat more extensive territory until they were pushed into their mountain retreat by cattle-herding Nilotics to the south in the 10th century or perhaps long before. From the 16th century onward, cattle-herding Arabs from the north and relentless predations of Jellaba slavers in the 18th and 19th centuries pressed heavily on the Nuba. This historical dynamic contin-



ues until the present. The Nuba have maintained distinctive linguistic and cultural traditions that have been increasingly incorporated into northern Sudanese life. NUBIA. Nubia is the general name of the area in the Nile valley south of Aswan in Egypt at the first cataract on the Nile extending today into the northern Sudan to the third or fourth cataracts. In the ancient past, Nubia reached as far north as Upper Egypt and at the confluence of the White and Blue Niles at modern Khartoum. Indeed, the community at Tuti Island at the juncture of these great rivers is almost entirely Mahas Nubian. Nubia is the land of the ancient kingdoms of Kerma and Kush and the various small ancient states such as Wawat, Irtet, and Setiu. The term Nubia is most likely derived from the Egyptian word nb for gold, but the common use of the word Nubia appears more in the medieval times since ancient Egyptians and Nubians usually termed their land Kush and the Greeks and Romans called it “Aethiopia.” After the fall of the medieval Christian kingdoms, the population converted almost completely to Islam. Although many Nubians speak Arabic, the Nubian languages have been maintained, with a number of local dialects being spoken. Nubians have been active in trade and politics. Many have left the home area but maintain a close sense of community in the cities and towns of Egypt and the Sudan where they have settled. As a result of the inundation of land caused by the building of the High Dam at Aswan, many Nubians have been resettled. More than 30,000 were moved to Khashm al-Girba in the eastern Sudan in the 1960s. Because of a relatively high level of education and active involvement, Nubians have played an important role in modern Sudanese politics. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA. NUBIAN. Nubians and their subgroups have a very long history linked to the rise of agriculture, ancient states, and urbanism. In the ancient history of Nubians, even before dynastic Egypt, they are probably the descendants of the Khartoum Mesolithic with some admixture from Egyptian peoples (Capsian stone tool types) to the north. “Negro” ancestors of Nubians also appear in the Khartoum Neolithic as riverine hunters and fishermen, who also had domesticated dogs, sheep, and goats between 4000 and 3500 BCE. Grain cultivation came sometime later, probably based upon millet (durra) from the western savanna, and later merged with Egyptian cultigens. Anatomical and archaeological evidence place Nubians at the northern extension of the Eastern branch of Sudanic languages—that is, not related to the Afro-Asiatic or Semitic languages of the regions further north and east. Part of the prob-



lem in translating the ancient written language of Nubians (i.e., Meroitic) rests upon its isolation and barely known vocabulary, although phonetic values have been determined. Nubian relations with ancient Egypt are long and deep as Nubia was, for millennia, a source of gold, slaves, cattle and other livestock, animal skins, ivory, ebony, ostrich feathers, gum, and incense, which played a very substantial role in the basic accumulation of Egyptian wealth and power. In the case of Kerma, Nubians independently created their own trading state. At the time of the New Kingdom, Nubia was fully colonized by Egyptians, and in the case of the 25th dynasty, Nubians ruled the entire Nile valley and contested with the Assyrians for control as far away as Lebanon. In about 340 CE, late Nubian (Meroitic) civilization was destroyed by Christians from Axum, but in less than two centuries, Nubia became reorganized as the three Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Mukurra, and Alwa, which substantially delayed the arrival of Islam through the 14th to 16th centuries. During this period, some Nubians fled to remote locations in Darfur and Kordofan where some linguistic traces may still be seen. Such refugee groups include the Anag, Birked, Dilling, Kadaru, Meidob, and Nyama; some say that they are “Negro” with “Caucasoid” traits (to use a terminology that confuses more than clarifies), but they should be distinguished from the other people of the Nuba Hills who speak unrelated Kordofanian rather than Sudanic languages. The other group of Nubians, sometimes called “Barabra” (a pejorative Latinrooted term), stayed in their ancestral riverine region in Nubia. It is this group that has mostly closely preserved the Nubian lifeways. Generally they are found in their respective territories: Kenuz Nubians are found from the first to second cataracts; Sukkot and Mahas are found from the second to third cataracts; and Danagla are found from the third to fourth cataracts. Nubians also occupy the southern portion of Egypt up to the first cataract as Aswan and elsewhere as a result of their migrations and the resettlement following the dam construction. Traces of matrilineal inheritance are also found with Nubians who show somewhat less patrilineal descent than other Arabized peoples. Nubians also dispersed in the 16th and 17th centuries to communities along the Nile near Khartoum (such as the Mahas town at Tuti Island) and as far as Sennar. They developed a tradition of religious scholarship and teaching, which gained them influence under the Funj Sultanates. As bearers of Islam to the Funj Sultanate, Mahas Nubians frequently provided fuqaha (religious sages) and advisors to the rulers at Sennar. Mahas religious schools of Faqih Hammad wad Marium, Sheikh Khogali, and Sheikh Arbab al Agayed were established at the confluence of the two Niles and along the Blue Nile up to Sennar. The mosque and school of Sheikh Arbab, built in 1691, can be said to be the first permanent structure in Khartoum.



In the 1960s, the rising waters of Lake Nasser / Lake Nubia flooded much of Nubia. Most of the traditional townsites were involved; this compelled Kenuz Nubians to move to Egypt (especially Kom Ombo), and Sukkot, Mahas, and Halfawi Nubians were relocated to towns in the eastern Sudan such as New Halfa and Khasm el-Girba. Some Nubians still remained but moved their homes to higher elevations. Danagla have not been affected by the floodwaters, but are more Arabized than their relatives to the north. Although a mixture of “Arab” peoples predominates in the northern urban areas of Sudan today, the Nubians are one of the most important minority ethnic groups. This fact is made more significant when it is understood that Nubians today only constitute 3–4 percent of the national population of Sudan. Other entries in this book provide additional information about this region and its people. In terms of “race,” Nubians have a phenotypic diversity, which is in harmony with the complex history of their territory; “Arabs,” autochthonous Nubians, southern slaves, and North African and European conquerors have all left their genetic marks. Nubians of the northern Sudan, speaking a non-Arabic tongue, must be distinguished from the peoples of the Nuba Hills who appear to have been isolated in southern Kordofan before the main penetration of Islam into the Sudan. In any case, the modern people living in the region between the fourth and sixth cataracts have been heavily Arabized and Islamized and often boast of Arab pedigrees and speak only Arabic and no Nubian languages. However, Nubian languages are still the mother tongues of the people from the first to third cataracts straddling the Egypto-Sudanese border. See also CHRISTIANITY IN NUBIA.

O OBSIDIAN. Obsidian was an important and valued export from Nubia to Egypt. It is the naturally glassy volcanic stone known also as “Ethiopian stone.” It does not seem to be found naturally, or at least in quantity, in Egypt itself. It was found in various ways from the predynastic times and through all of dynastic and Greco-Roman history in Egypt and Nubia. It has varying colors, but the favored were usually dark black or dark green. Its value rested partly upon the very sharp edge that could be produced by knapping a core to make arrowheads and knives. In the absence of high-quality metals such as iron, and even after bronze technology, obsidian was still valued for decorative purposes as well as cutting edges required in knives and sickle blades. Another use for obsidian was to make the inlaid eyes in human and animal sculpture, coffins, and mummies. In such an instance, it could give a very realistic image of the black pupil of the eyes. Obsidian also appears in beads and jewelry and some early vessels and vases. OCTAVIAN. See AUGUSTUS (OCTAVIAN) (r. 27 BCE–14 CE). OLD NUBIAN. Old Nubian was the main written language of Christian Nubia. After the initial work by Francis Griffith in the early 20th century, the classical linguist of Coptic and Old Nubian, Gerald M. Browne (1943–2004), made the seminal and comprehensive contributions with his Old Nubian Dictionary (1996); Old Nubian Dictionary: Appendices (1997); and Old Nubian Grammar (2002), as well as scores of detailed articles on Old Nubian. Essentially the rather small, but main corpus of Old Nubian texts dates from the late 8th century CE to the late 15th century CE. The largest collection of Old Nubian texts is centered on the 10th to 12th centuries CE. Earlier writing used Meroitic cognates, Coptic, and Greek, with the most famous being the Greek inscription of King Silko. Later dates of writing in Nubia saw the use of Arabic. Modern Nubi’in (especially Mahas) has descended from Old Nubian, suggesting common membership in the Nilo-Saharan language family. Old Nubian made heavy use of the Greek alphabet (as did Coptic) but added some letters for Nubian phonetics. Perhaps as many as half of all Old Nubian 149



texts are of a religious (Christian) nature, while the rest are on mundane matters such as land transfer. Since Old Nubian follows Meroitic by only a few centuries, it is tempting to think that this closeness may help address the issue of Meroitic decipherment. However, the earlier writing system did not discuss Christianity and, instead, was focused on other matters such as war tribute, so the lack of convergent or overlapping lexicons has only been productive in a very small number of cases. OSIRIS. The god Osiris is one of the very most important deities in the ancient Nile and even in the much wider region of the ancient Mediterranean. Osiris was born of the deities Geb and Nut, along with his evil brother Seth, his sister Nephthys, and his sister-wife Isis. Together Isis and Osiris were parents of the falcon god Horus who was the model of filial piety and the eternal protector of his father’s name. The epic conflict between nephew Horus and his uncle Seth is the prototype of the struggle between good and evil. When Osiris was treacherously slain by Seth, the dutiful Isis reassembled his body parts except his missing phallus, which was eaten by an Oxyrhyncus fish in the Nile. Fluttering over Osiris, Isis cautiously conceived Horus to avenge his father’s death. This holy trinity (Osiris, Isis, and Horus) is one of many triads in ancient Egyptian theology, and it can be assumed that this carried over into Christian Trinitarian views of the deities (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) or even with the saintly trinity (the holy family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus). Subsequently, Osiris became the god king over the afterlife/underworld and thus will be met in a favorable judgment in the “weighing of the heart” ceremony that all deceased must pass through. In short, Osiris was the noble deity bringing order to the afterlife and providing a model of exemplary behavior himself, and those relating to him are likewise favored. Indeed, historians of comparative religion see Osiris as a prototype for Jesus as a god of resurrection at Judgment Day and in funerary practices. There are also parallels in Christian religious traditions with “fratricidal conflict” and the “immaculate conception.” The long enduring importance of Osiris in Egypt extended to those areas to the west, east, and south that came under these religious influences. Certainly for Nubia, Osiris and his related divine family were of very great importance from the New Kingdom onward and were incorporated in various lesser ways even earlier. All Osiride beliefs and rituals were practiced in ancient Nubia from this time through the 25th dynasty, the Napatan period, all of Meroitic times, and in syncretic forms even into the rise of Nubian Christianity. Among the known words in the Meroitic language are shorey (Osiris) and woshi (Isis), which are typically found in funerary contexts and



on funerary hetep tablets. As another example, the epic battle between Saint George and the Dragon is easily seen as a parallel between noble Horus and his illusive, metamorphizing, and evil uncle Seth.

P PANTAENUS. After being inspired by the martyred apostle Saint Mark, Pantaenus founded the Catechetical School in Alexandria when he arrived there in around 180 CE. He not only was famed for his studies of theology but also continued the established traditions of the Alexandrian library by including mathematics, humanities, and sciences. Pantaenus was succeeded by Clement (160–215 CE), who was responsible for translating the Bible from Greek to Coptic and then later on from Coptic to Old Nubian. In around 201 CE, Clement was succeeded at this school by Origen. PERSECUTIONS. The lives and faith of the early Christians were severely tested by repeated attacks, murders, and martyrdom throughout the pagan Roman Empire, which saw Christians and Jews as a serious theological and political threat. No doubt, many thousands were killed during the reigns of Nero (64 CE), Septimius Severus (201–202 CE), Decius (249–251 CE), Diocletian (302–304 CE), Galerius (311 CE), and others. If Christians would not worship the Roman gods and surrender their religious texts, they would be put to death. Much later the Donatists of Numidia faced the same brutal test of faith. Persecutions in Egypt were also fierce, and they sparked the rise of monastic retreats and self-imposed tests of faith such as with the Anchorites. The Edict of Milan and the Edit of Toleration were supposed to bring an end to this brutality as the Roman state under Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity; however, theological divisions among the new Christians meant that less violent conflict continued. PHILAE. The ancient site at Philae is no more; the rising of the Low Dam in Aswan subjected this nearby island to annual flooding and caused damage to the colors of the famed temples there. Luckily, the renewed interest in Nubia generated in the 1960s was translated to Philae, which was unfortunately above the Low Dam but downstream of the High Dam. In the context and new technologies for relocating so many Nubian monuments, the temple of Philae, some 400 meters long and 135 meters wide, was also selected for




removal and relocation to the nearby island of Agilka (around 500 meters away). With remarkable care and precision, it is possible to visit this new site and have a profound sense of its former condition and orientation. The area of Philae and nearby islands was visited throughout dynasty times as it lay on this key corridor to Africa. However, the oldest known evidence in the vicinity is at Biga and Seheil Islands in New Kingdom times. During the 25th dynasty, some shrines were built on Philae, although few traces of this period still remain except for the small granite altar of biblical Taharka at the southwest corner of the inner, eastern colonnade. This is the very oldest time period still represented at Philae. Overwhelmingly Philae represents the Greco-Roman period as well as some important Meroitic and Christian episodes of Nile valley history. Nectanebo I of the 30th dynasty built an airy kiosk or pavilion in the southwest corner of Philae. Its 14 columns and Hathor capitals represent the oldest extant portion of the Philae complex. Nectanebo I also built the portal in first pylon, certainly long before the additions of Ptolemy XII. Even though the record of periods earlier than the Ptolemies is sparse, the links to the past are still profound in the iconography and deities who received special attention at Philae. For example, the ruined west-facing temple of Arensnuphis with its three vestibules and inner sanctuary ties Philae to Nubian deities, although it was built in Greco-Roman times. The same may be said for the nearby foundation of the small Mandulis chapel on the outer, eastern colonnade. This south-facing chapel built in Roman times had one vestibule and an inner sanctuary. One approach to explain Philae is with a chronological list of the architectural contributions to Philae by successive pharaohs. Ptolemy II is credited for the construction of the oddly oriented gate just outside the first pylon (18 meters high and almost 46 meters wide). This suggests that the temple was redesigned and reoriented on more than one occasion. Ptolemy VI has built the marvelously illustrated Mammissi or birth house in the inner courtyard that apparently necessitated its own retrofitted entrance through the first pylon. This gave him the chance to add the lovely relief scenes in this passageway. A text on the Mammissi outer facade carried references known from the Rosetta stone and thus added a significant part to its decipherment. A great granite stela buried into pylon 2 celebrated the land donation of Ptolemy VI to Isis, who is, in fact, the central deity for the Philae temple. Ptolemy VI was also responsible for the Hathor/Bes music sanctuary on the eastern side of Philae. Ptolemy VIII is associated with the construction of pylon 2, which took advantage of the natural granite outcroppings on Philae to integrate this stone mass of the Ptolemy VI stela into the second pylon. The inner 10-column hypostyle hall is noted for its having been painted by David Roberts in 1838. While the former glorious colors are now completely gone, the excellent



