THE ORIGIN OF NUBIA


                      
NUBIA
      History, Origin & Civilization
      (Extracted from the book, Reality as Myth)
                                               By
                        Onyeji Nnaji   
     
Debris is remarkable proof of certain valued existence in a place that are of ancient reckoning. Every nation in Africa that shared in the civilization of old has wreckages that prove her involvement with civilization at the time when modernity was yet to be thought of. In the entirety of the nations in the northern part of Africa, Nubian civilization showed various evidences of being ancient; even much older than the prominent Egyptian civilization. The region of Lower Nubia encountered one of the earliest phase of state formation in the world.

The excavation carried out at Qustul where the leaders of A Group were believed to have lived showed evidence of a civilization that dated beyond the Egyptian time. When rulers of the A-Group culture, who were buried in a cemetery at Qustul was excavated by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the 1960s, symbols of kingship similar to those of contemporary kings of Egypt of the Naqādah II–III period were unraveled. With the rise of the 1st dynasty in Egypt (c. 2950 BC), the A-Group culture and Nubia's independence were extinguished. No archaeological remains of the native Lower Nubians of the next 500 years have been discovered.

Considering the Black nations in the Nile region and their instances of ancient civilization which was very ostensible, evidence showed that Nubia was older in date than Egypt, both in migration and in the dates of their different civilizations. Ethiopia was earliest in date; she was succeeded by Nubia before the migration of the population that gave birth to ancient Egypt. But Nubian civilization was the oldest civilization experienced in North Africa. Ethiopia was however organized early enough, but their organized state did not give rise to the formation of organized government until the rise of Aksum. By this time, Egyptian civilization had attended its decay. Egyptian documents also speak in favour of this proof. Cheik D. Anta remarked that “Nubian civilization was the oldest of all that is known about the prehistory of the Nile Valley”, (Civilization, 179).

Nubian civilization embraced it untimely extinct following the defeat of the government in the days of Pharoah Snefru (c. 2575 BC). He conducted a raid into Nubia and established an Egyptian outpost at Buhen. West of the Nile, quarries for gneiss were opened as mineral exploitation intensified. During the 6th dynasty, the Egyptian governors of Aswān started long-range trading expeditions, sometimes combined with military raids. The most famous governor among them, Harkhuf, penetrated southward far beyond the second cataract of the Nile to a land he named Yam, whence he obtained a Pygmy whom he brought to Pepi II. Toward the end of Harkhuf's career, the Nubian chiefs united, imperiling the Aswān expeditions. A new population (called C-Group by archaeologists) inhabited Wawat, while a group known in the present day as the Karmah culture occupied Cush. During the First Intermediate Period many Nubians served as mercenaries in Egypt.

When Sesostris I of the 12th dynasty invaded Nubia about 1915 BC, he named the land south of the second cataract Cush. Sesostris III, about 1826 BC, tried to occupy Sai Island but was compelled to fall back to Semna, where he built a chain of powerful fortresses. He forbade the Cushites to pass north of Semna, except to trade at Iken (Mirgissa), a major commercial centre at the northern end of the second cataract. Semna was also where the Egyptians recorded the Nile inundation levels during the Middle Kingdom. All these were the reason for the interwoven relationship in the discus bothering on Nubia. We can hardly discuss Nubia civilization in isolation without involving Egyptian interference.

Nubia is divided into three regions as shown in the map below: Lower Nubia, Upper Nubia, and Southern Nubia. The region referred to as Lower Egypt is the northern portion of Nubia. Upper Nubia extends south into Sudan and can be subdivided into several separate areas such as Batn El Hajar or "Belly of Rocks", the sands of the Abri-Delgo Reach, or the flat plains of the Dongola Reach. Lower Nubia was in modern southern Egypt, which lies between the first and second cataract. Upper Nubia and Southern Nubia were in modern-day northern Sudan, between the second cataract and sixth cataracts of the Nile River. Lower Nubia and Upper Nubia are so called because the Nile flows north, so Upper Nubia was further upstream and of higher elevation, even though it lies geographically south of Lower Nubia.

Historically Nubia has been a nucleus of diverse cultures. It has been the only occupied strip of land connecting the Mediterranean world with "tropical" Africa. Thus, this put the people in close and constant contact with its neighbours for long periods of history and Nubia was an important trade route between sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. Its rich material culture and tradition of languages are seen in archaeological records.

    (i) The Formation of Ancient Nubia Population
Of all the nations of antiquity, Nubia stands alone as a people with the most eluded historical foundation. Being too prominent due to her civilization which was very cradle and her relationship with the ancient Egypt whose civilized prowess spread world over, Nubia, more than Egypt, should have précised history; dependable enough for other nations in the neighbourhood to trace their own roots. Unfortunately, Nubia lacks the most reliable apparatus for measuring historical limits and traces. Three unfortunate things stupefied clarity in the trace of Nubian history. The first thing was the forfeiture of her oral tradition. Another bothers on the lack of adopted scripted culture. The third reason may be flippantly taken as lack of standardized language of the ancient Nubian civilization. By standardize, we mean that Nubia did not have a single language that may have served as her cultural identity which possibly could associate them with their original root. Of course, the fact that the ancient community was an amalgam of three different set who were involved in three different migration waves opens rooms for several altercations in determining Nubian origin.

