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Estimated extent of Alodia in the 10th century

Alodia was a medieval Nubian kingdom in what is now central and southern Sudan. Its capital was Soba, near modern-day Khartoum at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers. In 580 it became a part of the Christian world, following the other two Nubian kingdoms, Nobadia and Makuria. Alodia reached its peak during the 9th–12th centuries, when it exceeded its northern neighbor and close ally, Makuria, in size, military power and economic prosperity. A large, multicultural state, Alodia was ruled by a powerful king and provincial governors appointed by him. Soba was a prosperous town and trading hub, and literacy in Nubian and Greek flourished. Goods arrived from Makuria, the Middle East, western Africa, India and even China. Alodia began a slow decline in the 12th century, possibly because of invasions from the south, droughts and a shift of trade routes, before finally collapsing around 1500. (Full article...)

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A row of terraced houses on Bathwick Hill in the city of Bath. Like much of the city the houses are built using the local golden-coloured Bath stone, a type of limestone. Located in south-west England, Bath is notable for its baths fed by three hot springs. It was first recorded as a Roman spa and temple named Aquae Sulis, although archaeological evidence suggests that the main spring of the baths may have been treated as a shrine by the Britons before the Roman invasion. From Elizabethan to Georgian times it was a resort city for the wealthy. As a result of its popularity during the latter period, the city contains many fine examples of Georgian architecture, particularly the Royal Crescent.

Photograph: David Iliff

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