capitals remain to be enjoyed. This hall with its open roof is something of a compromise between a standard hypostyle hall and an outer court; probably this is due to the limited construction area available on Philae. Ptolemy VIII was also responsible for the construction of the eastern colonnade between pylons 1 and 2 and for some additions to the Hathor/Bes music sanctuary. The innermost scenes of Philae offer illustration of Isis’s effort to collect the dispersed body parts of her husband Osiris, and thereby prepare for his funeral and resurrection. Ptolemy XII was involved in either the construction of, or at least the reliefs on, the outer wall of pylon 1. These show huge images of this pharaoh smiting the heads of prisoners for the glory of Isis, Horus, and Hathor. He also decorated sections of pylon 2 and commissioned reliefs of a Sokar procession along sections of the eastern colonnade. Roman times saw exterior wall reliefs of the Isis temple added by Augustus and Tiberius. Augustus also built a badly ruined temple on the north side of Philae. He also decorated the Hathor/Bes temple. Diocletian added a gateway and dock that are still to be seen. These provide an example of a Roman arch that is not known otherwise for the site. Important contributions of Hadrian include the western gateway or bastion that has many important late reliefs of Isis, Osiris, Horus, and Nephthys. The image of Hapy living under the stones of the neighboring island is rich in symbolism. The inscriptions a few meters away are reckoned to be among the very last in hieroglyphics. One of the most impressive and lovely Roman works is the huge “Pharaoh’s Bed,” or kiosk of Trajan. Its 14 columns with screen walls still support huge architraves and have richly decorated capitals. Presumably the annual river processions of the Isis figurine would begin and end at this building. In Meroitic times, Philae became a depository of numerous Meroitic inscriptions, graffiti, and an especially long and intriguing text in the “storeroom” in the eastern side of the inner courtyard known as the “Ethiopian chamber.” This appears to represent very late Meroitic visitors to Philae who were still devoted to the worship of its deities after the temple was formally closed. Christian times did terrible damage to the reliefs of Philae, and it is believed that most of the systematic defacement took place in this era. Crosses were carved into the stone walls. The Blemmyes and Meroites had been allowed some access to Philae in the early Christian era, but during the reign of Justinian, Philae was finally closed in 551 CE as a temple of Egyptian deities. After 553 CE, Philae temple was officially transformed into the church of Saint Mary and Saint Stephen. See also PTOLEMY III TO PTOLEMY XV.



PHILO JUDAEUS. Philo was a commentator and historian of early Christianity, especially in Alexandria. Philo believed that the translation of the Hebrew Septuagint into Greek by the 70 translators sponsored by Ptolemy II was divinely assisted. Philo noted the importance of celibacy for the Essene community of early Christians. He was noted to have a tolerant attitude for Jews and was somewhat influential to the writings of Origen, as Christianity in the Nile valley was getting its start and evolving from Jewish traditions. PLINY THE ELDER (23–79 CE). Pliny the Elder is most known for his work in 37 volumes titled Natural History, which provided an encyclopedic inventory of historical events, practical knowledge, and very detailed records of Middle Nile toponyms, flora and fauna, physical appearances, races, ethnography, elephant hunting, minerals, and longevity and anatomy especially as they related to medicine practiced in the Nile valley. He developed a serious interest, following earlier classical scholars, about the source of the Nile and its tributaries, the Astaboras, Astasobas, and Astapus. He traveled from Alexandria to Berenice on the Red Sea and provided an important contemporary travel reference during the perilous times of early Christianity in the region. Pliny the Elder reported the Roman counter raid into Nubia in 23 BCE. Pliny the Elder, Josephus, and Philo also wrote about the early Essene Christian community in Judea that would influence the regional development of Christianity. “Admiral” Pliny was also a Roman naval commander who died in a vain attempt to rescue the people of Pompei from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. PLINY THE YOUNGER, PLINIUS GAIUS (61–113 CE). Pliny the Younger was a Roman governor and legal advisor in Asia Minor in 112 CE when he asked Emperor Trajan for legal advice about the policy and treatment of early Christians. He decided to execute some of those not having Roman citizenship, while those having a political tie to Rome were sent there for judgment. Apparently, Trajan was much less concerned about this than was Pliny the Younger. His numerous letters to his emperor provide a dynamic account for the functioning of the Roman Empire at this period. In letters to Tacitus, Pliny the Younger recorded the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE in which his uncle, Pliny the Elder, was killed. PLUTARCH (45/50–120/7 CE). This well-known and very productive Greek historian and biographer wrote about many prominent Greek and Roman figures, especially military, in the earlier centuries. His work on Alexander the Great and Augustus provides much basic information on these men with great historical significance to the Nile valley. These were collected in a



work known commonly as Plutarch’s Lives. Plutarch was a contemporary of such Roman emperors as Nero and Trajan. Plutarch was a deeply reflective and scholarly man of leisure and probably of a devout religious orientation. He was often critical of the writings of Herodotus, especially in trying to reconcile fact, fiction, and mythology that sometimes intertwined in the work of Herodotus. Plutarch’s work on Alexander describes Alexander’s military activities in Phoenicia (Book 24); Alexander’s crossing of Sinai into Egypt to Pharos Island (Books 25–26); and his use of cavalry in fighting against Persian military elephants (Book 60). In his work on Antony (Books 27–28), we learn that Cleopatra VII spoke many languages, including that of the “Ethiopians” (contemporary Meroites), and she was the first of the Ptolemies to speak Egyptian. In Book 81 of Antony, we learn that Cleopatra sent Caesarion, her son by Julius Caesar, with much treasure to India by way of “Ethiopia” (i.e., Nubia). PTOLEMEUS, CLAUDIUS. This 2nd-century geographer and astronomer lived in Alexandria between 127 and 151 CE. The precise dates of his birth and death are unclear. Claudius Ptolemeus was not a Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt since this Hellenistic epoch was already completed. However, he did continue the rich traditions of the Alexandrian geographer Eratosthenes, and this made Ptolemeus the last great ancient geographer. Ptolemeus studied astronomy, mathematics, and cartography at Alexandria even though the library there may have begun its deterioration. He proposed that the earth was stationary and was circled by the sun, but he also recorded the places and regions of the ancient world with more accuracy than formerly known. His Guide to Geography described solar and lunar movements, eccentric planetary orbits, and the earth’s motion. The geocentric geography of Ptolemeus established latitudinal lines that depicted the known circum-Mediterranean world. These were to last through the Dark Ages and until the European Renaissance and the Age of Exploration. Then active site exploration found and corrected many long-lasting errors. PTOLEMIES. Following the reign of Alexander the Great, his Greek successors quickly divided into the Seleucids of Asia and the Ptolemies of Egypt and Nubia. All of the subsequent rulers of Hellenic Egypt were titled Ptolemy with the exception of Cleopatra VII who ruled in her own name. The Ptolemies followed Egyptian traditions of art, architecture, and theology but with a variety of adjustments and additions. These included the addition of bilingual (Greek and Hieroglyphic) language texts that resulted in the famed Rosetta stone, as well as several cases of religious syncretism in which



they merged Egyptian deities or linked Egyptian deities with their own. A prime example was the emergence of the god Serapis and of the expanded worship of the Apis bull cult at Memphis, which included a vast catacomb for bull mummies. During the three centuries of Ptolemaic rule, they built extensively at Alexandria and Memphis as well as other very important Egyptian temples at Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo. In Nubia, the Ptolemies built in many places, such as Dakka, Dabod, Kalabsha, and Philae. Relations with contemporary Jews and Meroë were mostly cordial and linked these people in science and trade. Hostilities only emerged in sometimes contested parts of Lower Nubia. During Ptolemaic times, the distribution of the arts and theology of ancient Egypt dispersed throughout the Mediterranean world and into Europe. By the time the Romans took over this empire, Isis was worshipped as far away as London, and Cestius built a Ptolemyinspired pyramid in Rome. Of these many influences, certainly the creation of the great library at Alexandria and the neighboring Lighthouse of Pharos were among the most significant. PTOLEMY I, MERYAMUN, SOTER I [THE SAVIOR] (305–282 BCE). This first Ptolemy had been a personal friend of Alexander the Great, and he began the new Lagide dynastic line of the Ptolemaic administration of Egypt. At Philae in Nubia, Ptolemy I may have been inspired by remnants of a shrine perhaps started by Taharka to build an even larger temple to the goddess Isis. This important temple may have been started late in his reign as it appears to have been constructed more by Ptolemy II and other Ptolemaic successors. The capital of the Ptolemies was in Alexandria, where Ptolemy I began the library and museum in 285 BCE. Writing was done on papyrus scrolls and waxed tables for this collection. His other remarkable construction was the massive three-tiered lighthouse at Pharos. This edifice was said to have been 109 meters in height, and it long remained a wonder of the ancient world, until the Eiffel Tower exceeded it. During his time, the Jews of Alexandria numbered at least tens of thousands, if not more than 150,000; they formed the first Jewish quarters in that new city, making this the largest Jewish urban population in the world. Jewish communities were also established in the Fayum. Depending upon sources, the Jews were deported to Egypt or welcomed and protected there at this point; indeed many served as his mercenary troops. The Greeks, unlike the local Egyptians, allowed the Jews to be ruled by their own Council of Elders (ethnarchs). These elders were appointed to rule Jews in Alexandria and in Jerusalem at this time. The great geometrician Euclid died in Alexandria in 285 BCE during the life of Ptolemy I. When Ptolemy I abdicated, his son Ptolemy II began to reign. A huge statue of Ptolemy I was found under water in Alexandria in 1996 amid a new surge in the technology of underwater archaeology.



PTOLEMY II, USERKAENRE, PHILADELPHUS, “BROTHER LOVER” (285–246 BCE). The name of this Ptolemy is quite ironic since it is believed that he executed two of his brothers. During Ptolemy II’s reign, the Ptolemaic priest Manetho wrote his significant and lasting history and chronology of Egyptian pharaohs. A major expansion of the library in Alexandria took place under Ptolemy II. His father started this institution on a small scale. This famed collection hired 72 translators to collect all known books of the world, which resulted in around 500,000 papyrus scrolls. For the history of Christianity, this time and place was the birth of the Septuagint. A major addition to the library resulted in the acquisition of the library of Aristotle who had died in 322 BCE. These were the times of the noted cataloguer Callimachus and the great scientist and geographer Eratosthenes. Also during his reign, other areas of scientific research were broadly encouraged. This also included his creation of a great Alexandrian royal zoo that acquired a vast array of wild and domestic animals, birds, and reptiles from throughout his empire and from Nubia. Ptolemy II took special interest in maritime trade for his fleet, said to number 4,000 vessels. To facilitate trade, he expanded the work on the canal system begun by Necho II and continued by the Persians to connect the eastern Nile delta with the Red Sea. He married his full sister, Arsinoë II, after divorcing his first wife of the same name. Arsinoë was also the name of his port at what is today the port of Suez. His naval and commercial fleet was huge. The Red Sea port of Berenice was named for his daughter, and it served the trade town of Aswan; the port of Kossier served Thebes. These ports took on added importance for upgrading the maritime (Red Sea) link to Meroë and other east African destinations. Meroë was significant for ivory, slaves, livestock, and shipments of elephants for military purposes. The reign of Ptolemy II overlapped with that of Arkamani of Meroë, who was able to speak Greek. This was during a heyday of Meroë when cattle and elephant exports were significant and local iron production was at a high level. Arkamani was the first king to be buried at Meroë as the importance of this capital shifted the regional center of gravity from Napata to the Butana. Ptolemy II largely completed the Isis temple at Philae as well as the waterside entrance to this complex. In 281 BCE, Seleucus I annexed Asia Minor, thus seizing a substantial portion of what Alexander had earlier won. The Seleucid and Ptolemaic rivalry for the eastern Mediterranean was long enduring. Some sentiment against the Jews in Alexandria continued under Ptolemy II. PTOLEMY III TO PTOLEMY XV. Monotheistic Jews were central in Ptolemaic times, but Christianity had not emerged since its Jewish founder Jesus Christ was only born after the Ptolemaic dynasty was replaced by the Romans. Even then pagan Rome severely oppressed the early Christians, and



even after Constantine accepted Christianity, theological disputes endured. These rulers are covered much more fully by specific entries in the Historical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval Nubia.