Language is the strongest cultural tie that hardly wanes easily. This is because, language does not exist in isolation; it carries the culture and tradition of the original source within it. And, while it changes owing to its intercourse with foreign influence or modernity, it does not lose the indebt culture and tradition easily. That is why Dr. Pegel remarked that, “language doesn’t change that entirely fast - it retains a signal of its ancestry over tens of thousands of years”. In the Nubian case, the more recognized relative scripted writing experienced were believed to have been adopted in the ailing part of Egyptian civilization; mostly  from 800 B.C. backwards, a time when the original history of Nubia had been deeply influenced by the Egyptian culture. We found that this later period was reckoned with the use of Meroitic language. Nevertheless, this same linguistic involvement might derive its credit from Egyptian influence; for as Jean Lectant in The Peopling of Ancient Egypt and the Deciphering of Meroitic Script, Proceedings of the symposium held in Cairo from 28 January to 3 February 1974 reveals, the origin of Meroitic language is uncertain. In summary, he says,

The next step should be comparative structural and lexicographical studies of African languages, in the first place the languages of the Sudan and the border regions of Ethiopia, some of which are now dying out. This would best be done by giving linguistic training to Sudanese students at the University of Khartoum, preferably those who have these languages as their mother tongue. This train (P. 125).
Being left with no explicitly reliable material to source the history of the ancient Nubia from, researchers had continued to flap their tensile wings on a vacuum. The most reliable source, the oral tradition cannot be found among the Nubians. They lose the most valued aspect of their existence. Losing sight on the oral tradition of any people by the inheritor is like saying that such a people cannot precisely tell about their father or mother. J. Ki-Zerboin in one of the UNESCO publications of African History asserts that, “Oral tradition is not just a second-best source to be resorted to only when there is nothing else. It is a distinct source in itself… and it lends the history of the African continent a marked originality” (P. 11).

For the reasons discussed above, Nubia has been explained to have a contested origin. The historical origin of the ancient Nubia was examined upon the suggestions raised by Wikipedia as follow,

The name "Nubia" or "Nubian" has a contested origin. It may originate with an ancient Egyptian noun, nebu, meaning gold. Another etymology claims that it originates with the name of a distinct group of people, the Noubai, living in the area that would become known as Nubia. Scholars may also refer to Nubians as Kushites, a reference to the Kush, the territory of the Nubians as it was called by Ancient Egyptians. It may originate with the Greek historian Strabo, who referred to the Nubas people.
The earliest history of ancient Nubia comes from the Paleolithic Era of 300,000 years ago. By around 6000 BCE, the Nubians had developed an agricultural economy and had contact with Egypt. The Nubians began using a system of writing relatively late in their history, when they adopted the Egyptian system.
I have said it earlier (elsewhere) that any people without oral tradition is as good as having no clear information of their parents. And at such, they stand the jeopardy of accepting whatever name strangers call them since they could not tell truly who they are. We can see it with the Nubian situation here. Accepting the view that strangers had given her – her name is what the Igbo refer to as Alu/Aru, abomination.  It sounds like the fictional Solon (638-559 BC), a famous “Athenian traveler, poet, and lawgiver”, travelling to Egypt to be told the history of his own country. You could imagine the reply of the Egyptian Priest to Solon’s questions, “Are you a Greek and did not know this about your own country?’

Three schools are sampled here on the suggestion of Nubia’s origin. The first school sourced their material from the Egyptian word, Nebu, which means gold. The second school sourced their material from the name of a distinct group of people, the Noubai. The third school is the most skeptic among the three. The claim that Strabo was the one who referred the Sudan area as Nubas sounds very plausible to me.  I have followed the Wikipedia updates on the history of Nubia for four years now. And in about three updates I have witnessed some changes resulting from new information coming from nearby researchers’ suggestions. In the 2014-2015 update history of Nubia, the Wikipedia noted in the second paragraph of the first page that the name Nubia was suggested to have derived its origin from three schools of thought.  The first was the word used by Egyptians to designate gold. The second was the meaning of Black soil in Greek. While the third point was ordinary explanation which did not have the name “Nubia” included/mentioned.

