Funj people

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The Funj are an ethnic group in present-day Sudan. The Funj set up the Funj Sultanate with Abdallah Jamma and ruled the area for several centuries. The Funj rose in southern Nubia and had overthrown the remnants of the old Christian kingdom of Alodia. In 1504 a Funj leader named Amara Dunqas, founded the Black Sultanate at Sannar (the capital). The Black Sultanate soon became the keystone of the Funj Empire.

The origins of the Funj are not clearly known. However, there are three different hypotheses regarding their origin. One source claims Funj are descendants of Banu Umayya, who escaped the slaughter of the Abbasids by fleeing into Abyssinia and moving inward into the Nubian territory who had been known in Arabia since ancient times to protect guests and refugees. The second hypothesis comes from James Bruce, who theorized in his book Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile that the Funj descend from the Shilluk people. Bruce wrote his book after 22 years of travel through North Africa and Ethiopia. The third hypothesis is that they are descendants of the remnants of the Kingdom of Alodia Nubians who escaped further south to replenish their supplies and resources and returned to establish their state. The most cited source is that they are Nubians who mixed with Arabs.



  • Spaulding, Jay (1972). "The Funj: A Reconsideration". The Journal of African History. Cambridge University. 13, No. 1: 39–53.

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