Q QALAWUM, SULTAN. See SHEMAMUN, SEMAMUN, SIAMAMUN, SIMAMUN (1286–1287). QASR EL-WIZZ (“PALACE OF THE GOOSE”). The associated church, workshop, refectory, tombs, and small monastery at Qasr el-Wizz were active from the 9th to 12th centuries CE. This walled settlement was located just downstream from the regional capital at Faras within Lower Nubia. Most of Nubian Christianity lacked a major monastic life, but this was a major element for this site. Thus some of the treasures recovered included illuminated prayer books made and used by the local monks. One that is preserved in the Cairo Coptic Museum (Room 17) is written in Coptic that matches a parallel copy in Old Nubian. The Oriental Institute of Chicago documented the religious paintings of Qasr el-Wizz before they were lost under Lake Nasser. This isolated village had a monastery, graveyard, and tombs, and it is located a few miles north of Faras or south of Abu Simbel. Its occupation is very ancient with ruins from Pharaonic, Meroitic, and Greco-Roman periods in their variant styles. Construction was with mud bricks, burnt bricks, stone, and local timbers. It was, of course, occupied in Byzantine Christian times and perhaps even in Islamic times. With this diverse and complex history, the buildings in Christian times, including the 10th century and probably earlier, included arches, barrel vaults to cover a tripartite apse, sacristy, baptistry, naves, and naos. Construction was done by foreign and local masons at the various periods of use. Aside from the physical construction, the excavation of Qasr el-Wizz in 1965 by a team from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago found a remarkable parchment book. The 17-page work in Coptic was virtually complete and contained apocryphal tales of the apostles, as well as hymns that are also known in Old Nubian. This codex now resides in the Aswan Museum.




QASR IBRIM, PEDEME, PRIMIS, IBRIM, SHIMALÊ. The remarkable site of Qasr Ibrim was situated on a lofty promontory point that was visited in the New Kingdom by the viceroys of Kush serving Amenhotep I, Seti I, and other pharaohs of the 18th and 19th dynasties. A stela of Seti I from Qasr Ibrim has been transported to New Kalabsha. Its original location also offered visible places for the viceroys of Nubia to carve inscriptions into the rock face to record the tributes gathered under their administration. For example, the viceroy of Seti I noted 1,000 man loads of ebony, 10 men with live panthers, and 250 with perfume and aromatic woods, along with the total of 2,667 bearers with gold, ivory, minerals, dogs, oxen, and cattle. The great height of the original site gave a wide sweeping view to the west as well as a very long stretch of the Nile, and a usual sandbar along the western shore pushed river craft closer to the base of Qasr Ibrim and gave it great strategic significance. Nubian pharaoh Taharka of the 25th dynasty reconstructed an Amun temple at Qasr Ibrim in his name, and it was used in subsequent Napatan times when this territory was under Nubian control. Brief use was apparently made of Qasr Ibrim in early and then late Ptolemaic times. After 23 BCE, the Romans made heavy military use of the easily defended fort that sometimes served as their forward border point with the Meroites. This was especially the case during the time of Caesar Augustus, who based the troops of Petronius there in preparation for a counterattack against the Meroites who had earlier attacked Roman garrisons in Aswan. Perhaps as early as the mid-1st century CE until the 4th century CE Meroitic and Blemmyes peoples sporadically used the site when the Romans were not controlling the region. Later, Christians transformed Taharka’s temple into a church on the site. In still later Islamic times, Qasr Ibrim continued to be used. For example, in his 12th-century reign, Turanshah based his effort at Qasr Ibrim to force Islamic conversion upon the local population of Nobatia. In the early 16th century, Sultan Selim used the same small location for a base for his Bosnian troops to guard the border with Nubia and shifted the cathedral to a mosque. Given the great length of its occupation, this site has a remarkable stratigraphy, and the hot, dry Nubian weather has resulted in excellent preservation of papyrus, leather goods, textiles, and even texts in a half dozen languages, including demotic, Meroitic, Greek, Latin, and Arabic. Its great elevation has meant that it has been somewhat protected from the flood of Lake Nasser, although the site is very much at risk from erosion and tourist boats. The once high cliff is now reduced to a small island where very limited archaeological research continues to the present. QASR ICO. Qasr Ico is a Christian site excavated by Martin Almagro and Francisco Presedo Velo of the Spanish UNESCO campaign to salvage Nubian antiquities from 1961 to 1962. It is located at the second cataract,



around 16 kilometers from Wadi Halfa and consists of small square churches and a small associated settlement site. Both churches had a central domed ceiling, arched doorways, and traces of simple polychrome religious frescoes of angels, the Virgin Mary and Christ, and other themes painted on stuccoed walls. The houses and churches were made of stone and mud. Ceramics found at the site were typical for Christianity in Nubia and included bowls of various sizes and shapes, as well as flat dishes. Both had simple geometric decoration. This small Christian village was probably begun in the mid-9th century CE and may have continued until the 14th century. It was under the authority of Faras. QUSTUL. Qustul is located in Lower Nubia on the east bank of the Nile approximately across from the Christian capital of Nobatia at Faras. Its history is long and complex as it enters the archaeological record as early as the A-Group, and it reappears during the New Kingdom as well as in Meroitic times (with small nonroyal pyramids and chapels). In A-Group times, Qustul cemeteries show a certain degree of social stratification judging by tomb size and quality of grave goods. It was especially interesting to note that some of the largest graves were devoted to females. This gave rise to speculation that this was an early example of Nubian state formation with regnant queens. Precisely what relation Qustul had with Archaic Egyptians is debated, but by the Old Kingdom, Qustul was either rendered subordinate to Egypt or its Ta-Setiu population fled southward. In X-Group or Ballana times, Qustul features the large grave tumuli of post-Meroitic kings from the 4th to 6th centuries CE in the excavations by Walter Emery. The biggest is more than 50 meters in diameter and almost 10 meters high. These tumuli show a resumption of funerary sacrifice of horses as well as the presence of numerous other animals and servants; the bed burials for the kings are like those in Kerma times. Its very arid location has given rise to a high degree of preservation of human tissues and bones, as well as textiles, leather clothing, and shields. Well-made silver crowns, swords, spears, and horse trappings attest to considerable wealth at Qustul. Icons of Isis and Amun (in a ram form) are retained on the jeweled crowns. The ram or lamb later become one of the icons for Christianity. Since the flooding of Lake Nasser, Qustul is no longer available for investigation.

R RACE. “Race” is considered to be the genetically inherited aspect of human society; however, with advances in the study of human biology and with the complex interrelations between all human groups, the categorization of humanity into discrete racial groups has lost considerable scientific meaning. Indeed, the anthropological concept of the “science of race” is seen more as a social construct than a biological one, even though one’s genotype is the foundation for the phenotype. In the present case of Nubia, the great antiquity and diversity of interactions in the Nile valley finds most “racial” terms lacking. The people of Nubia are certainly African in the modern continental sense, but this can also include those of Middle Eastern, Asian, and European origins as well since all of humanity has African roots. In ancient Egypt, Nubians were given a variety of names. These ranged from the probable ethnic label of Ta-Nehesi, to the more problematic implication of the Ta-Setiu referring to the land of the “Bow People,” and to the clearly pejorative reference to “the vile Nubians” common during imperial Egypt in the New Kingdom domination of Nubia. The reference to the Nubian kingdom of Yam or Irem seems to be the kingdom of Kerma as a placename rather than specifying anything racial. Other place names in Egyptian hieroglyphics can be correlated with specific locations, but many cannot be determined with accuracy. Since Nubians did not use writing until their exposure to hieroglyphics, we can only discover their reference to themselves as coming from Kush, or later, with Meroitic inscriptions as the people who followed their own deities. Complicating the interpretation of the ancient racial picture to a great extent is that the term Nubia or Nobatia is probably derived from the Egyptian word nb for “gold,” and then by an ethnic gloss it became the sweeping reference for all peoples living south of Aswan. Potentially more confusing in terms of “race” is that the ancient states of Nubia such as Kerma, the 25th dynasty, Napata, and Meroë were certainly based on a slave trade conducted by their own raids in these regions. Thus, the millennia of the Nile valley slave trade has made the “race” concept in Nubia particularly evasive since




most Nubians have very plural “racial” origins unlike those populations of Nilotics, Darfur, or the Nuba Mountains who are far more homogeneous in their genetic admixtures. In Greco-Roman times, the picture was further clouded with the arrival of the racio-ethnic term Aethiopia referring to all lands south of Egypt as the “lands of the burnt-face people.” When Arab travelers entered the region, they simply translated this Greek concept to be the “Land of the Blacks,” or Bilad as Sudan in Arabic. By this time, any ethnic precision was lost, and the phenotypical skin color was determinative of “race.” Notions of being “Arabs” are also confounding in many ways, as this term has special sociopolitical connotation in the 20th century, and the precise meaning in Arabic of “nomads” is anachronistic in the modern world. If one uses the term Negroid and perhaps has a Nigerian in mind, then most ancient Nubians do not comfortably fit this phenotype, and southern Nilotic peoples are also easily distinguishable. Some feel more comfortable with an “AfroArab” mélange for some northern Sudanese, but this does not work well for Nilotic people in the south. This does not cover many other groups such as Nubians, Nuba, some Bantu, Adamawa, pre-Nilotes, Nilo-Hamites, Fellata, Fur, and Sudanic groups. Indeed, at this level, the confusion between language and race becomes even greater. In the Sudanese case, there has been such admixture between indigenous and exogenous ethnic and linguistic groups as well as an extremely long known history that “racial” phenotypes become most challenging to apply with any rigor or scientific meaning. On the other hand, interesting genotypic studies of Sudanese people have been advanced in recent years. Ahmed Batrawi did one of the most systematic of such studies in 1945–1946 in a two-article series in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. This seminal study was based on detailed Nubian and Egyptian craniometric studies from the predynastic to Christian periods. Readers are referred to this work, but among his main findings were the following: (1) “There was no evidence of a progressive change in variability corresponding to the chronological sequence of the populations”; (2) “The A-Group [Nubians] had the least variability”; and (3) “The variabilities of the Nubian populations examined as close to the variabilities of ancient Egyptian populations” (Batrawi 1945, 91). He also states that all the series represent variants of a single stock and that the A-Group is parental to the population that followed it (154). Also of interest is his conclusion that “[i]n Lower Nubia a slight infiltration of Negroid influence is observed during the Middle Kingdom times. In the New Empire period, however, the southern Egyptian type prevails again. After the New Empire a fresh and much stronger Negro influence becomes discernable till the end of the Roman period” (155). He also notes that the abundant close connections between the grades



of Nubian and Upper Egyptian series of those early kingdoms show clearly the persistence of the predynastic cranial type in a large area over a long span of time (144). In short, the “race” of Nubians in the earlier times is closely linked to that of Upper Egyptians that can in turn be distinguished from Lower (northern) Egyptians. As time passed, the Nubian and Upper Egyptian distinction was blurred with Nubians withdrawing, or being pushed, more into modern Nubia and more Egyptians occupying Nubia. As a result, the precise “racial” lines to be drawn today are only clear in the extremes of Lower Egypt and Upper Nubia and not in the grades of Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia in between. RAMSES II, USER-MAAT-RE SETEPENRE (1279–1212 BCE). Few Egyptian pharaohs lived so long, had so many offspring, or ruled such as extensive an empire as Ramses II. This red-haired monarch has been admired and feared for ages. Since his biography is quite well known, there is hardly any debate that he was the greatest pharaoh in the glorious age of the New Kingdom. He is even cited in the Bible (in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers) and in the poetry of Shelley. His monumental constructions are found far to the north in Lebanon, in the Delta, and at the vast Upper Egyptian temples of Karnak, Luxor, and Abydos, where bound Nubians are shown under his authority, and his additions were in unprecedented quantity and size. His battle at Kadesh against the Hittites; the purported exodus of the Jews; the vast storehouse temple precinct known as the Ramesseum; his celebrated wife, Nefertari; and his tomb (KV 7) in the Valley of the Kings are some of the features most noted by Egyptologists. His mummy is also well known as it was luckily retrieved intact at the royal mummy cache in Deir al-Bahri in 1881. Ramses II built in Nubia at the same huge scale as he had elsewhere. Here his monumental works are to be found at the majestic shrine protected by Horus (Re-Harakhty) at Abu Simbel that is guarded by his much-famed four colossal, 18-meter-high figures. This grandiose rock-hewn temple gives another account of his “victory” at the battle of Qadesh in ca. 1274 BCE, suppression of Libyans, and a rebellion at Irem in Nubia. The careful alignment of the temple with the sun upon the solar altar focuses on the gods Amun, Ptah, Re-Harakhty, and the deified Ramses II himself. Near this great work is a somewhat lesser temple to Hathor built to honor his wife Nefertari. Probably in 1269 BCE this monumental complex was initiated by HeqaNakht, his viceroy of Nubia. The subsequent overseer was his viceroy Iuny. Iuny based his construction foreman role on the vice regnal town later known as Amara West. This complex was completed in around 1255 BCE, just prior to the death of Ramses’s beloved Nefertari. At Abu Simbel, the Decree of Ptah announces a subsequent marriage to a daughter of the great King Hattusil. Iuny was also in charge of a temple for Ramses II at Aksha.



A text at Quban in Nubia suggests that Prince Ramses II was officially given a military command at age 10. Much later, also at the strategic site at Quban, Ramses ordered his viceroy of Kush to build a series of wells to the Wadi al-Allaqi gold fields, probably to help increase gold production. Other Nubian temples built for Ramses II are very numerous, including Bait alWali, which was likely built early in his Nubian campaigns before he was deified at Abu Simbel. The mention of his senior son by Nefertari hints that he might have been preparing for a coregency transition. Numerous inscriptions of Ramses II are to be found on Seheil Island where he invokes the Triad of Elephantine: Khnum, Anuqet, and Satis. It was also common in the temples of Ramses II to invoke the spirit of the god Hapi, who tied together the waters of the Nile. Ramses II’s viceroy, Setau, was in charge of the construction at the Gerf Hussein temple, which shows Ramses II and the god Ptah as united. In around 1236 BCE, at the rebuilt semi-rock-cut temple of Wadi as-Sebua, Ramses II ordered Setau to inscribe the names of about 30 of his sons and portray a symbolic merger of himself with the god Amun. Both temples were built of poor-quality local Nubian sandstone and were built rather late in Ramses’s rule so neither is considered of the same high standard as his other monumental works. The Wadi as-Sebua temple was built with forced Tjemehu (Libyan) labor under the direction of Setau. Perhaps these were captives from raids against the Libyans at Dunqul and Kurkur oases to the west of the Nile in Lower Nubia. Perhaps the raiding party of Setau even went as far south at the Selima oasis, which was in the desert hinterland of Ramses-Town at Amara West. In any case, Setau was a faithful tribute taker from Nubia for his lord Ramses II. At Derr temple, Ramses II honored himself and the falcon god Re-Harakhty. At Al-Lessiya, Ramses II renewed the worship of Amun along with Nubian deities of Satis and Dedan. Even into Upper Nubia at Napata, inscriptions are known for Ramses II. Ramses’s foreign and military preoccupations mainly lay to the north and in the Levant, but punitive attacks against Kerma were led by four of his sons in years 15 and 20 of Ramses’s reign; 7,000 captives were taken back to Egypt. Many of the constructions of Ramses II were either defaced or repurposed into Christian churches and chapels. Entries on Ramses III to Ramses XI are given fuller elaboration in the Historical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval Nubia, but are not discussed here since they precede the birth of Christ and the Christian era in the Egyptian and Nubian Nile valley. The exception might be Ramses III (1182–1151 BCE), the last of the great New Kingdom pharaohs who defeated Libyan attacks as well as the so-called “Sea-People,” and his great palace at Medinat Habu records these exploits in graphic detail and made the first note of the Jewish (Ib-er-u) people in Egypt.