The Wikipedia explanation, based on cited document, suggests that the name Nubia was born from the situation that accompanied the journey and settlement of the first settlers in the land.  From this suggestion I wrote the first history of Nubia which was lost to the extinction of the website, www.ajuede.com in 2016. Detailed analyses of this history uncovered that both Nubia and Egypt had the same ancestral history. It further intoned that the word Nubia was given to the settlers in consonance with conversation with new settlers along the Nile. A bit of this idea is pictured by Nnaji in the following way,
It is of evidence and very significant with the Igbo settlement everywhere they found themselves to give their land an Igbo name resulting from the situation that warranted their stay and survival in the new land. We have, for instance, the case of Kambata, the earliest settlers in Ethiopia and the name “Nubia” which was founded from the explicit Igbo word signifying “you people should come”, Unu Bia or Nnu Bia (Reminiscence, 165).
According to the Igbo emigration story, Nubia belonged to the first set of emigrants classified in Reminiscence as Ndi Ojukwu (Walker Travellers). The first set which archaeologists unearthed their potteries and revealed that they made potteries left in the ailing part of the Nsude/Nsukka civilization; Mesolithic period, around 500,000 – 300,000 B.C. At this time, other parts of the world were yet in Paleolithic era. Ethiopia settled first, particularly the Kambata. Walker travellers marked the A-group of the Nubian foundation. The next emigrant along the Nile Valley was the set labeled as the B-Group Nubia. They belonged to the race of Anu; the group that founded Egypt earliest. As it had been the tradition of the Igbo settlers in other lands ever, newcomers do not always feel relaxed staying in an already found land; they rather go beyond to settle in a new land where they would control by themselves. When the first settlers in Nubia left, they found population already in Ethiopia and went beyond and settled above Ethiopia. By this time, the land had no name.

The name, Nubia came through successive migration into the region. In the later days when the group in the company of Lord Tera Netar arrived at the region, the Nubian population requested, beckoning on them to join them, but the population gave no consent. To beckon on the latter population, they said, Unu bia, translated to mean, “you should come”. Through this reference, any time the Egyptian population referred to them in the successive years they called them, Nu bia, with the clipping of the initial vowel, U. With time, the area became known to be Nubia. Egypt only used Nebu to refer to gold. The fact that Nubia had gold had never made the Egyptians to call the country Nebu; it was only as a reference to the gold in the land that Egypt called Nebu.
Greece had the first Olympic in 776 B.C. at this time, Nubia civilization had waned completely. Even the later part of Nubian civilization was older than this period. 

According to Diop Anta, Nubia civilization was the oldest of the civilizations in the Nile. Now, if Nubia was given her name by Strabo as some records insist, what was the name Nubia had in the beginning? Of course, we all know that no people actually exists having no name. The history of the countries in the Northern part of Africa, especially those on the plane of the Nile River was highly tented because of Greek influence. Greek was the first to call Ethiopia Kush. Of course, Aristotle referred to Ethiopian as thick Black/charcoal, considering the Ethiopians as people who lived under the sun. Finding Nubia along the same axis with thick black colour, Greek called her Ethiopia also. And being ignorant of the history of Nubian civilization, they labeled it The Kingdom of Kush. The worse falsehood is seen in the Wikipedia update of 13th February, 2016 which claimed that

Greeks occupied Egypt from the Ptolemaic Period (332-30BC), they called the land south of Egypt, Ethiopia. Romans adopted that name for Nubia when they came and defeated the Ptolemaic Dynasty.
Greek called Nubia Ethiopia, this is true; but the adaptation by the Romans appears as though the editor this time was blind from his eyes down to his mind.  Researchers have so easily forgotten, perhaps they have not known that the Zulu of South Africa were in the early civilization of Nubia before it was defeated by the government of Pharoah Snefru (c. 2575 BC) and the Zulu returned southward. If Wikipedia editors had known of this, it would have been suggested that Nubia was Bantu like the Zulu.
The word, Nubia, started with the earliest Egyptians. Nevertheless, it was not an Egyptian word; it was rather a reference as shown above. The evidence of the origin of the earliest Nubians was evident in their construction of pyramids, potteries and the use of stone tools. Afigbo spoke of this bilateral relationship in The Igbo and Their Neighbours as follow.

Until the colonial period the Igbo had sustained and meaningfully maintained direct contact only with these ethnic nationalities living immediately around them and beyond. There is probably no doubt that some Igbo trade items, especially iron, found their way through the hands of middlemen to the central Sudan and beyond. Trade, perhaps, may form the basis of their second contact after the ancient Nubia was founded by the Igbo race in the Stone Age, (Reminiscence, 160).
There is however no evidence that shows a sustained unbroken cultural interchange between Igbo land and the central Sudan in the present day. The ancient pyramids, of course, had remained remarkable for the population that had had contact. with or had originated from the memorable Nsukka/Nsude civilization What has remained as evidence of the early contact had remained with the history of the name Nubia, not much was found for credible proof of economic relationship between the two nations.

