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Lower Nubia

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Lower Nubia is the northernmost part of Nubia, downstream on the Nile from Upper Nubia. Sometimes, it overlapped Upper Egypt stretching to the First and Second Cataracts (the region known to Greco-Roman geographers as Triakontaschoinos), so roughly until Aswan. A great deal of Upper Egypt and northern Lower Nubia were flooded with the construction of the Aswan High Dam and the creation of Lake Nasser. However the intensive archaeological work conducted prior to the flooding means that the history of the area is much better known than that of Upper Nubia. Its history is also known from its long relations with Egypt. Linguistic evidence indicates that Cushitic languages were spoken in Lower Nubia, an ancient region which straddles present day Southern Egypt and part of Northern Sudan, and that Nilo-Saharan languages were spoken in Upper Nubia to the south (by the peoples of the Kerma culture), with North Eastern Sudanic languages from Upper Nubia later replacing the Cushitic languages of Lower Nubia. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Nubia region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt

Nubia is a region along the Nile river encompassing the area between Aswan in southern Egypt and Khartoum in central Sudan. It was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa, with a history that can be traced from at least 2500 BC onward with the Kerma culture. The latter was conquered by the New Kingdom of Egypt under pharaoh Thutmose I around 1500 BC. Nubia was home to several empires, most prominently the kingdom of Kush, which conquered Egypt during the 8th century BC during the reign of Piye and ruled the country as its Twenty-fifth Dynasty.

Nile River in Africa and the longest river in the world

The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, and is the longest river in Africa and the disputed longest river in the world, as the Brazilian government says that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile. The Nile, which is about 6,650 km (4,130 mi) long, is an "international" river as its drainage basin covers eleven countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan, and Egypt. In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.

Upper Nubia is the southernmost part of Nubia, upstream on the Nile from Lower Nubia. It is so called because the Nile flows north, so it is further upstream and of higher elevation in relation to Lower Nubia.

Julien Cooper (2017) states that in antiquity, Cushitic languages were spoken in Lower Nubia (located in the northernmost part of modern day Sudan):

Sudan Country in East Africa

Sudan or the Sudan, officially the Republic of the Sudan, is a country in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea to the east, Ethiopia to the southeast, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest. It has a population of 43 million people and occupies a total area of 1,886,068 square kilometres, making it the third-largest country in Africa. Sudan's predominant religion is Islam, and its official languages are Arabic and English. The capital is Khartoum, located at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile. Since 2011, Sudan is the scene of ongoing military conflict in its regions South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

"In antiquity, Afroasiatic languages in Sudan belonged chiefly to the phylum known as Cushitic, spoken on the eastern seaboard of Africa and from Sudan to Kenya, including the Ethiopian Highlands." [5]

Julien Cooper (2017) also states that Eastern Sudanic speaking populations from the south and west of Nubia gradually replaced the earlier Cushitic speaking populations of this region:

Eastern Sudanic languages

In most classifications, the Eastern Sudanic languages are a group of nine families of languages that may constitute a branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. Eastern Sudanic languages are spoken from southern Egypt to northern Tanzania.

Cushitic languages language family native to East Africa

The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken primarily in the Horn of Africa, as well as the Nile Valley, and parts of the African Great Lakes region by Cushitic peoples.

"In Lower Nubia there was an Afroasiatic language, likely a branch of Cushitic. By the end of the first millennium CE this region had been encroached upon and replaced by Eastern Sudanic speakers arriving from the south and west, to be identified first with Meroitic and later migrations attributable to Nubian speakers." [6]

In Handbook of Ancient Nubia, Claude Rilly (2019) states that Cushitic languages once dominated Lower Nubia along with the Ancient Egyptian language. Rilly (2019) states:

Egyptian language Language spoken in ancient Egypt, branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages

The Egyptian language was spoken in ancient Egypt and was a branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages. Its attestation stretches over an extraordinarily long time, from the Old Egyptian stage. Its earliest known complete written sentence has been dated to about 2690 BC, which makes it one of the oldest recorded languages known, along with Sumerian.