REISNER, GEORGE ANDREW (1867–1942). This American-born Harvard University professor of Semitics was a major figure in Egyptology at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) at the time of its move from Copley Square to the present Huntington Avenue location. Reisner received his PhD from Harvard in Semitic studies in 1893; coached football at Purdue in his home state of Indiana; studied Assyriology in Göttingen, Germany; and had a stint at the Berlin Museum. In the first three decades of the 20th century, Reisner excavated extensively at about two dozen important sites throughout the Nile valley, including in Nubia, Dashur, Middle Egypt (the Archaic site of Naga ed-Der), and the Near East (Samaria, Palestine). His chronology of the A-, B-, C-, and XGroups for Nubian cultures was truly pioneering and is current today with some modifications. Reisner sought to strike a balance between the science of Egyptology he loved and the fascination for ancient Egypt by the art-loving public and museum trustees. For example, he managed to stay clear of the contemporary issues surrounding the tomb of Tutankhamun. Luckily for Reisner, Egypt was a semi-colony of England and Egyptology was under French control, so he was given many liberties in excavation that are no longer available. Likewise, his archaeological expeditions at Nubia in 1907–1909; at Kerma in 1913–1916; at Napata in 1916–1920; and at Meroë in 1920–1923 generated a great number of impressive antiquities from Nubia, especially from Kerma, Lower Nubian cemeteries, Jebel Barkal, the Napatan cemeteries of the 25th dynasty, and thereafter. This fieldwork was undertaken just after British military conquest of the Sudan under General Lord Kitchener who had fought his way up the Nile to Omdurman and Khartoum. On occasion, Kitchener and Reisner interacted to determine the division and disposition of Reisner’s finds in the first two decades of the century. Even though the Nubian collection was assembled “with the permission of the government of the Sudan,” this government was British, and no Sudanese authorities were empowered to regulate or resist the excavation and collecting by Reisner. Dows Dunham noted that some of the workforce at Napata was actually formed by slaves. Some have criticized the MFA for keeping much of the Nubian collection in basement storage until recent years. Others have also noted that Reisner was inclined to view the Sudan just as an outpost of Egypt and not on its own terms in either antiquity or during his excavations. In the case of Kerma, he viewed its architecture and styles through Egyptian eyes rather than seeing Kerma as an ancient African kingdom in its own right. His work on the first Nubian salvage project in 1907–1910 was in response to the British construction of the Low Dam at Aswan that threatened the regional antiquities. His published references to the Sudan as late as 1925 used the now outdated term Ethiopia, and he referred to the Nubian tombs at Kurru as belonging to the “Egyptian 25th dynasty.” Reisner was a cautious



competitor of Flinders Petrie in London, who was another major figure in Egyptology of the time. Reisner was a meticulous fieldworker and was strong in the use of photography in archeological excavation. Reisner was a colleague of Dows Dunham who succeeded him at the MFA and long continued to process Reisner’s unpublished excavation notes and thereby kept this chapter of the archaeology of Nubia in Euro-American hands. RELIGION IN NUBIA BEFORE CHRISTIANITY. The study of religion in ancient Nubia is often viewed as a pale and poor rendering of ancient Egyptian religion in its time of decline. This thinking not only is very inaccurate and unfair but also obscures the creativity in religious belief systems for Nubia. Nubian religion and history must be understood from its own perspective if it is to be understood at all. The first step is to discover which of the Egyptian deities were worshipped in Nubia, especially during the five centuries of Egyptian imperial occupation. Yet the second step is to see which Nubian deities were also worshipped in Egypt as this was a two-way street. There are also Nubian deities that were never recognized in Egypt, and finally, there are syncretic deities that evolved through the post-Meroitic period until their demise with the arrival of monotheistic Christianity. It is ironic that it was in Nubia (Kush or Meroë) that Egyptian religion persisted the longest with a much lesser degree of influence from the Greek and Roman overlords who ruled Egypt but did not conquer Nubia. Thus, the comparative approach is useful to see which deities had Egyptian origin and which had Nubian origin and which were shared and which were not. One may also make the standard distinction of anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and anthro-zoomorphic gods in the Nubian pantheon. Egyptian gods exported to Nubia include Amun (Amun-Re), Apophis, Hathor, Horus (Re-Harakhty), Isis, Onuris, Osiris, Ptah, Selket, and Thoth, as well as the deified kings Sesostris and Ramses II. Conversely, Nubian gods incorporated in Egypt include Anket, Bes, Khnum, Satet, Sekhmet, perhaps Hapy (the god of Aswan), and probably the ram god from Kerma that became the ram form of Amun. However, once Egypt fell under foreign control in Persian, Libyan, Greek, and Roman rule, not to mention Muslim rule, Nubians continued to worship many of the principal Egyptian deities. As the theological separation grew in Meroitic times, several Nubian gods were celebrated only in Nubia. These include the Nubian war god Apedemek, Arensnuphis and his fraternal god Sebiumeker, Mandulis, Dedun, and possibly an elephant god. ROBERTS, DAVID (1798–1864). Roberts was a famed 19th-century lithographer of the Holy Lands and the Nile valley following his travels in 1838. His romanticism of the region was strongly featured in his work and still remains an artistic inspiration. He traveled throughout Lower Nubia and



reached Abu Simbel as his southernmost point in the region. His work began to appear in 1841, and between 1846 and 1849, he published 123 images of Nubia and Egypt in a set of three volumes of heavy printed pages. His prints typically featured Victorian nuance and subtlety rather than detailed style. Aside from his lithographs of Lower and Upper Egypt, Roberts depicted the Nubian temples at Abu Simbel (four prints), Dakka, Kalabsha, Kertassi, Maharraka, Philae (four prints), Tafa, and Wadi es-Sebua (two prints). Since Egyptology was growing quickly in the wake of the decipherment by JeanFrançois Champollion, the excellent works of Roberts only made this fascination deeper. ROMAN INFLUENCES IN THE SUDAN (30 BCE–476 CE). Caesar Octavian (Augustus) consolidated the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE. Augustus sent Cornelius Gallus a Roman prefect to meet Meroitic envoys at Philae in 28 BCE. In 27 BCE, the geographer Strabo was sent to Nubia to report on conditions there. From a sense of opportunity or alarm, the Meroites raided Elephantine and Philae Islands at Aswan in 24 BCE. At this time, they probably seized a bronze bust of Caesar Augustus as booty; this reappeared in the archaeological investigation of Meroë 2,000 years later. In retaliation, Caesar Augustus sent Roman general Petronius to invade Nubia in 23 BCE as far as Napata. In about 21 BCE, a nonaggression pact was reached between the Romans and Meroites. In 14 CE, during the reign of the Meroitic king Natakamani (12 BCE–12 CE?), Caesar Augustus’s rule of Egypt came to an end. Some decades later, the first Christians entered Nubia, perhaps as early as 37 CE, but this was as a “secret religion.” While the famous Emperor Nero ruled (54–68 CE), “explorers” were sent to Nubia in 60 CE. These “explorers” gathered information for a military campaign planned for 64 CE, but this was not carried out because of Nero’s assassination. Other reports of Roman activity in Nubia are sketchy but such would include the 70 CE reports on Nubia by the writer Pliny the Elder. Since the spheres of influence of Meroë and Roman Egypt were generally respected, there was a measure of peace for much of this period. One may point to the period from about 100–300 CE when Kushites were permitted to reoccupy parts of Lower Nubia such as Qasr Ibrim. This policy of mutual respect was certainly well established during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284–304 CE) who withdrew his forces from Nubia to Aswan. In the 3rd century CE, perhaps the most frequent problem troubling both Romans and Kushites was recurring attacks by the Blemmyes. Sometimes Romans blamed the leaders of Kush for “allowing” this to happen.



After Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity as the state religion in 324 CE, the chief effect of Roman rule in Nubia was the subsequent increase of Christian missionary activity. This trend was well established by the time of the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE, and with no clear successor, the Christian movement deepened its roots in Egypt and Nubia. ROSELLINI, IPPOLITO. Rosellini was a joint member of the 1828–1829 Franco-Italian (Tuscany) expedition with Jean-François Champollion. From 1824, Rosellini had been professor of oriental languages at the University of Pisa. He removed many reliefs from the temples and tombs for European collections. In 1832, he wrote Monumenti dell’Egitto e della Nubia.

S SEPTUAGINT. This foundational Judeo-Christian document was the result of an order in the 3rd century BCE from Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–247 BCE), who had noted from the scholarly Jewish population in Alexandria that many of the Jews could no longer read Hebrew, and it would be better to translate the Hebrew texts (the Torah for Jews or the Pentateuch for Christians) into Koine Greek. The Pentateuch (“Five Books”) for Christians were Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament of the Bible. It was already common practice to build the collection in the famed library of Alexandria, where books in any languages would be seized, copied, and sometimes translated for the library. To ensure faithful translations, Ptolemy II employed 70 translators (or perhaps 72 to allow for six from each of the Jewish “tribes”) to translate this work. “Seventy” in Roman numerals is written LXX, so it is sometimes known simply by that reckoning. Even though each translator worked separately, the results were said to be identical, so this became the official (Greek) translation better known as “The Seventy” or, later, the Old Testament. The Jewish quarter of Alexandria was already large and closely situated near the library. Already displaced in the Babylonian diaspora in 586 BCE, Jews were specialized in scholarly, financial, and military affairs that did not require land ownership. SERRA EAST. This Christian town and fortress dates to the 10th century. It is located essentially opposite to the town of Faras, the capital of Nobatia, or around 10 miles upstream from the New Kingdom temple of Abu Simbel built for Ramses II. It is now flooded by Lake Nasser. SHAMS AD-DAWLA, TURANSHAH. Shams ad-Dawla (“sun of the state”), also known as Turanshah, was the brother of Salah ad-Din (Saladin), the Kurdish Muslim conqueror of Egypt and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Shams ad-Dawla met the modestly dressed king of Mukurra in 1172 (or was it his ambassador Ibrahim in 1175 CE?) and continued the serious Muslim threat to the Christian kingdom. Indeed, many Nubian soldiers had joined the rather friendly Fatimid army, so when the Ayyubids were threat173



ened by this reality in Cairo in July 1172, these Nubian “slave soldiers” were killed in great numbers. Then on the way to campaign against Mukurra, Shams ad-Dawla attacked Aswan and captured Qasr Ibrim in 1173 in Lower Nubia where he removed its cross and dome of the Christian church. There he seized food and supplies and famously killed the pigs as well as tortured the bishop and left Ibrahim al-Kurdi in charge of staging further raids against Faras. In some desperation, the Nubians sued for peace, but when Salah adDin got diverted in the Fourth Crusade, Ibrahim was recalled in 1175 CE, and the Christian Mukurrans retook Qasr Ibrim and rebuilt the church that Ibrahim had turned into a mosque. Ibrahim apparently drowned in the Nile at Adindan near Faras a few years later. SHAMS AD-DIN. Major attacks by Shams ad-Dawla on Christian Nubia took place in 1172–1173 CE, and on 20 January 1276, a century later, emir Shams ad-Din (“sun of religion”) instigated the Muslim attack on Mukurra after defeating the local eparch at Dao (Daw, Dotawo) and onward to the Island of Mika’el (Meinarti) just downstream of the second cataract in Lower Nubia. Nubian king Shekanda had been “appointed” as the first Nubian Muslim ruler as they advanced on Christian king David (Daud) at Dongola on 31 March 1276. King Dawud escaped to the southern kingdom of Alwa (Abwab) but was there betrayed and handed over to the sultan in June 1276. This invasion caused much destruction of the churches and houses at the Mukurran capital of Dongola. The religious tax, gizya, was instituted under penalty of death as the Christian kingdom was dealt a mortal blow and went into a steady decline. SHEKANDA. Importantly, Shekanda was Christian king David’s cousin (maybe nephew), so the Egyptian Mamluke sultan Baybars (r. 1260–1277) in 1276 CE wanted to rule Nubia through Shekanda who claimed legitimate succession through matrilineal descent in Nubia. Thus the Mamluke army put their puppet Shekanda on the throne with this purpose in mind, giving him the Muslim title of Na’ib under the condition that he would renew baqt payments that had fallen in arrears. The 300-man army left Cairo in January 1276 and reached Dongola on 31 March 1276. The Nubians resisted but were defeated at the battle of Daw near Wadi Halfa with a final battle at Dongola that destroyed a number of buildings. The Mamlukes presented the following options: (1) convert and accept Islam; (2) remain Christian and pay the gizya religious tax; or (3) die as an apostate. King David managed to escape to Abwab, the northern border of the kingdom of Alwa. While many Nubians had accepted Islam by this time, the means used by Sultan Baybars were very unpopular with all; King David was toppled, and Shekanda had failed to serve the sultan effectively. Accord-



