|Native to||Egypt, Sudan|
|Region||Along the banks of the Nile in Lower and Upper Nubia (southern Egypt and northern Sudan)|
|Era||4th–15th century. Gave rise to Nobiin.|
Old Nubian (also called Middle Nubian or Old Nobiin) 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 (homilies, prayers, hagiographies, psalms, lectionaries), and related to the state and private life (legal documents, letters), written using an adaptation of the Coptic alphabet.
Old Nubian had its source in the languages of the Noba nomads who occupied the Nile between the first and third cataracts of the Nile and the Makurian nomads who occupied the land between the third and fourth cataracts following the collapse of Meroë sometime in the 4th century. The Makurians were a separate tribe who eventually conquered or inherited the lands of the Noba: they established a Byzantine-influenced state called Makuria which administered the Noba lands separately as the eparchy of Nobatia. Nobatia was converted to the Miaphysite Christianity by Julian of Halicarnassus and Longinus, and thereafter received its bishops from the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Old Nubian is one of the oldest written African languages and appears to have been adopted from the 10th–11th century as the main language for the civil and religious administration of Makuria. Besides Old Nubian, Koine Greek was widely used, especially in religious contexts, while Coptic mainly predominates in funerary inscriptions. Over time, more and more Old Nubian began to appear in both secular and religious documents (including the Bible), while several grammatical aspects of Greek, including the case, agreement, gender, and tense morphology underwent significant erosion. The consecration documents found with the remains of archbishop Timotheos suggest, however, that Greek and Coptic continued to be used into the late 14th century, by which time Arabic was also in widespread use.
The script in which nearly all Old Nubian texts have been written is a slanted uncial variant of the Coptic alphabet, originating from the White Monastery in Sohag. . The alphabet included three additional letters ⳡ/ɲ/ and ⳣ/w/, and ⳟ/ŋ/, the first two deriving from the Meroitic alphabet. The presence of these characters suggest that although the first written evidence of Old Nubian dates to the 8th century, the script must have already been developed in the 6th century, following the collapse of the Meroitic state. Additionally, Old Nubian used the variant ⳝ for the Coptic letter ϭ.
|Phonetic value||/a, aː/||/b/||/ɡ/||/d/||/e, eː/||/i, iː/||/z/||/i, iː/||/t/||/j/||/k, ɡ/||/l/||/m/||/n/||/ks/||/o, oː/|
|Phonetic value||/u, uː/||/b/||/ɾ/||/s/||/t/||/i, u/||/f/||/x/||/ps/||/o, oː/||/ʃ/||/h/||/ɟ/||/ŋ/||/ɲ/||/w/|
The characters ⲍ, ⲝ/ϩ̄, ⲭ, ⲯ only appear in Greek loanwords. Gemination was indicated by writing double consonants; long vowels were usually not distinguished from short ones. Old Nubian featured two digraphs: ⲟⲩ/u, uː/ and ⲉⲓ/i, iː/. A diaeresis over ⲓ (ⲓ̈) was used to indicate the semivowel /j/. In addition, Old Nubian featured a supralinear stroke, which could indicate:
Modern Nobiin is a tonal language; if Old Nubian was tonal as well, the tones were not marked.
Punctuation marks included a high dot •, sometimes substituted by a double backslash \\ (⳹), which was used roughly like an English period or colon; a slash / (⳺), which was used like a question mark; and a double slash // (⳼), which was sometimes used to separate verses.
Old Nubian has no gender. The noun consists of a stem to which derivational suffixes may be added. Plural markers, case markers, postpositions, and the determiner are added on the entire noun phrase, which may also comprise adjectives, possessors, and relative clauses.
Old Nubian has one definite determiner -(ⲓ)ⲗ. The precise function of this morpheme has been a matter of controversy, with some scholars proposing it as nominative case or subjective marker. Both the distribution of the morpheme and comparative evidence from Meroitic, however, point to a use as determiner.
The most common plural marker is -ⲅⲟⲩ, which always precedes case marking. There are a few irregular plurals, such as ⲉⲓⲧ, pl. ⲉⲓ "man"; ⲧⲟⲧ, pl. ⲧⲟⲩⳡ "child." Furthermore, there are traces of older plural forms in -ⲓ, which are limited to a few roots, e.g. ⲭⲣⲓⲥⲧⲓⲁ̄ⲛⲟⲥ-ⲣⲓ-ⲅⲟⲩ "Christians"; ⲙⲟⲩⲅ-ⲣⲓ-ⲅⲟⲩ "dogs."
|Person||Independent Pronoun||Subject Clitic|
|we (including you)||ⲉⲣ||-ⲟⲩ|
|we (excluding you)||ⲟⲩ||-ⲟⲩ|
There are two demonstrative pronouns: ⲉⲓⲛ, pl. ⲉⲓⲛ-ⲛ̄-ⲅⲟⲩ "this" and ⲙⲁⲛ, pl. ⲙⲁⲛ-ⲛ̄-ⲅⲟⲩ "that." Interrogative words include ⳟⲁⲉⲓ "who?"; ⲙⲛ̄ "what?"; and a series of question words based on the root ⲥ̄.
The main distinction between nominal and verbal predicates in a main clause versus a subordinate clause is indicated by the presence of the predicate marker -ⲁ. . The major categories, listing from the root of the verb to the right, are as follows:
This can be indicated by a three different series of subject clitics, which are obligatory only in certain grammatical contexts.
"And when they rolled away the rock, Jesus raised his eyes high and said: Father, I thank you."
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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 ethno-linguistic group of people who are indigenous to the region which is now present-day Northern Sudan and southern Egypt. They originate from the early Sub Saharan African 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.
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Makuria was a Nubian kingdom located in what is today Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt. Makuria originally covered the area along the Nile River from the Third Cataract to somewhere south of Abu Hamad as well as parts of northern Kordofan. Its capital was Dongola, and the kingdom is sometimes known by the name of its capital.
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 Temple of Kalabsha, 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.
Alodia, also known as Alwa, was a medieval Nubian kingdom in what is now central and southern Sudan. Its capital was the city of Soba, located near modern-day Khartoum at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers.
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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.
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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, as the Kerma culture lasted from around 2500 BCE until its conquest by the New Kingdom of Egypt under pharaoh Thutmose I around 1500 BCE. 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.
The Kingdom of Kush was an ancient kingdom in Nubia, located at the Sudanese and southern Egyptian Nile Valley.
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 primarily in the Horn of Africa, as well as the Nile Valley, and parts of the African Great Lakes region. The Ethiosemitic languages are spoken in the Horn of Africa and sparsely in the Nile Valley. Some examples of these peoples include the Cushitic speaking ethnic groups and the Ethiosemitic speaking ethnic groups among several others.
Kulubnarti is a 1 mile (1.6 km) long island in northern Sudan. Located on the Nile, around 100 miles (160 km) south of the Egyptian border, it is part of the village of Kulb.
The Bible was translated into Old Nubian during the period when Christianity was dominant in Nubia. Throughout the Middle Ages, Nubia was divided into separate kingdoms: Nobadia, Makuria and Alodia. Old Nubian may be regarded was the standard written form in all three kingdoms. Of the living Nubian languages, it is modern Nobiin which is the closest to Old Nubian and probably its direct descendant.