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.

History[edit]

Lower Nubia lies mainly between the first and second cataracts with some historical overlappings.

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.

Language[edit]

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]

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

"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:

"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:

"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]

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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[permanent dead link] (discusses the Egyptian view of Nubia during the Middle and New Kingdoms)

References[edit]

  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