ingly Sultan Baybars ordered that Shekanda be assassinated one year later. The Mamluke army returned to Egypt on 2 June 1276 with some 10,000 slaves from Nubia, and on 27 June 1276, King David himself arrived in Cairo in chains. Sultan Baybars died in 1277 and was followed by his chief deputy, Sultan Al-Malik al-Mansour Qalawun (r. 1279–1290), who continued the Mamluke hostile takeover of Christian Nubia. With King Shekanda dead, his Christian successor, King Barak, was also ordered to be executed. At this dramatic point, the next battle would be with the Christian king Shemamun and the Mamluke sultan Baybars. This would not turn out well. SHEMAMUN, SEMAMUN, SIAMAMUN, SIMAMUN (1286–1287). The transition from Christianity to Islam—a political fiasco—occurred when the Bahri Mamluke sultan Al-Malik al-Zahir Rukneddin Baybars (r. 1260–1270 CE) toppled King David to install his puppet Shekanda to restore baqt payments. King Barak succeeded Shekanda, and Shemamun, who ruled first in 1286–1287, followed with an equally turbulent reign. Shemamun sent 190 slaves and 200 head of cattle to Cairo as a baqt payment to solicit their alliance against the rival Abwab rulers. Not content with the shortfall in slaves and cattle tribute, the Mamlukes invaded Dongola to install a puppet king who would make baqt tribute payments. Shemamun’s nephew (his sister’s son) was put on the throne. As with Christian king David, Shemamun fled south to Abwab while his nephew ruled (1287–1288 CE). The Abwab king did not want Shemamun to stay because of the conspiratorial threat he represented. Not being welcome, Shemamun returned to Dongola in the darkness in 1288–1289 to reclaim the throne a second time and get the local Princes Budemma and Jorays arrested for seizing the crown in his absence. This unstable period provoked a second Mamluke invasion on 25 October 1289, and King David’s nephew was installed on the throne, causing Shemamun to flee again. Clearly power was being intensely contested in the region, and at last both princes were executed. Budemma (perhaps he was that nephew of King David) was tied up and sewn into a wet bull hide that killed him as it dried. Shemamun fully resumed his reign in 1290 CE to rule until around 1295. The fourth Mamluke sultan, Baybars, died on 1 July 1277; his son briefly replaced him from 1277 CE to 1279 CE, and, in turn, the seventh Mamluke sultan, Qalawun (r. 1279–1290), succeeded him. In 1290, Shemamun again sought to capitulate to Sultan Qalawun’s demands, saying he would renew the baqt payments, ask for a Mamluke pardon and for renewed support, and spare an invasion. However, Sultan Qalawum died on 10 November 1290 to be replaced by his son, Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil, who ruled from 1290 to 1293; he apparently accepted Shemamun’s apology, gifts, and baqt pay-



ments. Mamluke rule had its own instability, and Sultan Khalil was followed by Sultan Zein ad-Din Katbogha, ruling from 1294–1296 CE, during which time King Shemamun apparently died a natural death. Not surprisingly, the historical record again becomes confused from 1295 to 1305 as the ruler Amay (or Ayay) was installed in Dongola in about 1304 and asked for Crusader support, only to be assassinated in 1305 CE. In 1311, the historical record is clarified with the last Christian king, Kerenbes, placed on the throne until 1316 CE when the Burji Mamluke intrigue was resumed to place the first Muslim ruler, ‘Abd Allah Barshambu, onto the throne. This finally completes the formal transition of Mukurran Christianity to Islam. Christianity in the lands of Abwab in the kingdom of Alwa lasted onward until 1504. SILKO, KING. At a large Roman temple at Kalabsha in Lower Nubia that was mainly built by Caesar Augustus, there is an important inscription in its own right, because of its relevance to medieval Christianity. This inscription attributed to King Silko is a historical benchmark for this period. In this region and at this time, the newly converted Silko defeated the Blemmyes, who were his military rivals, and ordered an inscription on a screen in the forecourt. Silko claimed that his military success was because of his devotion to the singular God—that is, to Christianity. This inscription was in poor Greek, and so begins the historical record of Nobatia. Apparently, Silko was a king of the Noba people who may have migrated to the Nile valley from the west. If this is true, then moving to the Nile valley assisted in their control of the Selima to Kharga oases trade routes. Giovanni Vantini translated Silko’s inscription as follows: I, Silko, mighty king (basiliskos) of the Nobadae and of all the Ethiopians, I have twice come as far as Talmis and Taphis. I fought against the Blemyes and God gave the victory once, together with three others. A further time was I victorious. I destroyed their towns and settled therein with my troops. The first time I conquered them and they entreated me, I made peace with them and they swore by their idols that they would keep the peace and I trusted in their oaths that they were people of good faith. I returned to the upper regions of my territory. Since I became a mighty king, I did not follow other kings, but I rather marched before them. As for those who strive with me for mastery, I do not leave them in peace in their own lands, unless they implore my mercy. For in the plain I am a lion, in the mountains a goat. A second time I engaged in a war against the Blemyes from Ibrim as far as Talmis; I harried the land of the peoples who live to the South of the Nobadae, because they had picked a quarrel with me.

STRABO (64/63 BCE–23 CE)


As for the leaders of the other nations who waged war against me, I gave them no chance to sit in the shade, but in the sun, and they cannot quench their thirst in their own houses, unless they submit. For if people revolt against me, I seize their wives and children.

SONQI TINO. Sonqi Tino is located just downstream in the Dal cataract on the west bank of the Nile roughly opposite from Kulubnarti, or some 250 miles upstream from Aswan within the former territory of Nobatia. Since Nobatia was annexed by Mukurra rather early in Christian history, it is apparent that Sonqi Tino was abandoned well before the end of the Christian period. According to Giovanni Vantini (1981), this small fortified Christian village is known for many archaeological finds, including some impressive masonry tombs, a modest mud-brick church, an altar block with the name “Mikhail” inscribed in Greek in the mud plaster, a fragment of a communion plate, and a fine full-size mural portrait of King George II being protected by Christ Emmanuel. This may also be the territory of the eparch Simon who ruled locally. King George is wearing a gold crown with horns and dangling chains with bells. Like the site of Abdallah Nirqi, Sonqi Tino got sanded in before the end of the Christian era, so several of the murals and portraits were well preserved and are remounted in the Sudan National Museum and represented in the Nubian Museum in Aswan, Egypt. Sonqi Tino was excavated by the University of Rome from 1967 to 1970, and a biblical colloquium on this site was held in Rome in June 2018. STRABO (64/63 BCE–23 CE). Strabo was a Greek by birth and culture, but he was a Roman citizen who traveled widely, especially in Egypt from around 24 BCE onward; he reached many landmarks in that nation. He traveled all the way to the frontiers of Nubia, including Aswan and Philae. His 17 “books” on history and geography, however fragmentary, are much celebrated for what they describe in the early Christian era in the Nile valley. It is assumed that some of his research was done in the library of Alexandria. His reports on Nubia included livestock, geography, rivers (the Astaboras), food, customs, ethnography of the local groups, and religious practices, among many other details. Among his “books” is the report on the war between Rome and Meroë (“Aethiopia”), which mentioned the Blemmyes and Noubai, among others. In book 17, he noted the attack by the “one-eyed” Meroitic queen “kandake” on Aswan and the Roman counterattack on Nubia by the prefect Petronius as far as Napata. The peace treaty in Samos in ca. 20 BCE finally resolved this conflict during the reign of Caesar Augustus.

T THEODORA (“GIFT OF GOD”; ca. 497–548 CE). Empress Theodora was the wife, lover, and advisor of her husband, Emperor Justinian I. She was effectively his coregent at the time of aggressive missionizing following the decision taken at the Council of Chalcedon (in 451 CE) that was designed to resolve the dispute about the “nature” of Jesus. Instead, this was the start of a deep and enduring schism between the (Eastern) orthodox view and the Alexandrian Monophysites and Arians that Justinia sought to isolate. In this rather strange intramarital theological dispute, Justinian, ruling from 527 to 565 CE, was steadfast in supporting the Chalcedonian orthodoxy while his famous wife followed a Miaphysite variant; both separately sent missionaries to newly Christian Nubia. According to Ephesus, a Monophysite, Theodora sent a missionary, Presbyter Julian, to Nobatia in 543–545 for this purpose while Justinian’s surrogate arrived later; in the short term, he failed in this rivalry with his famous wife. This odd competition continued with another Monophysite, Bishop Longinus, who undertook a secret and difficult operation to missionize Mukurra and Alwa in 570–575 CE. At the same time, it is widely considered that her consultations played a significant role in saving the Byzantine Empire that faced numerous challenges. To try to reconcile and understand this theological dispute, Theodora believed that Chalcedonians and Monophysites could get along and the schism could be avoided; Justinian I insisted that the views could not be accommodated. Theodora, able to introduce laws, also helped protect the rights of women. TURANSHAH. See SHAMS AD-DAWLA, TURANSHAH.


U UKMA. The area of Ukma is located just downstream from Kulubnarti at the upper reach of Butn al-Hajar. Ukma lies in the Faras to Gemai region, which was surveyed during the Nubian salvage campaign. At Ukma West, there are several hundred nonroyal burials dating to Kerma times. At Ukma East, there are some 60 plundered graves dating to Christian times as well as a stone-walled Christian fort with an observation tower in one corner. One Christian tomb chamber has inscriptions. Ukma East may have been occupied as early as Neolithic times.


V VANTINI, GIOVANNI (1923–2010). This Italian priest spent many years in Sudan at the famed English-language Camboni College of Science and Technology in Khartoum. He is known for his publications on medieval Christianity, especially his Christianity in the Sudan, and on Sudanese medieval archeological excavations at Faras and Sonqi Tino. His works are considered highly valuable because they are built on the primary original oriental sources for this period in Sudanese history. Refer to appendixes 5 and 6 and to the works of Vantini in the bibliography.


W WOMEN. The record of women in Christian Nubia is rather incomplete and consists primarily of religious images of saints, the Madonna, and human burials. The fragmentary texts of parchments and manuscripts are generally of a religious nature and make few references about women. A major exception to this pattern is the case of Empress Theodora who was a strong supporter of Monophysite Christianity in Nubia. Another exception is that, until the transition to Islam, Nubia followed matriarchal succession. Women, however, did not rule as a matriarchate since there appears to be no case of that in Christian times, but instead, the legitimate descent was through the son of the king’s sister. Moreover, the position of queen mother also appears to be very significant as a source of legitimacy. Although not very clear, a female political title of asta (“daughter”) was some sort of provincial representative. At least educated women were sometimes employed as scribes for recording religious or legal documents. It is likely that the importance placed on women was an inheritance from Meroitic times and is reflected in Mukurran legal documents, especially in land ownership, transfer, and intergenerational inheritance, in which women were independent agents. In general, Coptic Christianity was rather patriarchal, and the position of women was marginalized. Ironically, the previous Meroitic culture had a number of very significant women leaders, and the following Islamic times carried on with patriarchy. Aside from the important role of Theodora and matrilineal descent, the role of women is evident in the medieval mural art in the chapels, churches, and cathedrals, where a Mukurran princess was protected by the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child as drawn on the 12th century Faras cathedral. Women were also the frequent sponsors or patrons of churches, wall paintings, and inscriptions.


X X-GROUP AND PRE-CHRISTIAN TIMES. By the mid-4th century CE, Meroë was in its death throes after economic competition and invasion by Axumites. Ancient Kush was long over, and by the end of the 4th century, some refugees from Meroë and its allies filled the vacuum. This created local elites that are merged as the so-called X-Group, and they were buried in large tumuli like those at az-Zuma, Ballana, or Tanqasi. Artist traditions of the XGroup show ties to Byzantine Egypt, and so when Christian Nubia emerged, continued contacts were maintained with the Byzantine world. While Christianity in general was deepening its hold, a schism still needed to be overcome between the three newly formed Christian kingdoms. By the 6th century CE, Emperor Justinian I of the expanding Byzantine empire instituted a policy of expansion by converting allied territories to the orthodox Chalcedonian state religion. However, the royal court was divided between those who followed the Chalcedonians and those (like the emperor’s wife, Theodora) who followed the Miaphysite or Monophysite interpretation founded in Coptic Egypt. Justinian’s Chalcedonians arrived first in the kingdom of Nobatia in 543 CE, and the Nobatian king refused to allow the mission to travel further south. The more southerly kingdom of Mukurra was converted to the opposing orthodoxy sometime before 568 CE, and by 573 CE, a mission from Mukurra reached Constantinople, offering friendship and gifts of ivory and a live giraffe. Rivalry between Chalcedonian Mukurra, on the one hand, and Nobatia in the north and Alwa in the south, on the other, apparently persisted at this time. Trade, art, and architecture between Mukurra and Constantinople suggests close relationship, not to mention tensions with the other two Nubian Christian kingdoms.


Z ZAKARIAS. King Zakarias gained his power during the reign of Johannes because he was married to a sister of Johannes. As with other cases, especially during the transition from Christianity to Islam, the matrilineal succession in royal Nubia required that only a son of the king’s sister could be the next king. As a consequence, Zakarias could not be a legitimate king in contrast to his son Georgios.


Appendix 1 Main Language Groups

AFRO-ASIATIC (HAMITO-SEMITIC) LANGUAGES This information comes from G. P. Murdock’s 1955 book Africa: Its Peoples and Their Culture History. Hamitic: Ancient Egyptian [Saidic and Boharic] (hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic written forms); Coptic, Libyic, Berber Northern Cushitic: Blemmye, Ababda, Amarar, Beni Amer, Beja, Bisharin, Hadendowa, Medjay Central Semitic: Aramaic, Assyrian, Canaanite, Hebrew, Punic, ProtoSinaitic, Arabic South Semitic: South Arabian, Axumite (Ge’ez)

EASTERN SUDANIC LANGUAGES Pre-Nilotic Nilotic Daju Nubian Languages: Meroitic; Old Nubian; Danagla/Dongolawi; Fadicha; Kenuz/Kenzi; Mahas, Sukkot

KORDOFANIAN (OF THE NUBA HILLS) Furian (of Darfur) Niger-Congo (Nigritic, Bantu) Languages Indo-European: Greek, Latin, Persian


Appendix 2 The Salvage of Ancient Nubian Temples in Egypt

Ancient Site

Associated With

Current Status

Abu Simbel Temples

Ramses II (1279–1212 BCE), Re-Horakhty, Hathor, Nefertari

Moved and elevated 60 m.

