Lower Nubia

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Lower Nubia is the northern portion of Nubia, downstream on the Nile from Upper Nubia. It lies between the First and Second Cataracts, roughly from Aswan in the north to Wadi Halfa in the south. A great deal of Lower Nubia was 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 the area is much better known than that of Upper Nubia. Its history is also known from its long relations with Egypt.

Lower Nubia was home to a series of cultures, the Badarian, Amratian, Gerzean, A-Group, B-Group, and C-Group. During the Middle Kingdom the area 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.


  • Roxana Flammini, "Ancient Core-Periphery Interactions: Lower Nubia During Middle Kingdom Egypt (ca. 2050–1640 B.C.)", in Journal Of World Systems Research, Volume XIV, Number 1 (2008) PDF (discusses the Egyptian view of Nubia during the Middle and New Kingdoms)