Nubian A-Group

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This article is about the third millennium BC Nubian culture. For the type of mathematical group, see A-group.

A-Group is the designation for a distinct culture that arose between the First and Second Cataracts of the Nile in Nubia from c. 3800 BC until c. 2800 BC, time of the Egyptian 2nd dynasty. The A-Group settled on very poor land with scarce natural resources, yet they became the first Nubians to develop agriculture. This culture was one of the two important "kingdoms" in Lower Nubia. Artefacts from this culture were first discovered in 1907 by Egyptologist George A. Reisner.

Vessels of Nubian A-Group, Musée du Louvre.

A-Group royal tombs were found to be two centuries older than those of the Egyptians. However, further research has demonstrated that this is no longer the case: "The earliest known examples of Egyptian royal iconography, such as, e.g., the representation of the Red Crown on a late Naqada I (c. 3500 BC) pottery vessel from Abydos or the triumphal scenes in the painting from Hierakonpolis Tomb 100 (c. 3400-3300 BC) are much older than the Qustul censer. It seems thus that it was the Qustul rulers who adopted symbols of royal authority developed in Egypt and not vice versa."[1]

The A-Group had strong beliefs in the afterlife. A great deal of time was put into their cemeteries and funerals. The dead were placed in burial mounds with their bodies facing the West. Grave goods such as jewellery, pottery, stone bowls, linen cloth, copper tools, and cosmetic palettes were found on or near bodies.

Decorated bowl of the Nubian A-Group, Musée du Louvre.


  1. ^ Török, László. Between Two Worlds : The Frontier Region Between Ancient Nubia and Egypt, 3700 BC-AD 500. In Probleme Der Ägyptologie. Leiden: Brill. 2009. ISBN 9789004171978

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