Qasr Ibrim

Multiple periods, including Excavations continue; Dynastic, Meroitic, Roman, much already lost. At great Christian, Islamic risk.

Amada Temple

Tuthmosis III (1504–1450 BCE), Amenhotep II (1453–1419 BCE)

New Amada

Derr Temple

Ramses II

New Amada

Tomb of Peniut

Peniut, Governor of Wawat New Amada

Dakka Temple

Ptolemy IV and Meroitic

New Wadi as-Sebua

Maharraqa Temple


New Wadi as-Sebua

Wadi As-Sebua Temple

Ramses II

New Wadi as-Sebua

Kalabsha Temple

Roman, Augustus, Christian, Silko

New Kalabsha

Beit Al-Wali

Ramses II

New Kalabsha

Qertassi Kiosk


New Kalabsha

Isis Temple Complex at Philae

Greco-Roman, and Meroitic (332 BCE–312 CE)

Relocated to nearby Agilkia Island

Gerf Hussein Temple

Ramses II

Fragments saved

Qasr Ibrim Chapel


Fragments saved

Abu Oda Temple

Horemheb (1321–1293 BCE)

Fragments saved


Appendix 3 The Salvage of Ancient Nubian Temples in Sudan

Ancient Site

Associated With

Current Location

Semna West Temple

Thutmosis III

Sudan National Museum

Djer Inscription

Old Kingdom

Sudan National Museum

Djehutihotep Tomb

New Kingdom Prince

Sudan National Museum

Buhen Temple

Hashepsut (1498–1483 BCE)

Sudan National Museum

Semna East Temple

Hatshepsut (1498–1483 BCE), Amenhotep II (1453–1419 BCE), Thutmosis III (1504–1450 BCE)

Sudan National Museum

Faras Etc.

Christian Murals

Sudan National Museum

Soleb Temple

Amenhotep III (1386–1349 In situ BCE)


Kerma kings and occupation


Dynasty XXV and Napatan In situ times

Meroë and Butana

Meroitic times and later

In situ

Dongola and Soba

Christian and Islamic Times

In situ

Blue Nile

Various periods

Little study

White Nile

Various periods

Little study

In situ

Ancient structures removed to new locations: Temple

Associated With

Moved To

Debod Temple

Ptolemy VI and Adikhalamani


Taffa Temple





New York


Thutmosis III


Kalabsha Gate




Appendix 4 Implications of the High Dam at Aswan



Vast hydroelectric power

The end of excavations in Lower Nubia especially at Ballana, Qustul, and Qasr Ibrim

Effective flood control

Traditional Nubian villages and lifeways

Expansion of irrigation land

Loss of bilingual texts

Expansion of lake fishing

Depopulation of Lower Nubia

New tourist potentials

Original temple colors

Salvage of Nubian temples

Loss of agricultural lands and trees

Popular interest in Nubia

Loss of townsites and cemeteries

Other liabilities: • Changed water table, with increased soil salinity jeopardizing many sites • No more river silt with polluting fertilizers now required • Expansion of Bilharzia • Expansion of water hyacinth


Appendix 5 Bishops from Daras

The information in this appendix is from Giovanni Vantini’s 1981 Christianity in Sudan (pages 139 and 144–45 and plate 18 (painted on the wall of Faras cathedral) and Rex Keating’s 1963 Nubian Twilight, plate 75 (five stone stela of bishops from Faras West). All dates are CE. Yoannes I (died 606) Petros (died 662) Ignatios (766–802) Yoannes (until 809) Yoannes II (?) Markos (12 years) Mikail (died 827) Thomas (827–862) Yesu (862–866) Kyros (866–902) Andreas (902–903) Kulluthos (903–923) Stephanos (923–926) Elias (926–953) Aaron (953–972) Petros (976–999) Another Yesu? (died in 10th century) Yoannes III (ca. 997–1005) Marianos (?) Merkurios (?–1056) Petros II (1058–1062) Georgios (1062–1097) Mikail (1097–1124) Yesu II (1124–1175) No written records thereafter. Perhaps the use of Faras was stopped?


Appendix 6 Kings of Christian Nubia

This list is incomplete. Some kings are not known at all; there are gaps in the record. Rarely are birth dates or regnal/coronation dates known. When dates are known, they are more likely to be death dates or events outside of Nubia, when they were ruling. Kings of Alwa are even more poorly known. This list is compiled from Adams, Shinnie, Vantini, and Welsby. King




ca. 536–540 CE

Nobatian king, first to accept Jacobite Christianity, Silko is noted for inscription at Kalabsha Temple in Egypt after defeating X-Group Blemmyes in Lower Nubia. Isis worship at Philae ended around this time.


Nobatian king, ruled after Silko.


6th century

Known from Dendur Coptic inscription. He changed the Pagan Dendur temple into a church.


6th century

Followed Eirpanone.


late 7th to 8th century

Unified Nobatia with Mukurra, Monophysite “New Constantine: Inscription at Faras.” Rebuilt the “FiveAisle Church” at Faras in his 11th year.


middle of 8th century

Invaded Egypt as far as Fustat (Cairo) to free the Coptic Patriarch held in Muslim Egypt.


late 8th to early 9th century

Ruled some time after Cyriacus.


early 9th century

Possible predecesor and father of Zacharius.


9th century

Son of Merkurios, might not have ruled.


9th century

Ruled after Merkurios.

George I

860–920 CE

Mission to Baghdad (Qurqi, Gorgi, Girga, Jirja).

Zacharius III






George II

late 10th to early 11th century

Fatimids conquered Egypt.


early 11th century

His relationship to George I or II is not known. He introduced the domed roof to the Mukurra palace.


late 11th century

Buried at Khandaq; retired to monastery at Faras.

George III?

1102–1158 CE

Monk in Wadi Natrun.

George IV

1106–1158 CE

Ruled 1131–1158; became monk in Egypt.


13th century

Power struggle with Prince Shekanda.


late 13th century



early 14th century

Arrived in Mamluke Cairo with gifts, asking for help.


early 14th century

Came to throne 1310 and was last king of Dongola in 1323 CE. Hoped for alliance with Crusaders to thwart Muslims but Resumed baqt payments to Cairo.

Barshambo, Prince


Nubian Muslim prince, son of King David’s sister. Resisted by Kudanbes.

Barshambo, King

early 14th century

Kudanbes retreated to Alwa and Barshambo became the first Muslim king of Nubia.

Kanz al-Dawla


Second Muslim king of Nubia.


first quarter of 14th century

Briefly returned to power as a converted Muslim

Kanz al-Dawla


Returned to power in Dongola as Muslim king.

Christianity survives after Dongola is ruled by Muslim kings: King




first third of 14th

Minor king of Dotawo


Minor king of Dotawo


Minor king of Dotawo


Minor king at Dotawo


Minor king at Dotawo


Minor king at Dotawo


Minor king at Dotawo


Minor king at Dotawo


Minor king of Dotawo

APPENDIX 6 Kudlannel Joel

Minor king of Dotawo late 15th century

Ruled at Jebel Adda as king of Dotawo


Appendix 7 Sectarian Christian Faiths

These are listed in descending order, beginning with Jesus and his Apostles.

WESTERN ROMAN CHURCH (LATIN RITES) Catholics (Old and New Worlds) Many Protestant Faiths (after Martin Luther)

EASTERN PATRIARCHAL CHURCH Antiochian Armenian 1. Catholics 2. Monophysites Syrian 1. Catholics 2. Jacobites 3. Malankarites (in India) Chaldean 1. Catholics 2. Nestorians 3. Malabarite (in India) Maronite Catholics




Alexandrian Coptic and Nubians 1. Catholics 2. Monophysites Ethiopian and Eritrean 1. Catholics 2. Monophysites Constantinople Byzantine 1. Byzantines 2. Melkites Orthodox 1. Greek 2. Russian


CONTENTS Introduction General or Survey References Bibliographies Late Napatan and Meroitic Times Greco-Roman Times Post-Meroitic Times Christian and Medieval Nubia Early Travelers Arabic Sources MA Theses and PhD Dissertations Children’s and Specialty Sources Books Films Modern Nubian Salvage and Relocation Museums and Archives Geology of Nubia and Sudan Language and Linguistics Modern Nubian Ethnography

207 209 218 219 230 233 235 246 250 251 253 253 254 254 255 255 257 260

INTRODUCTION Since this book is focused on Medieval Nubian Christianity, it excludes the earlier ancient Kush, Kerma, and Meroë, as well as X-Group except as they are transitions to Christian times. It also excludes later Islamic and modern times. The exceptions are the sources that deal with the previous transition to Christianity, Christians, and the Christian kings and kingdoms to the following rise of state Islam in Sudan. A wide variety of information on medieval Nubia is available to Englishlanguage readers. Given the close intersection between ancient Nubia and ancient Egypt, there is also a huge Egyptological and archaeological literature with valuable works in various European languages that describes and interprets the history and culture of this region, which straddles the present regions of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. If one considers that the roots 207



of henotheism are found in the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom’s Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton), and if the roots of monotheism are found with the exodus of Jews in the 19th or 20th dynasties, then it becomes hard to find the right historical parameters of this book. Or shall the book start with the 6thcentury BCE return of some Jews to Egypt, or when the child Jesus visited the Nile valley? Perhaps the bibliography should start with St. Mark, but these were very hard times for nascent Christendom. Perhaps it should begin with the first Christian convert at Meroë who is cited in the Bible or the first Christian states in Egypt after 312 CE or the counterpart kingdoms in Nubia, two centuries later. In short, it is possible to learn about medieval Nubia from a variety of perspectives. The time frame for this book and its bibliography is a sketch of prehistoric times to the end of the last Christian Kingdom in 1504. Those interested more in Islamic times in the Sudan should consult the third edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Sudan in the African Historical Dictionary Series published by Scarecrow Press. The ancient and medieval periods of Sudanese history are exciting areas of expanding study. The many archaeological projects of the past years are opening new vistas of history, and new works continue to appear. One major book that tries to draw much of the information together is William Y. Adams’s Nubia, Corridor to Africa. Valuable sources are the journals Kush, Meroitica, Sudan Archaeological Research Society Newsletter, and Sudan Notes and Records. Important summary studies in this area include P. L. Shinnie’s Meroë: A Civilization of the Sudan and Fritz and Ursula Hintze’s Civilizations of the Old Sudan, which is a short, readable, and well-illustrated book. Mandour el-Mahdi’s A Short History of the Sudan presents a summary of Sudanese history from antiquity to the present; and there is a general description edited by H. C. Metz, titled Sudan: A Country Study. For the late Christian and early Islamic eras, several works are useful, including Giovanni Vantini’s Christianity in the Sudan; J. S. Trimingham’s Islam in the Sudan; Yusuf Fadl Hasan’s The Arabs and the Sudan from the Seventh to the Early Sixteenth Century; R. S. O’Fahey and J. L. Spaulding’s Kingdoms of the Sudan; H. A. MacMichael’s A History of the Arabs in the Sudan; and Richard Hill’s A Biographical Dictionary of the Sudan, which cover ancient times to the 20th century. Journal abbreviations: AJA

American Journal of Archaeology, Boston


American Journal of Egyptology, Chicago


Egyptian Archaeology, London


International Journal of African Historical Studies, Boston




Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, Cairo


Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, London


Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Chicago


Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, London


KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt, Sebastopol, California


Kush, Khartoum


Meroitica, Berlin


Mitteilungen der Sudanarchäologischen Gesellschaft zu Berlin, Berlin


Bulletin d’Informations Méroïtiques (Meroitic Newsletter), Paris


Near Eastern Archaeology, Atlanta, Georgia


North East African Studies, East Lansing, Michigan


Nubian Letters, The Hague


Sahara, Milan


Sudan and Nubia, London


Sudan Archaeological Research Society Newsletter, London


Sudan Notes and Records, Khartoum


University of Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology, Liverpool, United Kingdom

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Junker, Wilhelm. Travels in Africa during the Years 1875–1878. Translated by A. H. Keane. London: Chapman and Hall, 1890. Kinross, Lord. “The Nile.” Horizon 8, no. 3 (1966): 80–99. Legh, Thomas. Narrative of a Journal in Egypt and the Country beyond the Cataracts. London: John Murray, 1817. Lepsius, C. R. Discoveries in Egypt, Ethiopia and the Peninsula of Sinai. 2nd ed. London: Bentley, 1852. Lobo, Fr. Jeronymo. A Short Relation of the River Nile. Translated by Sir Peter Wyche. London: Royal Society, 1791. ———. A Voyage to Ethiopia. Translated by S. Johnson. London: Cassell, 1887. Ludwig, Emil. The Nile, the Life Story of a River. Translated by M. H. Lindsay. New York: Viking, 1937. Markham, Clements, ed. Book of the Knowledge of All the Kingdoms, Land, and Lordships that Are in the World, and the Arms and Devices of Each Land and Lordship, or of the Kings and Lords Who Possess Them. Second Series, no. 29. London: Hakluyt Society, 1912. [Written by a Spanish Franciscan in the middle of the 14th century.] Moorehead, Alan. The White Nile. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1960. ———. The Blue Nile. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Norden, Frederick Lewis. Travels in Egypt and Nubia. Translated by Dr. Peter Templeman. London: Lockyer Davis and Charles Reymers, 1757. Pallme, Ignatius. Travels in Kordofan. London: Madden, 1844. Parry, E. G. Suakin, 1885. 2nd ed. London: Kegan Paul Trench, 1886. Percy, A. P. “Extracts from Private Memoranda Kept by Lord Prudhoe on a Journey from Cairo to Sennar, in 1829, Describing the Peninsula of Sennar.”Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 5 (1835): 38–59. Petherick, John. Travels in Central Africa and Explorations of the Western Nile Tributaries. Farnborough, England: Gregg, 1968. Originally published in 1869. Plowden, Walter Chichele. Travels in Abyssinia. London: Longmans, Green, 1868. Poncet, M. A Voyage to Aethiopia, Made in the Years 1698, 1699, and 1700. London: W. Lewis, 1709. Quatremère, E. Mémoires sur l’Égypte. 2 vols. Paris, 1811. Roberts, David (1796–1864). The Holy Land. Tel-Aviv, Israel: Nachman Ran (in cooperation with Bestseller Publications, London), 1982. [Includes the Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, and Nubia, 1842–1849.] ———. Along the Nile to Nubia: 19th-Century Prints by David Roberts: From the Collection of Peter M. Wege. Grand Rapids, MI: Grand Rapids Art Museum, 16 September–6 November 1988.



———. Exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan. Exhibition organized and cataloged by Paul Richelson. Grand Rapids, MI: Grand Rapids Art Museum, 1988. ———. Sketches in Egypt & Nubia. Den Haag: Executive Yearbook Enterprises, 1990. Plates originally published between 1846 and 1849. ———. Égypte et Nubie: Dessins de David Roberts. Paris: La Martiniere, 1992. ———. Sketches in Egypt and Nubia. Oxford: Roundhouse, 1993. ———. Jerusalem and the Holy Land Rediscovered: The Prints of David Roberts (1796–1864). Produced on the occasion of the exhibition at the Duke University Museum of Art, 26 September–29 December 1996. Durham, NC: Duke University Museum of Art, 1996. Schuver, Juan Maria. Juan Maria Schuver’s Travels in Northeast Africa, 1880–1883. London: Hakluyt Society, 1996. Schweinfurth, Georg. The Heart of Africa; Three Years, Travels and Adventures in Unexplored Regions of Central Africa, 1868–1871. Translated by Ellen E. Frewer. 2 vols. London: Sampson Low, Varston, Searle & Pivington, 1873. Shaw, W. B. K. “Darb el Arba’in.” SNR 12, pt. 1 (1929): 63–71. Shinnie, M., ed. Linant de Bellefonts: Journal d’un voyage à Méroé dans les années 1821 et 1822. Sudan Antiquities Service Occasional Paper 4. Khartoum: Sudan Antiquities Service, 1958. Speke, John H. What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. London: Cass, 1967. Originally published in 1864. St. John, James August. Egypt and Mohammed Ali; or, Travels in the Valley of the Nile. London, 1834. Taylor, Bayard. A Journey to Central Africa; or, Life and Landscapes from Egypt to the Negro Kingdoms of the White Nile. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1970. Originally published in 1854. Tothill, B. “An Expedition in Central Africa by Three Dutch Ladies.” SNR 28 (1947): 25–49. Tremaux, Pierre. Voyages to the Eastern Sudan and Septentrionale Africa. Paris: Chez Borrani, 1854. Udal, John O. The Nile in Darkness: Conquest and Exploration, 1504–1862. Wilby, Norwich, England: Michael Russell, 1998. Usick, Patricia. “Excavating the [John] Bankes [1786–1855] Manuscripts and Drawings.” SARSN, no. 10 (June 1996): 31–36. Waddington, George, and Barnard Hanbury. Journal of a Visit to Some Parts of Aethiopia. London: John Murray, 1822.



ARABIC SOURCES al-Adawi, Ibrahim. “Description of the Sudan by Muslim Geographers and Travellers.” SNR 35 (1954): 5–16. Bosayli, al-Sheikh. An Outline History of the Sudan Nile Valley. Cairo: Arab Bookshop, 1956. Dagher, Joseph Assaad. Sudanese Bibliography, Arabic Sources (1875–1967). Beirut: Librairie Orientale, 1968. Fahmi, Ibrahim. Al-Nubah, Ard al-`Itr wa-al-Dhahab: Ru’yah min al-Dakhil. Cairo: Yafa lil-Dirasat wa al-Nashr, 1990. Ghitas, Muhammad. Hamlat al-Yunisku wa-Adwa’ Jadidah `ala Tarikh alNubah. Iskandariyah, Egypt: Dar al-Ma’rifah al-Jami’iyah, 1987. Hamid, al-Sayyid Ahmad. Al-Nubah al-Jadidah: Dirasah Anthrubuluzhiyah fi al-Mujtama’ al-Misri al-Tab’ah. Egypt: ‘Ayn lil-Dirasat wa-al-Buhuth al-Insaniyah wa al-Ijtima’iyah, 1994. Ibn Battuta, Muhammed b. Ibrahim. Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325–1354. Translated and selected by H. A. R. Gibb. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1929. Ibn Khaldun, Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad. Kitab al-Ibar wa-Diwan alMubtada wa al-Khabar. 7 vols. Beirut, 1956–1961. Jayyar, Midhat. Min al-Sard al-‘Arabi al-Mu’asir. Cairo: Al-Hay’ah al-`Ammah li-Qusur al-Thaqafah, 1996. [Reference to contemporary Nubian fiction.] Khadam, Sa’ad al-. Al-Fanun Al-Sha’abiya fi Al-Nuba. Al-Qahirah: Al-Muktaba al-Thaqafiya, 1966. Khan, Geoffrey. “The Medieval Arabic Documents from Qasr Ibrim.” In Qasr Ibrim, between Egypt and Africa: Studies in Cultural Exchange (NINO Symposium, Leiden, 11–12 December 2009), edited by J. van der Vliet and J. L. Hagen, 145–56. Leuven: Peeters, 2013. Mahdi, Muhsin. Ibn Khaldun’s Philosophy of History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964. Maqrizi, Ahmad b. Ali al-. Kitab al-Mawa’iz wa al-Itibar fi Dhikr al-Khitat wa al-Athar. Edited by G. Wiet. 3 vols. Cairo: Imprimerie de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1911–1927. ———. Kitab al-Suluk fi Ma’rifat Duwal al-Muluk. Edited by Muhammad Mustafa Ziyada. 2 vols. Cairo: 1934. Mas’udi, Ali b. al-Husayn al-. Les Prairies d’Or. Translated by B. de Heynard and P. de Courteille. 9 vols. Paris: Imprimerie Imperiale, 1861–1877. Naum Shucair. Tarikh al-Sudan. 3 vols. Cairo, 1903. Sherif, Nigm ed Din Mohammed. “The Arabic Inscriptions from Meinarti.” Kush 12 (1964): 249–50.



Umari, Ibn Fadlalla al-. Masalik al-Absar fi Mamalik al-Amsar. Translated by M. Gaudefroy-Demombynes. Paris: P. Geuthner, 1927. Vantini, Giovanni. Oriental Sources concerning Nubia. Heidelberg and Warsaw: Polish Academy of Sciences; Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften for the Society for Nubian Studies, 1975.

MA THESES AND PHD DISSERTATIONS Ahmed, Osman Hassan, ed. Sudan and Sudanese: A Bibliography of American and Canadian Dissertations and Theses on the Sudan. Sudan Publication Series 9. Washington, DC: Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Sudan, 1982. Albert, Arlene Midori. “Assessment of the Variability in the Timing and Pattern of Epiphyseal Union Associated with Stress in Teenage and Young Adult Skeletons from Medieval Kulubnarti, Sudanese Nubia.” PhD diss., University of Colorado, 1995. Anon. Theses on the Sudan. 2nd ed. Khartoum: University of Khartoum Library, 1971. Baker, Brenda J. “Collagen Composition in Human Skeletal Remains from the NAX Cemetery (A.D. 350–550) in Lower Nubia.” PhD diss., University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1992. Beck, Rosemary Carol Stutts. “The Dental Pathology of Medieval-Christian Sudanese-Nubians from the Batn el-Hajar.” MA thesis, University of Colorado, 1988. Burrell, Lydia Lambe. “A Diachronic Study of Sexual Dimorphism in a Series of Human Skeletal Populations from Ancient Nubia.” PhD diss., University of Colorado, 1988. Calcagno, James M. “Mechanisms of Human Dental Reduction: A Case Study from Post-Pleistocene Nubia.” PhD diss., Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas, 1989. Cummings, Linda Scott. “Coprolites from Medieval Christian Nubia: An Interpretation of Diet and Nutritional Stress.” PhD diss., University of Colorado, 1989. Edwards, David N. “Settlement and Archaeology in Upper Nubia from the 2nd to 9th Century AD.” ML thesis, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1988. Heidorn, Lisa Ann. “The Fortress of Dorginarti and Lower Nubia during the Seventh to Fifth Centuries B.C.” PhD diss., Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago, December 1992.



Huppe, Karen Anne. “Patterns of Osteoporotic Bone Loss in a Medieval Christian Cemetery from Kulubnarti, Republic of Sudan.” MA thesis, University of Colorado, 1995. Kassem, Mohsen Mohamed Morsy. “The Failure of Vernacular Housing Policy and Design in Egypt: The Case of Nubia.” PhD diss., University of Strathclyde, 1988. Lewis, Adele H. “The Very Atmosphere of Egypt: David Roberts’ Egypt and Nubia.” MA thesis, Arizona State University, 1994. Lobban, Richard A. “Social Networks in the Urban Sudan.” PhD diss., Northwestern University, 1973. [On Mahas Nubians.] Mahgoub, Yasser Osman Moharam. “The Nubian Experience: A Study of the Social and Cultural Meanings of Architecture.” PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1990. Millet, Nicholas B. “Meroitic Nubia.” PhD diss., Yale University, 1968. Monges, Miriam Ma’at-Ka-Re. “Kush: An Afrocentric Perspective.” PhD diss., Temple University, 1995. Moore, Mary Louise. “A Proposed Date for a Limestone Relief of a Head of a Nubian from the Albert Gallatin Collection.” MA thesis, University of Memphis, 1995. Mulhern, Dawn Michelle. “The Effects of Environment and Culture on Patterns of Microscopic Histological Change in Human Bone: A Comparison of a Late Christian Nubian Population with Archaeological and Modern Populations.” MA thesis, University of Colorado, 1994. O’Connor, David B. “Nubian Archaeological Material of the First to the Second Intermediate Periods: An Analytical Study.” PhD diss., University of Cambridge, 1969. Sandy-Karkoutli, M. Louise. “Perspectives on the Nubians of Semna South, Sudan: A Craniometric Analysis.” MA thesis, Arizona State University, 1989. Smith, Stuart Tyson. Askut in Nubia: The Economics and Ideology of Egyptian Imperialism in the Second Millennium B.C. London: Kegan Paul International, 1995. [PhD diss., UCLA, 1993.] Staten, Lisa Kay. “The Reliability of Vertebral Neural Canal Morphometrics as Indicators of Nutritional Stress.” MA thesis, University of Colorado, 1990. [Ancient Nubian nutrition.] Vagn Nielsen, Ole. “The Nubian Skeleton through 4,000 Years.” Thesis, Andelsbogtrykkeriet i Odense, 1970. White, Christine Diana. “Isotopic Analysis of Multiple Human Tissues from Three Ancient Nubian Populations.” PhD diss., University of Toronto, 1991. Wolf, Pawel M. “Die Archaologischen Quellen der Taharqozeit im Nubischen Niltal.” PhD diss., Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin, 1990.



Woodcome, Mary Elizabeth. “Stories of the Self: Exhibiting Nubia and the Politics of Cultural Representation.” Honors BA thesis in Social Studies, Harvard University, 1995.

CHILDREN’S AND SPECIALTY SOURCES Books Anon. “Ancient Nubia.” Calliope (November/December 1996). Anon. Discover our Heritage. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. [Includes elementary social studies section on the dawn of civilization, Ancient Egypt, and Nubia.] Bartok, Mira. Ancient Egypt and Nubia. Glenview, IL: Good Year Books, 1995. [Colored stencils.] Bianchi, Robert Steven. The Nubians: People of the Ancient Nile. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1994. Bradshaw, Gillian. The Land of Gold. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1992; Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind (Braille), 1997. Carpenter, Allan, ed. Sudan, in Enchantment of Africa Series. Chicago: Children’s Press, 1972. Henderson, Larry. Egypt and the Sudan: Countries of the Nile. New York: Nelson, 1971. Jenkins, Ernestine. A Glorious Past: Ancient Egypt, Ethiopia, and Nubia. New York: Chelsea House, 1995. Langley, Andrew. Explorers on the Nile. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdette, 1982. Lobban, Richard A., Jr., ed. “Nubia.” Dig Magazine 5, no. 5 (September–October 2003). Lumpkin, Beatrice. Multicultural Science and Math Connections: Middle School Projects and Activities. Portland, ME: J. Weston Walch, 1995. [Section on Nubia and Egypt.] Mann, Kenny. Egypt, Kush, Aksum: Northeast Africa. Parsippany, NJ: Dillon Press, 1997. Olson, Stacie. Ancient Nubia: Egypt’s Rival in Africa, Educational Guide Accompanying the Exhibit. Philadelphia: Education Department of the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 1992. Peters, Elizabeth. The Last Camel Died at Noon. New York: Warner Books, 1991. Service, Pamela F. The Ancient African Kingdom of Kush. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1998.



Films Ahmed, Osman Hassan. A Bibliography of Documentary and Education Films on Sudan. Washington, DC: Office of the Cultural Counselor, Sudan Embassy, 1982. The Ancient Africans. 29 mins. Color. 1969. The Forgotten Kingdom. London: BBC-TV, 1971. Released in the United States by Time-Life Films. McCray, Judith. Nubia and the Mysteries of Kush. 27 mins. Color. Chicago: Juneteenth Productions, 2001. Sudan: Black Kingdoms of the Nile. Released by RM Associates (UK), 2000.

MODERN NUBIAN SALVAGE AND RELOCATION ‘Abdalla, Isma’il Hussein. “The Choice of Khashm al-Girba Area for the Resettlement of the Halfawis.” SNR 51 (1970): 56–74. Christophe, Louis, comp. Campagne International de UNESCO pour la Sauvegarde des Sites et Monuments de Nubie. Paris: UNESCO, 1977. Desroches-Noblecourt, Christiane, et al. Le déplacement du temple d’Amada. Paris: Annals de l’Institute de l’Technologie et des Transport Publics, 1966. Desroches-Noblecourt, Christiane, and Georg Gerster. The World Saves Abu Simbel. Berlin: Verlag A. F. Koska, 1968. Drower, Margaret. Nubia: A Drowning Land. London: Longmans, 1970. Fahim, Hussein M. Nubian Resettlement in the Sudan. Miami: Field Research Projects, 1972. Gauthier, Henri. Temples immergés de la Nubie: Le temple de Kalabchah. Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1911. ———. Les temples immergés de la Nubie: Le temple de Ouadi Es-Seboua. 2 vols. Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1912. ———. Les temples immergés de la Nubie: Le temple d’Amada. Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1913. Gohary, Jocelyn. Guide to the Nubian Monuments on Lake Nasser. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1998. Greener, Leslie. High Dam over Nubia. London: Cassell, 1962. Hinkel, Fritz. Exodus from Nubia. Berlin: Akademia-Verlag, 1978. Keating, Rex. Nubian Twilight. London: Rupert Hart Davis, 1962. ———. Nubian Rescue. London: Robert Hale, 1975. Kelen, Emery. The Temple of Dendur. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1972. Little, Tom. High Dam at Aswan. London: Methuen, 1965.