(ii) The Misconception about Nubia History
We have noted some of the factors that necessitated the continuous wrong explanations given to the Nubian society/history in the pages above. What we refer to as the misconception here bothers on the wrong suggestion of the meaning and origin of the word, Nubia. To discuss this, we shall revisit the excerpt from the Wikipedia record above.
The name "Nubia" or "Nubian" has a contested origin. It may originate with an ancient Egyptian noun, nebu, meaning gold. Another etymology claims that it originates with the name of a distinct group of people, the Noubai, living in the area that would become known as Nubia. Scholars may also refer to Nubians as Kushites, a reference to the Kush, the territory of the Nubians as it was called by Ancient Egyptians. It may originate with the Greek historian Strabo, who referred to the Nubas people.
I think the editor(s) of this page was/were confused by the multiple information they had seen in books with varying suggestions. Otherwise I do not think that any comparative historian or researcher would sit down on such a legendary community like Nubia vested with the level of civilization not quantifiable with that which were found among her contemporaries t that early period and attempt to add to what had no open end. Where this is not the editor’s problem, then it is apparent that he larks that necessary information about the population of the inhabitants of Nubia and her neighbours. 

There are three concepts considered; two are related, while one is considered independently whenever the history of the Nubia is brought to closer view.
There is Nubia and there is Nuba. This often causes great confusion. The Nuba are the different peoples living in the Nuba Mountains in Southern Kordofan, still in Sudan. The Nubians today are a people who live along the Nile at the border between Egypt and Sudan. Many of them were relocated when the Nasser Dam was built. The Nubians are considered to be descendants of the great Nubian Kingdoms which western historians called Kush. She is also associated with Meroe; Nobatia; Makuria (Dongola) or Alodia (Alwa). The word ‘Nubia’ is used to describe the land along the Nile south of Egypt; divided into a ‘lower Nubia’ for the area between the first and the second cataract, and an ‘upper Nubia’ for the land beyond the second cataract.

The term, Nubae occurred first in the work of Erastothenes (276 to 194 BC) in the later days of Nubian history. He was the first known writer to mention a tribe called Nubae. The original text was not found; instead, Strabo was found speaking on Erastothenes’ authority when he said:

The parts on the left side of the course of the Nile, in Libya, are inhabited by Nubae, a large tribe, who, beginning at Meroë, extend as far as the bends of the river, and are not subject to the Aethiopians but are divided into several separate kingdoms (Geographica, book XVII; 2) .
From the description of the area, it was apparent that Strabo was talking about Nubia in his very little idea of the country side. The mispronunciation of Nubia here has nothing to do with the origin of the name, but rather occurred as a defile form of the word possibly that could come from a stranger. Erasthotenes was moving downstream, along the Nile when he found that the Nubae lived between Meroe and Dongola. The beauty in hisfindings was the clear distinction between the Aethiopians and the Nubae. Claudius Ptolemaeus’ Geographica, in c.150 AD gave his own explanation of the people in the area. Ptolemaeus says that the Nubae live to the far west of the Avalitae. The Point is, Ptolemaeus is in this paragraph talking generally about the people east of the Nile, and he places the Avalitae to the African coast of the bay of Eden. Actually, Ptolemaeus mentions several tribes living between the Nubae and the river Nile.

Descending on the matter straight, the Kings of Meroe no longer cared much for Lower Nubia., and neither did the Romans: Procopius of Caesarea (500-565 AD), relates how the Emperor Diocletian (245–312 AD) decided to withdraw Roman troops from Lower Nubia. Two nations in the southern part troubled him: the Blemmyae (Beja) to the south-east and the Nobatae to the south-west at a place called Premnis. This encounter was presented in Procopius’ History of the Wars, c. 550 CE: Book I; 19 in the following way:

So he persuaded these barbarians [the Nobatae] to move from their own habitations, and to settle along the River Nile […]. For in this way he thought that they would no longer harass the country about Pselchis at least, and that they would possess themselves of the land given them, as being their own, and would probably beat off the Blemmyae and the other barbarians. 

And since this pleased the Nobatae, they made the migration immediately, just as Diocletian directed them, and took possession of all the Roman cities and the land on both sides of the River beyond the city of Elephantine.
 
Precisely, the Nobatae were not subjects of Meroe. At this time, around 300 AD, Meroe’s power declined rapidly, weakened by the advance of people from both East and West. This condition attracted the attention of the first Christian ruler in Ethiopia, Ezana (330–356 AD). In an inscription found in Meroe, he announced thus:

I took the field against the Noba when the people of Noba revolted and did violence to the Mangurto; Hasa and Barya, and the Black Noba waged war on the Red Noba. I fought on the Takkaze [Atbara] at the ford of Kemalke. They fled, and I pursued the fugitives twenty-three days slaying them and capturing others and taking plunder; I burnt their towns, and seized their corn and their bronze and the dried meat and the images in their temples and destroyed the stocks of corn and cotton; and the enemy plunged into the river Seda [Blue Nile].
I arrived at the Kasu [Kush], slaying them and taking others prisoner at the junction of the rivers Seda and Takkaze. I dispatched troops up the Seda against their towns of Alwa and Daro; they slew and took prisoners and threw them into the water and they returned safe and sound. And I sent the troops down the Seda against the towns of straw of the Noba and Negues; the towns of masonry of the Kasu which the Noba had taken were Tabito, Fertoti; and they arrived at the territory of the Red Noba, and my people returned safe and sound after they had taken prisoners and slain others and had seized their plunder
Despite advances made by archaeologists and linguists in unraveling the complex situation around Meroe, it is still impossible to say what really happened. But from Ezana’s observation, it is apparently that the Black Noba was the ones revolting; they attacked the neighbouring people, including the Red Noba and they took over some Kasu towns.

The red Noba were the first set of white colour to dwell in Nubia. They were the surviving remnants of the descendants of Esau (The first son of Isaac). Their father originally settled in Egypt in the days of King David. David destroyed many cities of the Edomites. He destroyed Amalek a few days after Ziklag was invaded by the Amalekites. He burnt the land and destroyed it totally. Amalekites were the home of the descendants of Amalek who was the grandson of  Esau's eldest son, Eliphaz (Gen. 36:16). By this time the king of Amelek was King Hadad. At his defeat, Hadad ran to exile in Egypt. There he acquired  wealth of cattle. 

When David died, Hadad returned and gathered the remnants of his subjects alongside the nations in the surrounding, including the Medianites to fight Solomon. History has it that the nations turned against themselves in confusion and slew themselves; Hadad ran away and Edom remained vassal hence as David had subjected her. Edom was ruled by delegates from Judah until Edom was shared between Israel and Jordan. Accoding to Tanakh, a history book on the dwellers within the red sea, Hadad settled at the lower Nubia kingdom where he is survived by the dominant Fulani race today.


The red Noba introduced cattle rearing in Nubia, for the acquired the culture from Egypt where there father stayed during his exile. The species of cow the Fulani are known with was particularly Egypt. The are different from the type of livestock found elsewhere in the Middle East or down here in West Africa. a clear evidence is found on the engraved image dating back to 4000 BCE and beyond. According to the observations made by Dr. Nieves Zedeño, Nabta Playa are remarkable as the home of this special species of cow. found in Nabta Playa also is the cow emblem shown below



This emblem was unearthed in the area with “the wadi of sacrifices” were conducted. It was concluded that these cattle burials and offerings appear to indicate the presence of a cattle cult. Radiocarbon dating placed these cow burials at around 5500 BCE, thus at least two thousand years before the emergence of the well-known cattle cults of ancient Egypt, such as those of the cow-faced goddess Hathor, the universally known goddess Isis, and the sky goddess.  


Other proofs found at Nabta Playa are shown below.
    


The origin of the Fulani is traced beyond Egypt. Of course, basing one’s assertion on the similarities of Fulani and other parts of Africa, Egypt will be very far. The truth that cannot be overstated is the fact that the nomadic character that finally formed the base of what the Fulani hold as their totemic emblem was derived from Egypt. This is the reason why some faulty historians had claimed that the Fulani had originated from Egypt. Today, the confused Fulani are insisting that they originated from Nubia; but there is no truth in it. 

In the next few centuries three Christian Kingdoms emerged. The first one is Nobatia in Lower Nubia; there’s little doubt that Nobatia was established by the Nobatae mentioned by Procopius. The second one is Makuria, between the third cataract and somewhere between the fifth and the sixth; also known after its capital as Dongola, it could well have evolved from the part of the Kushite Kingdom that was taken over by the Black Noba. The third is Alodia to the South of Makuria; also known as Alwa, it could have been the remainder of the Kushite Kingdom. The rulers of these kingdoms were converted to Christianity by missionaries from different sects.

Turning to the Nuba, a group of people who settled at the Nile and partly on the hill, we meet entirely different historical dimension. They occupied Sudan’s Southern Kordofan Province, known as Jibal al-Nuba or Nuba Mountains. The origins of most Nuba peoples are obscure, but there is no doubt that they are Africans. The little information available for researchers was the idea of S. F. Nadel. As he puts it,

We know little about the ancient history of the Nuba tribes. […] It often seems as if historical traditions had been cut short by the overpowering experience of the Mahdist regime (1881- 1898), which must have severed all links with a more distant […] past. In some tribes the tradition of past movements or previous places of settlement are summarized in one sentence: ‘we have always lived here.’ Other tribes have more definite and more illuminating traditions, which may even be supported by objective evidence. […] They shed no light on the question of the original home of the Nuba peoples, nor do they supply information as to when and how this area became the habitat of its large and varied population (The Nuba, 4-5).
In another page, Nadel remarked that the term Nuba means indigenous. There are simply neither written sources nor archaeological findings that can shed more light on the nature of movement that brought all the different Nuba tribes to their present place. The Nubas are suspected to have arrived to the area from various directions and in the course of thousands of years they spread into distinct settlements. Today there are over fifty Nuba tribes, who speak as many different languages. Traditionally the Nuba are farmers, but they are now employed in all segments of society.