"Two Afro-Asiatic languages were present in antiquity in Nubia, namely Ancient Egyptian and Cushitic." [7]

Rilly (2019) mentions historical records of a powerful Cushitic speaking race which controlled Lower Nubia and some cities in Upper Egypt. Rilly (2019) states:

"The Blemmyes are another Cushitic speaking tribe, or more likely a subdivision of the Medjay/Beja people, which is attested in Napatan and Egyptian texts from the 6th century BC on." [8]

On page 134:

"From the end of the 4th century until the 6th century AD, they held parts of Lower Nubia and some cities of Upper Egypt." [9]

He mentions the relationship between the modern Beja language and the ancient Cushitic Blemmyan language which dominated Lower Nubia:

"The Blemmyan language is so close to modern Beja that it is probably nothing else than an early dialect of the same language." [10]

In Upper Egypt and Northern Lower Nubia was present a series of cultures, the Badarian, Amratian, Gerzean, A-Group, B-Group, and C-Group. Linguistic evidence indicates that Cushitic languages were spoken in Lower Nubia, an ancient region which straddles present day Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan, before the arrival of North Eastern Sudanic languages in the Middle Nile Valley. [11] During the Middle Kingdom Lower Nubia was occupied by Egypt, when the Egyptians withdrew during the First Intermediate Period Lower Nubia seems to have become part of the Upper Nubian Kingdom of Kerma. The New Kingdom occupied all of Nubia and Lower Nubia was especially closely integrated into Egypt, but with the Second Intermediate Period it became the centre of the independent state of Kush based at Napata at some point. Perhaps around 591 BC the capital of Kush was transferred south to Meroe and Lower Nubia became dominated by the Island of Meroe.

With the fall of the Meroitic Empire in the fourth century AD the area became home to X-Group, also known as the Ballana culture who were likely the Nobatae. This evolved into the Christian state of Nobatia by the fifth century. Nobatia was merged with the Upper Nubian state of Makuria, but Lower Nubia became steadily more Arabized and Islamicized and eventually became de facto independent as the state of al-Maris. Most of Lower Nubia was formally annexed by Egypt during the Ottoman conquest of 1517, and it has remained a part of Egypt since then, with only the far south being in Sudan.

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

Afroasiatic languages Language family

Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian and in older sources as Hamito-Semitic (Chamito-Semitic) or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and parts of the Sahel.

The Nubian languages are a group of related languages spoken by the Nubians. They form a branch of the Eastern Sudanic languages, which is part of the wider Nilo-Saharan phylum. Initially, Nubian languages were spoken throughout much of Sudan, but as a result of arabization they are today mostly limited to the Nile Valley between Aswan and Al Dabbah as well as a few villages in the Nuba mountains and Darfur.

Nubians are an ethnolinguistic group of Africans indigenous to present-day Sudan and southern Egypt who originate from the early inhabitants of the central Nile valley, believed to be one of the earliest cradles of civilization. They speak Nubian languages, part of the Northern Eastern Sudanic languages.

Cush or Kush was, according to the Bible, the eldest son of Ham, a son of Noah. He was the brother of Canaan, Mizraim (Egypt) and Phut, and the father of the biblical Nimrod mentioned in the "Table of Nations" in Genesis 10:6 and I Chronicles 1:8.

Beja people ethnic group found mostly in Sudan, but also in parts of Eritrea and Egypt

The Beja people are ethnic Cushitic peoples inhabiting Sudan, Egypt, and Eritrea. In recent history, they have lived primarily in the Eastern Desert. They number around 1,237,000 people. Majority of Beja people speak the Beja language as a mother tongue, which belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. In Eritrea and southeastern Sudan, many members of the Beni Amer grouping speak Tigre. While many secondary sources identify the Ababda as an Arabic-speaking Beja tribe due to their cultural links with the Bishaari, this is a misconception: The Ababda do not consider themselves Beja, nor are they so considered by other Beja peoples.

Meroë Ancient city along the eastern bank of the Nile River in Northern Sudan

Meroë is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah. This city was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries. The Kushitic Kingdom of Meroë gave its name to the Island of Meroë, which was the modern region of Butana, a region bounded by the Nile, the Atbarah and the Blue Nile.

