The Kindom of Kush

The Kingdom of Kush is significant as it was one of the first civilisations to develop in the valley of the Nile River. It was positioned at the same spot that the Blue Nile, White Nile and River Atbara converged. This Kingdom is also referred to as Nubia (as it is, today, occupied by this race; not to be confused with the ancient Nuba) and even as Ethiopia in some Greco-Roman records (although it is not in the vicinity of Ethiopia as we know it today). The remains and fossils of the Kushites still lay, some discovered and some hidden, in certain parts of Sudan, as we know it today.

The Kingdom of Kush arose from the Neolithic period, when sub-societies were splitting from Egypt and creating their own cultures along the Nile River. Food production was a major motivation for this development. As each tribe grew, they began to join forces, forming larger empires that each developed its own strength and power within their region. In 3800 BCE (Before our Common Era), the A-group was formed in the south of Sudan. This group left little solid evidence of having permanent settlements. The A-group disintegrated and was followed by the C-group, the group responsible for the creation of the Kingdom of Kush. This kingdom was significant and left a considerable footprint in Egyptian, Hebrew and Greco-Roman history in terms of the archaeological findings they left behind, as well as other factors such as cultural and religious evolution.

As the Egyptians sought world domination, they conquered Kush in the early 1500’s BCE. However, it took only half a century for the Kingdom of Kush to regain their independence. The Egyptian influence remained within the Kush culture, though, and archaeological findings of this civilisation include mass graves, pyramids and records of worshiping the same gods.

The Kingdom of Kush became such a force that it eventually became the 25th dynasty of Egypt. In 945 BCE, Libya ruled Egypt as the Bubastite dynasty until approximately 745 BCE. When other societies began to threaten the Bubastite dynasty from all sides, it crumbled. One of these societies was the Kushites, who approached from the south. The actual invasion by Kush came in 727 BC, when both Thebes and the Delta were seized. The Kushite dynasty lasted about 74 years and was based in today’s Sudan.

The Kingdom of Kush was considered to reach its peak during the times of the Piye and Taharka pharaohs. Pharaoh Taharka worked hard to restore early Egyptian culture. He was also committed to keeping the invading Assyrians at bay. However, in 671 BCE, he lost his battle and was forced out of Egypt. Despite this defeat, they were still a strong force of domination in Upper Nubia.

It was not long before the Kushites were invited by the eastern cultures to once again take control of Thebes and Memphis. Pharaoh Tantamani (Taharka’s successor) fell victim to Assyria again in 664 BCE, after which the Kush power began its demise. Finally, in 664 BCE, Psamtik I became the leader of the 26th Egyptian dynasty. Under his descendent, Psamtik II, Kush was invaded, forcing them to move to their capital, Meroë, believed by some to be during Aspelta’s reign.

Meroë promised stronger defences and also boasted an ironworking industry that would aid in trade and development. Kush was no longer forced to live along the Nile for trading purposes as Greek merchants had entered the area, so they were able to trade directly with these ones. Even while in Meroë, Napata remained their centre for the kings and Candaces (female rulers) to be crowned and buried, until about 300 BCE (when a complete break from Napata was made).

During the first century of our Common Era (CE), the Kush Kingdom worked together with the Romans to conquer Jerusalem. From this time on, their power diminished. Archaeological records indicate a distinct lack of grandeur in their monuments and graves at this time, until royal pyramid burials stopped completely by the fourth century CE. There is much controversy and lack of evidence regarding the demise of the Kingdom of Kush, but it is believed to be at this time that the X-group, the Ballanas, came into power.

Kush went through various eras following its disintegration. Christianity dominated between 370 and 1100 CE, followed by a medieval period, which lasted until approximately 1400 CE. Islamic Nubia arose in the mid 2nd century and continues to our present day.