Lyons, Henry George. A Report on the Temples of Philae. Cairo: Ministry of Public Works, 1908. Roeder, Gunther. Les temples immergés de la Nubie: Debod bis Bab Kalabische. Cairo: Institut Français de Archéologie, 1912. Säve-Söderbergh, Torgny. “International Salvage Archaeology: Some Organizational and Technical Aspects of the Nubian Campaign.” Annals of the Royal Science Academy 15/16 (1972). ———, ed. Temples and Tombs of Ancient Nubia. The International Rescue Campaign at Abu Simbel, Philae and Other Sites. London: Thames and Hudson, 1987. Translated as Victoire en Nubie: La Campagne Internationale de Sauvegarde d’Abou Simbel, de Philae et d’autres tresors culturels. Paris: UNESCO, 1992.

MUSEUMS AND ARCHIVES ‘Abdelrahim, Isma’il H. “Museums in the Republic of the Sudan.” Prema Newsletter-Chronique, no. 5 (1995): 7–8. Anon. (Royal Ontario Museum). Ancient Egypt and Nubia. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1994. Anon. “The Nubia Museum at Aswan.” Museum International 47/2, no. 186 (April–June 1995): 18–20. Braukamper, Ulrich. “Zum Stand der Nubien-Sammlungen des Ethnographischen Museums zu Khartoum.” In Nubica, vol. 1–2, edited by Piotr O. Scholz and C. Detlef G. Muller, 235–42. Cologne: Verlag Jurgen Dinter, 1990. British Museum (Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery) Exhibitions of Egypt and Africa. Nubia from Prehistory to Islam. London: British Museum Press (with Egypt Exploration Society), 1991. Engestriöm, Tor. “Notes sur les modes de construction au Soudan.” Etnografiska Museum, Smärre Meddelanden, no. 26 (1957). Forbes, Lesley. “The Sudan Archive of the University of Durham.” In Middle East Studies and Libraries: A Felicitation Volume for Professor J. D. Pearson, edited by B. Bloomfield, 49–57. London: Mansell, 1980. Haynes, Joyce L. Nubia, Ancient Kingdom of Africa. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1992.

GEOLOGY OF NUBIA AND SUDAN Ahmed, Farouq. “The Sileitat es-Sufur Subvolcanic Intrusion, Northern Khartoum Province.” SNR 58 (1977): 226–33.



Almond, D. C. “New Ideas on the Geological History of the Basement Complex of North-East Sudan.” SNR 59 (1978): 107–36. Andrew, G. Sources of Information on the Geology of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Bulletin 3. Khartoum: Geological Survey Department, 1945. ———. “Geology of the Sudan.” In Agriculture in the Sudan, edited by J. D. Tothill, 84–128. London: Oxford University Press, 1948. Blandford, W. T. Observations on the Geology and Zoology of Abyssinia Made during the Progress of the British Expedition to That Country in 1867–68. London, 1869. el-Boushi, Isma’il Mudathir. “The Shallow Ground Water of the Gezira Formation at Khartoum and the Northern Gezira.” SNR 53 (1972): 152–61. Cahen, L., and N. J. Snelling. The Geochronology of Equatorial Africa. Amsterdam: North Holland, 1966. Delany, F. M. “Recent Contributions to the Geology of the Sudan.” Nineteenth International Geological Congress 20 (1954): 11–18. Girdler, R. W. “The Relationship of the Red Sea to the East African Rift System.” Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 114 (1958): 79–105. ———. “Geophysical Studies of Rift Valleys.” In Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, vol. 5, edited by L. N. Ahrens et al. New York: Pergamon Press, 1964. de Heinzelin, J. “Le Sous-sol du temple d’Aksha.” Kush 12 (1964): 102–10. Hussein, Mohammed Tahir. “Reconstitution of the Paleogeography of the Delta Tokar.” SNR 59 (1978): 145–65. Lofti, M., and M. L. Kabesh. “On a New Classification of the Basement Complex Rocks of the Red Sea Hills, Sudan.” Bulletin de la Société Géographie d’Égypte 38 (1964): 91–99. Mula, Hafiz G. “A Geophysical Survey of Jebel Aulia Region.” SNR 53 (1972): 162–66. Omer, M. K., and J. Perriaux. “Gedaref Sand Stones vs. Nubian Sand Stones: A Comparative Study.” SNR 59 (1978): 137–44. Swartz, D. H., and D. D. Arden Jr. “Geological History of the Red Sea Area.” Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 44 (1960): 1621–37. Whiteman, A. J. “Geological Research in the Sudan.” Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Sudan, 219–39. Khartoum: University of Khartoum, 1964. ———. “Comments on the Classification of the Basement Complex of the Red Sea Hills.” SNR 51 (1970): 126–30. ———. The Geology of the Sudan Republic. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. Worral, G. A. “A Simple Introduction to the Geology of the Sudan.” SNR 38 (1957): 2–9.



LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTICS Abd Al-Rahman Ayoub. The Verbal System in a Dialect of Nubian. Linguistic Monograph Series. Khartoum: University of Khartoum, n.d. Abdelgadir, Mahmoud Abdalla, ed. Studies in Ancient Languages of the Sudan. Sudan Research Unit. Khartoum: University of Khartoum Press, 1974. Ahmed Sukarno Abd Al-Hafiz. A Reference Grammar of Kunuz Nubian. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms of the University of Michigan, 1989. ———. Nhumhaolah Lktaba Al-Lgha Al-Nubea. Shubra, Cairo: Mtba’a AlJblaoh, 1998. Arkell, A. J. “An Old Nubian Inscription from Kordofan.” AMJ 455 (1951): 353–54. Armbruster, Charles Hubert. Dongolese Nubian: A Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960. ———. Dongolese Nubian: A Lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965. Bell, Herman. “The Tone System of Mahas Nubian.” Journal of American Languages 7 (1968): 26–32. ———. Place Names in the Belly of Stones. Khartoum: Sudan Research Unit, University of Khartoum, 1970. ———. “An Extinct Nubian Language from Kordofan.” SNR 54 (1973): 73–80. Browne, G. M. “Notes on Old Nubian.” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 16 (1979): 249–56. ———. “New Texts in Old Nubian from Qasr Ibrim, I (Jude 9–16).” Sudan Texts Bulletin 2 (1980): 16–33. ———. “A New Text in Old Nubian (Luke 1:27–29).” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 37 (1980): 173–78. ———. “Notes on Old Nubian.” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 17 (1980): 37–43. ———. “Notes on Old Nubian.” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 17 (1980): 129–41. ———. “New Texts in Old Nubian from Qasr Ibrim, II (a Bilingual Psalter).” Sudan Texts Bulletin 3 (1981): 9–19. ———. “Notes on Old Nubian.” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 18 (1981): 55–67. ———. “An Old Nubian Version of Mark 11.6–11.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 44 (1981): 155–66. ———. “The Old Nubian Verbal System.” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 19 (1982): 9–38.



———. “An Old Nubian Version of Mark 11.6–11.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 53 (1983): 259. ———. “Chrysostomus Nubianus: An Old Nubian Version of Ps.-Chrysostom.” Papyrologica Castroctaviana 10 (1984). ———. “Notes on Old Nubian.” Sudan Texts Bulletin 7 (1985): 6–13. ———. Old Nubian Texts from Qasr Ibrim. Vols. 1–3. London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1989, 1991. Bryan, M. A., and A. N. Tucker. Distribution of the Nilotic and Nilo-Hamitic Languages of Africa. London: Oxford University Press, 1948. Budge, E. A. Wallis. The Nubian Text. Oxford: Hoerce Haret, 1909. Crabtree, W. A. “The Nubian and Bari Languages.” SNR 4 (1921): 57–58. ———. “The Nubian and Bari Languages.” SNR 5 (1922): 58–60. Crum, Walter Ewing. A Coptic Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1939. Fanfoni, Luisa Bongrani. Appunti di Lingua Meroitica. Rome: Centro per le Relazioni Italo-Arabe, 1996. Faulkner, Raymond O. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1996. Gadalla, Fawzi. Meroitic Problems and a Comprehensive Meroitic Bibliography. Kush 2 (1963): 208–11. Gauthier, Henri. Dictionnaire des noms géographiques contenu dans les textes hieroglyphiques. 7 vols. Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1925–1931. Greenberg, Joseph. H. Studies in African Linguistic Classification. New Haven, CT: Compass, 1955. ———. “Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic and Hamito-Semitic.” Africa 27 (1957): 364–78. ———. The Languages of Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966. Hainsworth, Michael, and Jean Leclant. “Introduction au repertoire d’epigraphie méroïtique (REM).” MN, no. 19 (July 1978). Hair, P. “A Layman’s Guide to the Languages of the Sudan Republic.” SNR 47 (1966): 65–78. Heine, Bernd, and Derek Nurse, eds. African Languages: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Hofman, Inge. Material für eine Meroitische Grammatik. Vienna: Beiträge zür Afrikanistik, 1981. Homburger, L. “La morphologie Nubienne et L’Egyptien.” Journal Asiatique 218 (1939): 249–79. Huffman, Ray. Nuer-English Dictionary. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1929. [Nuer is an Eastern Sudanic Language, like Nubian.] Kabara, Muktar Khalil. Al-Lugha Al-Nubiah: Kaef Naktabha? [In Arabic; The Nubian language and how to write it?]. Cairo: Nubian Studies and Documentation Center, 1997.



Kohler, O. “The Early Study of the Nilotic Languages of the Sudan.” SNR 51 (1970): 85–94; 52 (1971): 56–62. Leclant, Jean. “The Position of Deciphering of the Meroitic Script.” Cairo Symposium, 1974. Lepsius, Richard. Nubische Grammatik: Mit einer Einleitung über die Völker und Sprachen Afrika’s. Berlin: Verlag Von Wilhelm Hertz, 1880. Lesko, Leonard H. A Dictionary of Late Egyptian. Vol. 1. Berkeley, CA: Scribe, 1982. Lobban, Richard A., Jr. “Problems and Strategies in the Decipherment of Meroitic.” Northeast African Studies, n.s., 1, no. 2–3 (1994): 159–64. ———. “Toward the Decipherment of Meroitic Numbers.” Proceedings of the 1999 meetings of the Sudan Studies Association Meetings at Tufts University, 2001. MacMichael, H. A. “Nubian Elements in Darfur.” SNR 1 (1918): 30–48. Millet, Nicholas B. “Some Notes on the Linguistic Background of Modern Nubian.” In Contemporary Egyptian Nubia, edited by Robert A. Fernea, 59–71. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files, 1966. Murray, G. W. An English-Nubian Comparative Dictionary. Harvard African Studies 4. London: Oxford University Press, 1923. Nebel, A. Dinka Dictionary. Wau: Verona Fathers, 1954. [Dinka is an Eastern Sudanic language like Nubian.] Plumley, J. Martin. The Scrolls of Bishop Timotheos: Two Documents from Medieval Nubia. London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1975. Plumley, J. Martin, and G. M. Browne. Old Nubian Texts from Qasr Ibrim, I. London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1988. Reinisch, L. Die Nuba-Sprache. Vienna, 1879. Sambaj, Iusif. Al-Qamus Al-Nubi [In Arabic.] Cairo: Muktaba El-Sharuq, 1998. Sayce, A.-H. “Karian, Egyptian, and Nubian-Greek Inscriptions from the Sudan.” Proceedings of the Society for Biblical Archaeology, 40th sess., 6th meeting, 14 December 1910, 261–63. Shinnie, P. L. “The Ancient Languages of the Sudan.” In Language in the Sudan: A Symposium, edited by R. W. Thelwal. London: Hurst, 1975. Stevenson, R. C. “The Significance of the Sudan in Linguistic Research, Past, Present and Future.” In Sudan in Africa, edited by Yusuf Fadl Hasan, 11–25. Khartoum: Khartoum University Press, 1971. Stricker, B. H. “A Study in Medieval Nubian.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies 19 (1940): 439–54. Till, W. Koptische Grammatik. Leipzig, 1955. Trigger, Bruce G. “Meroitic and Eastern Sudanic: A Linguistic Relationship?” Kush 12 (1964): 188–94. ———. “The Languages of the Northern Sudan: An Historical Perspective.” Journal of African History 7 (1966): 19–25.



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About the Author

Richard A. Lobban Jr. is a professional Africanist anthropologist (BS in biology, Bucknell; MA in anthropology, Temple; and PhD in anthropology, Northwestern). His MA on Oshogbo Yoruba has entitled him to be an “official” Yoruba Elder, and his doctoral research was on modern Mahas Nubians in Sudan. In 1981 he cofounded the Sudan Studies Association and was its first president. Anthropology is a holistic four-field discipline, and Dr. Lobban has worked and published in all fields of social anthropology, with the ethnography of Sudan, the physical anthropology of human and animal remains, the linguistics of ancient and modern Nubian languages, and the archaeology of Meroitic field excavations at Musawwarat es-Sufra and Abu Erteila. Dr. Lobban taught anthropology and African studies at Rhode Island College and retired as department chair, then began a second career teaching African and military studies for the U.S. Navy. He was on the faculty of Tufts University Veterinary School, American University in Cairo, and Carnegie Mellon University. He also led archaeological tours in Egypt, Sudan, and the Horn of Africa and was a journalist and expert witness in political asylum cases. Dr. Lobban has worked extensively in West Africa, especially Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, and is an active beekeeper with his academic colleague wife, Dr. Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, who also specialized in Sudan studies.