Nubia is an ancient civilization that thrives today. It stretches along the Nile River for 1,000 miles from Aswan, Egypt to Khartoum, Sudan and is considered the world’s first kingdom and dates back at least 10,000 years to early Neolithic settlements. Along the length of Nile River that cuts through the Nubian Desert, the Nubians built a stunning advanced civilization and for 100 years during the 25th Dynasty ruled over all of Egypt. The rulers of Egypt during this Nubian Dynasty were called the Black Pharaohs and among their greatest leader is Tarhaqa who built temples, pyramids and monuments throughout Nubia.
Two of the most imposing and beautiful monuments in the world are the temples that Ramses II built for himself and the Nubian Queen of Egypt, Nefertari (whose original Nubian name was Ashranda), in Abu Simbel. The magnificent temples which used to be located on the banks of the Nile River were relocated in 1960 to a specially-built mountain 200 feet above, and now rests on the shores of Lake Nasser, the second largest manmade lake in the world. Other pharaonic era temples were rescued such as the island Temple of Philae near Aswan. Some church frescoes were saved, however, almost all of Egypt’s Nubian towns and villages were submerged. Many left the settlement villages to work in Egypt’s cities such as Cairo and Alexandria. The great migration of Nubians to government-built settlements away from the Nile River was a major trauma for them and still influences their culture, music and literature.
Nubians have had significant influence in modern Egypt. Egypt’s first president Mohammed Naguib was of mixed Nubian and Egyptian origin and President Anwar Sadat was Nubian. Following Egypt’s Revolution in 2011 in which the military seized control after a popular uprising and overthrew the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the Minister of Defense, Mohammed Tantawi (a Nubian), took control and ran the country until the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces carried out free presidential elections. One of Egypt’s most popular musicians and actors is Mohamed Mounir, who is from the Aswan area. And Tayib Salah wrote the internationally recognized novel Season of Migration to the North about British colonial influence in Sudan.
Where is Nubia?
Nubia lies in the south of Egypt and the north of Sudan. Although it was split between two countries during the European colonization of Africa, it has a distinct culture and language. In Pharaonic times, it was also called the Kingdom of Kush.
For more information about modern Nubia, please visit our Resources page.
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