For centuries, the geographical area where the Nuba tribes live has been known as Dar Nuba: the land of the Nuba. The Tegali Kingdom (a Nuba kingdom) was known on its own accord, as were several individual hills, but to the Arab people living around the area; the people of the Mountains were all Nuba. The Europeans, relying on the Arabs for information, used the same name. Until very recently the Nuba people themselves would rather use their tribal name and many didn’t really consider themselves to be Nuba. In Yousif  Kuwa Mekki’s view,  

It is one of the funniest things: when you were in the Nuba Mountains, you just knew your own tribe. We for example were Miri. So if we were asked: "Who are the Nuba?" we would try to say: "The other tribes - but not us." Only when we came out of the Nuba Mountains, to the north or south or west, we learned that we are all Nuba
For the majority of the Nuba tribes there is nothing to suggest about any relationship with the Nubas on other Nile. The only Nuba tribes that can be linked to the Nuba on the Nile are those speaking one of the Nubian languages. In order to understand more about the relationship between the two groups, we need to look into linguistics classifications but this book is not dispose for such.

In the work of D. A. Welsby: The Medieval Kingdoms of Nubia, 2002, we experienced the upsurge of another name suggested to have given birth to the word, Nubia. Welsby says that,
A graffito in Greek, carved on the wall of the former Temple of Isis at Philae sometime after 537, reads ‘I, Theodosios, a Nubian’ (Nouba) and provides evidence for the name used by the Nubians to describe their ethnicity (P.11).
Now, we have Nuba, Nouba, Nubi, Nobae, Noba, Noubai and Nubia. Which of the words gave rise to the conflicted Nubia? From the discussion on the misconception, we can understand the position of the words individually. Noba is a settlement inside Nubia. Nouba and Noubai were invented by researchers to defend certain nomenclatural ignorance. If theodosios, a Nubian ruler late in history as the decay of Egyptian civilization, should rise up and assert that another name for Nubia is Noubai, we would need him to tell us what the earliest settler classified as A-Group Nubians where called and how the name came to be.  It is of evidence from research findings that the petti settlements in the Sudan area; be it Nuba, Noba or others never bore the name until their arrival in the Nubian commination. Worthy of note also  is the fact that all the strangers like Strabo, Ezana, Erastothenes and others who had discussed issues connected to the ancient kingdom of Nubia had done so with their knowledge limited to the very part of Nubia which they encountered individually. Therefore, their limited explanation which did not cover the entire nation’s history cannot be sacrosanct the origin of the inhabitants of Nubia.

We have taken time to dig deep into this issue to exhume the level of their differences to assert that all these ethnic groups were united into a body under the umbrella of the earliest settlers, Nubia and nothing more. More about Nubian origin is uncovered in the nature of their civilization. The fact that the subsequent migration wave into Egypt after the first set led by Lord Tera, in the pre dynastic era, were none Igbo speakers; the rhetoric in the response of the migrants should spore such nomenclature. Nubia was born from such action; it had never been the name of any people within the globe to have been reenacted. Even from archeological findings, the differentiation of the different migration to the Nubian settlement was not too difficult; for from their cultural differences, it was too ostensible that they were different people living together as a nation. Of course, Adams proved this true,

Elliot Smith and Demy had no difficulty in racial differences among the skeletons from Nubian grave types. The people of the 'A-Group' recognizing the various they believed to be identical with the Pre dynastic Egyptians, while in the 'B Group' they perceived a much stronger Negro strain. This element was still believed to be present, although much diluted, in the 'C-Group' ... The anatomical work of Smith and Derry can be criticized on a number of grounds. Even with the best of intentions and under the best conditions, the methods available to them at the beginning of the twentieth century were primitive and highly subjective. Heavy emphasis was placed on a small number of characteristics, such as the much abused cephalic index, and many of them were morphological features which could not be verified by measurement.. .It was in many respects a pseudo-science, [and] a far cry from today's scientific study of population dynamics (Adams,91-92).
(iii) Nubia Civilization

The history of the civilization of the ancient Nubia always interweave with that of the ancient Egypt, perhaps because of their historical relationship resulting from their environmental sameness. Egypt was civilized by the peasants who settled at the Nile Valley in the late 4000 B.C. They later changed their course and moved up to unify the Egyptian population for the sole purpose of setting up a civilization that set them on the pinnacle of Egyptian economic and political powers. In the Nubian case, the nomadic farmers did not change their primary intention like the suddenness of the Egyptian civilizers. They rather followed their course gradually and naturally before the need to civilize sprung among them. The relationship of these two ancient communities down to their way of life speaks even louder in their anatomical composition and the nature of kingship they both adopted. One could hardly differentiate the kings of the neighbouring countries, except for two main identities as shown below.