The Meroitic language was spoken in Meroë during the Meroitic period and became extinct about 400 CE. It was written in two forms of the Meroitic alphabet: Meroitic Cursive, which was written with a stylus and was used for general record-keeping; and Meroitic Hieroglyphic, which was carved in stone or used for royal or religious documents. It is poorly understood, owing to the scarcity of bilingual texts.

Old Nubian language ancient variety of the Nubian language

Old Nubian is an extinct Nubian language, attested in writing from the 8th to the 15th century AD. It is ancestral to modern-day Nobiin and closely related to Dongolawi and Kenzi. It was used throughout the kingdom of Makuria, including the eparchy of Nobatia. The language is preserved in more than a hundred pages of documents and inscriptions, both of a religious, and related to the state and private life, written using an adaptation of the Coptic alphabet.

Meroitic script writing system

The Meroitic script consists of two alphasyllabaric scripts developed to write the Meroitic language at the beginning of the Meroitic Period of the Kingdom of Kush. The two scripts are Meroitic Cursive derived of Demotic Egyptian and Meroitic Hieroglyphics derived of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Meroitic Cursive is the most widely attested script, comprising ~90% of all inscriptions, and antedates, by a century or more, the earliest, surviving Meroitic hieroglyphic inscription. Greek historian Diodorus Siculus described the two scripts in his Bibliotheca historica, Book III (Africa), Chapter 4. The last known Meroitic inscription is the Meroitic Cursive inscription of the Blemmye king, Kharamadoye, from a column in the Kalabsha temple, which has recently been re-dated to AD 410/ 450 of the 5th century. Before the Meroitic Period, Egyptian hieroglyphs were used to write Kushite names and lexical items.

Kerma culture Ancient Sudanese kingdom

The Kerma culture or Kerma kingdom was an early civilization centered in Kerma, Sudan. It flourished from around 2500 BCE to 1500 BCE in ancient Nubia. The Kerma culture was based in the southern part of Nubia, or "Upper Nubia", and later extended its reach northward into Lower Nubia and the border of Egypt. The polity seems to have been one of a number of Nile Valley states during the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. In the Kingdom of Kerma's latest phase, lasting from about 1700–1500 BCE, it absorbed the Sudanese kingdom of Sai and became a sizable, populous empire rivaling Egypt. Around 1500 BCE, it was absorbed into the New Kingdom of Egypt, but rebellions continued for centuries. By the eleventh century BCE, the more-Egyptianized Kingdom of Kush emerged, possibly from Kerma, and regained the region's independence from Egypt.

C-Group culture archaeological culture

The C-Group culture is an archaeological culture found in Lower Nubia, which dates from ca. 2400 BCE to ca. 1550 BCE. It was named by George A. Reisner. With no central site and no written evidence about what these people called themselves, Reisner assigned the culture a letter. The C-Group arose after Reisner's A-Group and B-Group cultures, and around the time the Old Kingdom was ending in Ancient Egypt.

Bishari tribe Ethnic group inhabiting Northeast Africa.

The Bishari(Arabic: البشارية al-Bishāriyyah or البشاريين al-Bishāriyyīn; Beja: Oobshaari) are an ethnic group inhabiting Northeast Africa. They are one of the major divisions of the Beja people. The Bishari speak the Beja language, which belongs to the Afroasiatic family.

The Blemmyes were a nomadic tribal kingdom that existed from at least 600 BC to the 3rd century AD in northern Nubia. They were described in Roman histories of the later empire, with the Emperor Diocletian enlisting Nobatae mercenaries from the Western Desert oases to safeguard Aswan, the empire's southern frontier, from raids by the Blemmyes.

Languages of Sudan Languages of a geographic region

Sudan is a multilingual country dominated by Sudanese Arabic. In the 2005 constitution of the Republic of Sudan, the official languages of Sudan are Literary Arabic and English.

The Northern Eastern Sudanic, Eastern k Sudanic, Ek Sudanic, NNT or Astaboran languages may form a primary division of the yet-to-be-demonstrated Eastern Sudanic family. They are characterised by having a /k/ in the first person singular pronoun "I/me", as opposed to the Southern Eastern Sudanic languages, which have an /n/. Nyima has yet to be conclusively linked to the other languages, and would appear to be the closest relative of Ek Sudanic rather than Ek Sudanic proper.

