The ancient civilisation of Nubia was significant, not only in terms of its sheer extent, but also for its age. Indeed, the society, its remains and its records date this civilisation back some 5000 years. The area once loosely defined as Nubia today comprises of the southern part of Egypt and the northern area of Sudan. However, the specific area has changed over the centuries. It certainly ran along the banks of the valuable Nile River, which provided water, as well as an effective transportation system, to this group of ancient Africans. It is still held to have been bordered by both the Libyan Desert and the Red Sea.
Nubia was vulnerable in its situation because of its close proximity to Egypt as well as its narrow stretches of fertile land that could not always sustain the growing population. Cush was the Nubian kingdom of the south. This was such a significant power that it even ruled over Egypt for over 50 years in the 8th and 9th centuries Before our Common Era (BCE). The three capitals of the kingdoms that made up the Cush Empire were Kerma (2400 to 1500 BCE), Napata (1000 to 59 BCE) and Meroë (590 BCE to 300 CE). These dates are approximations.
Because of the limited space available, Nubia was never going to reap wealth from agricultural pursuits. In fact, there was scarcely enough to sustain the Nubian people. Their trade and commerce had to rely on other resources. Nubia was fortunate in that it enjoyed the ample supply of the land, which yielded gold, diorite stones and copper. The Nubians traded with Egypt, which was a financially prosperous nation, and this gave them the economical security that they required.
The Nubian civilisation was a black race, setting it apart from states like Egypt, who appeared lighter and more ‘Arab’ in their physical structure and features. Their cultural and societal norms were taken largely from the surrounding civilisations, like the Turks and Arabs. A major indication of this type of ‘hijacking’ was the Nubian fad of building pyramids, a distinctly Egyptian trend. These buildings have taught archaeologists and historians much about this ancient civilisation, proving most useful even to the present day. The Nubians injected their own style into these cultures and even influenced them in a reciprocal way. Egypt adopted many of the art techniques and religious ideals from Nubian travellers. The Nubian society, as a whole, converted to Christianity in the 6th Century of our Common Era (CE). In the 13th Century, the Arab invasion meant that these ones then adopted Islam as their religion of choice.
Such ancient civilisations have laid the foundations of the political, social and religious orders that are effective today. They reveal much of Africa’s early societies and how these ones affected the movements and development of man on this continent. As such, they are invaluable.