Ancient Nubia / Kush

The term 'Nubia' is used by archaeologists to describe the Nile valley immediately south of Aswan in ancient times. The southern part of Nubia is in modern Sudan; the northernmost area of which now lies under Lake Nasser, created as a result of the building of the Aswan High Dam. A great deal is known about these sites because excavations were carried out in the 1960s, in advance of the flooding of the area.

Nubia formed a corridor along the River Nile, linking continental Africa and the Mediterranean. It was an area rich in natural resources, particularly gold and this was exploited by the Egyptians during the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC). It has been suggested that the origin of the word 'Nubia' might be nbw, the Egyptian word for gold.

The New Kingdom rulers appointed a representative, called the 'Viceroy of Kush', to look after Egypt's interests in the south. The origin of the word 'Kush' is uncertain, but the land of Kush is referred to in Egyptian texts from the Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC) onwards and seems to have been located to the south of the gold-rich area of Nubia. Kush was frequently called 'miserable' or 'wretched'. The kings of the Second Intermediate period (1750-1650 BC) Kerma Culture obviously did not find the term disparaging as they used the word 'Kushite' to describe themselves in inscriptions. The Napatan kings who ruled Egypt in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (about 747-656 BC) are also often referred to as 'Kushite'.

Related galleries