  
From the pictures shown above, we can find a few differences in the two kingdoms’ kings. The first was one of the earliest king of Nubia while the second was a pharaoh in Egypt before the period when Pharoah Snefru (c. 2575 BC) overtook Nubia. From what the eyes could see, the kings of Nubia had different crowns from the pharaohs of Egypt. Apart from the difference in the nature of their crowns, Egyptian pharaohs had never included the heads of serpents on the kings’ crowns up till the reign of Sesostris. This new fashion of the Pharaohs crowns, beginning with Pharaoh Mycerinu, has remained till the twelfth Dynasty of the Egyptian kings. At this period we found a little modification of the Pharaohs’ crows. In the reign of Pharaoh Sesostris I, the crown included symbol that represented the presence of serpents.

Again, the inclusion of the serpent’s head still showed certain difference, for while Nubian kings carry two serpent heads, Egyptian pharaohs carry one serpent. These differences were the remarkable features of the Nubian civilization.

Nubia was primarily inhabited by the earliest settlers because of the humidity of the land which promoted continuous grassing and planting. The first and second cataracts were favoured by human population because of this reason, which was necessitated by the Nile River. The inhabitants were dominantly farmers in their successive generations; basically in the Mesolithic era. The Paleolithic Nubian society was evidently proven to have had mastery in the use of stone tools.

A more intensive investigation of the areas of Gamai West, Saras West, Saras East, and Murshid West undertaken by archaeologists resulted in the discovery of three A-Group campsites and one A-Group cemetery. The tendency to find an increasing number of A-Group settlement sites was continued in the fourth season, when work became concentrated at Saras East. Six new settlement sites were found, but only two were discussed in minor detail, these being 11- Q-72 and Il-Q-11, according to archaeological records. The former was noted as a campsite “of an exceptional because its stratigraphy was preserved to a depth of 2.10 metres. Six levels at this site were of A-Group date, and a number of whole vessels, at that time were found. 

Considering the exceptionally deep deposit at this site it is very unfortunate that the site was not excavated in further detail, as it is undoubtedly one of the few such deeply stratified A-Group sites ever known. A single burial site, 11-Q-76, was found, consisting of a few shallow, oval graves, all but one of which lacked human fossils and burial tools. Otherwise, the remaining habitation sites were described as Denuded of structural remains. In fact, they consist simply of a layer of refuse on the surface of the ground which varies from ten to twenty-five centimetres in depth. These layers contain the normal occupation debris of animal bones, stone tools and the debitage of the tool industry, ash and charcoal, and pottery which is generally of a coarse, domestic type.

Because of the discovery of greater number of habitation sites, it was now finally possible to compare A-Group settlement and burial sites, and a noteworthy distinction was that there existed a difference in the pottery types represented at each type of site. The red-polished plain wares, the red-and black rippled wares, and the hard grey and red Egyptian wares were common in the cemeteries, whereas the habitation sites were largely represented by utility wares such as the brown coarse and brown polished ceramic types. An important feature of both site-types is that potsherds and other material of A-Group date were often found in association with material of later periods, especially C-Group. This has led to the underlying, but unproven assumption that there may have been continuity from A-Group to C-Group periods at these sites. The evidence has, however, led to contradictory opinions. Nordstrom in one instance noted that:
There seems to exist a fairly clear line of development from the classic Early Dynastic A-Group to a C-Group-like assemblage, especially in the two camp sites 11-M-7 and ILL 14 in Saras, reported above. The least we can Say is that the two groups have occupied the same site in more than one case and that there is no evidence of any break in the occupation (Kwh 14: 63).
The formative periods of the crystalline Nubian civilization were marked with the construction of pyramids and temples for the various gods known to the early society. Unlike the Egyptian pyramids constructed for monumental purposes, the Nubian pyramids were constructed to house deities like the stepped pyramids of Nsude/Nsukka civilization in the ancient Igbo land. Some of the pyramidsin Nubia were found with evidence of burial tombs dating back to the inception of this civilization. In the cemetery near the ancient town of Gematon in Sudan, for instance, the remains of 16 pyramids with tombs were underneath dating back to around 2,000 years. This shows the Nubian kingdom had flourished in Sudan before the era when western travellers actually knew about it. One of the dilapidated pyramids in Gematon is shown below.


Pyramid building was popular among the Nubians. They built them until their kingdom collapsed in the fourth century AD. Derek Welsby, a curator at the British Museum in London, led the team that excavated some collapsed pyramids in Gematon since 1998. The largest pyramid found at Gematon was 10.6 meters (about 35 feet) long on each side and would have risen around 13 m (43 feet) off the ground.