Kingdom of Kush ancient African kingdom

The Kingdom of Kush was an ancient kingdom in Nubia, located at the Sudanese and southern Egyptian Nile Valley.

Cushitic peoples People primarily indigenous to Northeast Africa

The Cushitic peoples are a grouping of people who are primarily indigenous to Northeast Africa and speak or have historically spoken Cushitic languages or Ethiosemitic languages of the Afroasiatic language family. Cushitic languages are spoken today primarily in the Horn of Africa, as well as the Nile Valley, and parts of the African Great Lakes region while the Ethiosemitic languages languages are spoken in the Horn of Africa and sparsely in the Nile Valley. Some examples of these peoples include the Afar, Beja, Oromo, Somali, Amhara, Tigrayians (Tigray-Tigrinya), Gurages, and Sidama people among several others.

References

  1. Rilly C (2010). "Recent Research on Meroitic, the Ancient Language of Sudan" (PDF).Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. Rilly C (January 2016). "The Wadi Howar Diaspora and its role in the spread of East Sudanic languages from the fourth to the first millenia BCE". Faits de Langues. 47. doi:10.1163/19589514-047-01-900000010.
  3. Rilly C (2008). "Enemy brothers. Kinship and relationship between Meroites and Nubians (Noba)". Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology. doi:10.31338/uw.9788323533269.pp.211-226.
  4. Cooper J (2017). "Toponymic Strata in Ancient Nubian placenames in the Third and Second Millenium BCE: a view from Egyptian Records". Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies. 4.
  5. Cooper, Julien (2017). "Conclusion". Toponymic Strata in Ancient Nubian placenames in the Third and Second Millenium BCE: a view from Egyptian Records. Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies: Vol. 4 , Article 3. p. 208-209. Retrieved 2019-11-20. In antiquity, Afroasiatic languages in Sudan belonged chiefly to the phylum known as Cushitic, spoken on the eastern seaboard of Africa and from Sudan to Kenya, including the Ethiopian Highlands.
  6. Cooper, Julien (2017). "Conclusion". Toponymic Strata in Ancient Nubian placenames in the Third and Second Millenium BCE: a view from Egyptian Records. Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies: Vol. 4 , Article 3. p. 208-209. Retrieved 2019-11-20. The toponymic data in Egyptian texts has broadly identified at least three linguistic blocs in the Middle Nile region of the second and first millennium BCE, each of which probably exhibited a great degree of internal variation. In Lower Nubia there was an Afroasiatic language, likely a branch of Cushitic. By the end of the first millennium CE this region had been encroached upon and replaced by Eastern Sudanic speakers arriving from the south and west, to be identified first with Meroitic and later migrations attributable to Nubian speakers.
  7. Rilly, Claude (2019). "Languages of Ancient Nubia". Handbook of Ancient Nubia . Retrieved 2019-11-20. Two Afro-Asiatic languages were present in antiquity in Nubia, namely Ancient Egyptian and Cushitic.
  8. Rilly, Claude (2019). "Languages of Ancient Nubia". Handbook of Ancient Nubia . Retrieved 2019-11-20. The Blemmyes are another Cushitic speaking tribe, or more likely a subdivision of the Medjay/Beja people, which is attested in Napatan and Egyptian texts from the 6th century BC on.
  9. Rilly, Claude (2019). "Languages of Ancient Nubia". Handbook of Ancient Nubia . Retrieved 2019-11-20. From the end of the 4th century until the 6th century AD, they held parts of Lower Nubia and some cities of Upper Egypt.
  10. Rilly, Claude (2019). "Languages of Ancient Nubia". Handbook of Ancient Nubia . Retrieved 2019-11-20. The Blemmyan language is so close to modern Beja that it is probably nothing else than an early dialect of the same language.
  11. Cooper, Julien (2017) "Toponymic Strata in Ancient Nubia Until the Common Era," Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies: Vol. 4 , Article 3. Available at: http://digitalcommons.fairfield.edu/djns/vol4/iss1/3