Image result for Nubia
As part of the society’s art, pyramids were also contracted as a show of wealth. They wealthy ones hired labourers to set pyramids that survived their names. Sometimes this was done as a means of preparing one’s own grave beforehand. Wealthy and powerful individuals built some of the pyramids, while people of more modest means built the others. They're not just the upper-elite burials. In fact, not all the tombs in the cemetery have pyramids: Some are buried beneath simple rectangular structures called "mastaba," while others are topped with piles of rocks called "tumuli." Meanwhile, other tombs have no surviving burial markers at all.

A number of major sites showed the Nubia map of one great kingdom and Meroitic archaeological sites. Following the tarmac road that connects Khartoum to Atbara, a few distance of about 50 kilometre before arriving at Musawwarat Es Sufra, one finds the largest temple complex dating back to the Meroitic Period. It consists of two main parts: the Great Enclosure and the Lion Temple. The Great Enclosure is a vast structure consisting of low walls, a porch, two reservoirs and two inclined long ramps. The picture of this ancient city walls is at the beginning of this chapter. The purpose this enclosure had served is nebulous. Some writers had suggested that the beautiful mansion may have been used as lounge for pilgrims or a trade centre. But the level of affluent and costly decoration vested on the building seems to suggest that it might be a royal palace. 

There was however another suggestion that it had been an elephant training camp. In addition to the two ramps that might have been used for the big animals to go up and down, and also in addition to the elephants' statues that can be found in the vicinity. But the presence of more dignified structures that may be supposed were dedicated for such purpose are found in Bubia, though in their dilapidated forms.  There is, for instance, the Ruins of the Merotic temple at Musawwarat es-Sufra having a sculpture that epitomizes the presence of elephant in it in the past.

One peculiar thing about ancient civilizations in Africa, even around the globe, is the adaptation of one image or the other as the easiest way of explaining the function of the place where it is found. We have Nsude, Saqqara, Giza etc. as proofs that at one time and the other, such areas experienced heavy concentration of the human population. The presence of the surviving monuments then remain the only viable proof that at the time mentioned by each civilization, that part of the country was hallowed and maintained like the Roman Capitol. Following this idea of purpose driven monuments, this merotic temple appears more to me as an elephant camp. The arrangement of the large building into a wider part for easy movement of elephants and the composite parts that appeared relatively separate rooms all gave the temple a shape that defeats an elephant camp.

Following this observation of the purposes attached to monuments and buildings of ancient communities, it appeared to me that the contemporary Nubia society may have lost sight of the meaning of the dilapidated walls in Sudan. Another complication to the deciphering of the real purposes of these monuments could be blamed on the influences of Arab in the area. We have a similar case here in Nigeria. During the glowing moment of the ancient Benin Empire of the 1440s, the palace of the Oba of Benin and other gallery centres were adored with both antiquity and the then contemporary artifacts and potteries of Benin. 

Around that same period, the Portuguese sailed across that Atlantic toward the Bights of Benin and finally stumbled on attractive sites of the then glorious Benin. Seeing such a marvelous art flourishing in the inner Africa, the Portuguese wanted to register their presence by demanding modifications for the Benin bronze.  Than heavens, Benin did not give consent to such suggestions. This reason only is capable of denying the modern Benin better knowledge of their history and the meaning of her arts. I supposed this is what had happened to Nubia.

Next to the Lion Temple is an unidentified edifice known as the Kiosk, reflecting an amalgam of different cultures. It showed evidence of different civilizations who may have visited Nubia in her heyday. And as the temple shows, the visitors have all left a distinctive mark on its architecture.

                                                         Lion Temple

Closer to Jabbal Barkkal there are two more sites worth visiting. The Pyramids of Nuri where Taharqa is buried in the largest of its pyramids. When it was excavated in 1917 archaeologist George Reisner uncovered a collection of over 1,000 small statues of the late king. Finally a visit to the Tombs of Al-Kurru is another important site in the Nubian society. Only two tombs are opened to visitors, that of King Tanwetamani, Taharqa's successor and nephew, and that of Tanwetamani's mother Qalhata. Both include fabulous paintings that enjoy a great level of preservation.

The Nubian kingdom controlled a vast amount of territory in Sudan between 800 B.C. and the fourth century A.D compared to the population of the nation in the earliest time when the civilization kicked off. There are a number of reasons why the kingdom collapsed. One important reason is that the rulers lost several sources of revenue. The number of trade routes that had kept the kingdom began to lose attention as the trade partner changed to another route. As a result, Kush lost out on the economic benefits, and the Kush rulers lost out on revenue opportunities. Additionally, as the economy of the Roman Empire deteriorated, trade between the Nubia and Rome declined, further draining the Kushite rulers of income. As the Kushite leaders lost wealth, their ability to rule faded. Gematon was abandoned, and pyramid building throughout Sudan ceased. Wind-blown sands, which had always been the problem for those living at Gematon, covered both the town and its nearby pyramids.


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