The area south of Kom Ombo to the Sisal Mountains in the south of the Nile Valley is known as Nubia. It is divided into two parts: Upper Nubia, part of Sudan now, and Lower Nubia, the most southern part of Egypt, and ends up in Wadi Halfa. In our modern time, attention was first given to this part of Egypt since the construction of the Aswan dam brought up concerns over the impact on the local area, including its rich historical treasures.
The etymology of the name Nubia is still being determined. Still, some researchers believe it is derived from the ancient Egyptian word Nbu, meaning gold, referring to the gold mines for which Nubia was famous. Ancient Egyptian texts do not refer to this name. Still, they referred to Nubia generally as Ta-seti, meaning the land of tbowBow, an apparent reference to the weapon favored by the Nubians.
Since the Old Kingdom, Nubia has been an important commercial route for African trade because it was rich in gold, fine stones, and timber. By the 6th dynasty, ancient Egyptians sent an expedition to Upper Nubia to trade and to recruit more Nubian people into the Egyptian army.
During the Middle Middle Kingdom, a military expedition was sent to control more significant areas of Nubia and prevent immigrants from coming to Egypt for reasons other than trade or army service. By the New Kingdom, especially in the 18th dynasty, more of these campaigns were sent to Nubia to secure Egypt's northern borders. King Thutmosis II took over the city of Dongola, which is located at the fourth cataract. He also added a new principality to the country.
At the end of the new kingdom, the province of Nubia was controlled directly by the priests of the Egyptian god Amon. They established a cult center in the city of Nabat for Amon Ra. By the seventh century AD, the capital of Kosh moved from the city of Nabata to the city of Morei, and the influence of the ancient Egyptian civilization gradually faded.
In Greco-Roman times, the area of Nubia flourished again, and many temples were built or rebuilt then. In Roman times, many emperors sent military campaigns to suppress the Bellamy tribes in Nubia, which raided the southern provinces of Egypt.
Christianity And Nubia
When Christianity became the prevailing religion in Egypt, Many Christian monasteries were built in Nubia, and many Nubian monuments were converted into churches, including the temples of Philae and the temples of Detour, Tafa, Beit EL Wali, Gerf Housian, and Wadi Es-Sebua. With the spread of Christianity through Nubia, pagan beliefs began to dwindle together with Morai culture. A new age was beginning in which Christianity played an important role. During the eighth and ninth Century A.D., Nubia enjoyed growth and prosperity in both the political and cultural spheres at a rate that had only been enjoyed briefly.
Since the Nubian church was affiliated with that of Egypt at that time, the Coptic patriarch at Alexandria was acknowledged as the head of many churches, monasteries, and cathedrals. These were often modeled on the basilica type common in the Byzantine Empire.
At Kasr Ibrim, the ruins of a church probably dating from the second half of the fifth century A.D. yielded some Coptic texts on fragments of papyrus and parchment dating fifth to tenth century A.D. Qasr Ibrim was the seat of the patriarch of Nubia.
Folk Heritage Of Nubia
Because of its long cultural history, Nubian folk heritage is rich, varied, and wonderfully original. It has distinctive features since it's the result of the mingled groups that make up the Nubian people: the Kenzi, who speak the Matouki language; the Fadija, who speak their language; and the tribe of Aliqat, who moved to Nubia from the Sinai in the 18th century. Nubian heritage includes many aspects, such as buildings, furniture, crafts, jewelry, and colorful costumes.
Housing Styles In Nubia
Traditional Nubian houses are built of stone, clay, and sand. The roofs are constructed commonly of Jared and grain stalks, and the roofs of the well-to-do are arched domes of clay bricks. Household utensils for everyday use hang from the ceiling. The walls of the house, especially the façade, are decorated with ornaments and paintings of flags, flowers, birds, and animals. Crockery is often used for wall decorations; a plate usually occupies the facade's center.
A Nubian House Is Usually Composed Of
- The entrance hall opens onto a court.
- Domed bedrooms.
- The store.
- The kitchen and the toilet.
Amulets, Charms, And Talismans
Nubians use amulets, charms, and talismans for good luck and protection from the evil eye. Some are painted on walls as scorpions, eyes, or triangles. Some are made of beads, shells, or hair and hang on the bedpost or from the ceiling. Baskets made of palm branches and decorated with white shells hang from the ceiling and serve the same function.
Nubian folk dancing is practiced in groups by women and men of all ages. Several folk dances are performed in seasons of sowing and harvest, in prayer for prosperity and more crops.
Marriage And Birth In Nubia
In Nubia, marriage is usually the responsibility of the parents and uncles, who share the responsibility because kinship in Nubia is patriarchal and matriarchal. The most common marriage is between cousins, and sometimes it is obligatory. In that case, the dowry is much lower than what an outsider would have to pay. The amount varies in different tribes. Presents and monetary gifts are given to both families to help with expenses, which are usually very high for a wedding.
Since the Nile plays a vital role in Nubian culture, the couple has to go down to the river on their wedding night and wash in the water to ensure prosperity, good health, and numerous progeny. When a male child is born, the birth is celebrated on the seventh day with the slaughter of a sheep or more animals. A recital of the Qur'an takes place, and the boy is given a name. But when the child is a female, they only invite close friends and go to the Nile bank, where the baby is named.
Nubian Art And Its Symbols
Nubian art reflects the Nubian culture, and many of its symbols and motives are significant experiences of folk traditions and tribal customs. This can be seen in tattoos and wall paintings that decorate many Nubian houses' façade and entrance halls. These symbols recur in the designs of bead works and many kinds of baskets and other crafts and symbols, including:
- Sword in the Nubian culture stands for courage and heroic achievements.
- Stars and crescents are Islamic symbols of good fortune.
- The black cat, crows, and owls carry bad omens
- Roses and flowers, in general, stand for friendship and love
- The apple stands for feminine attraction
- Prayer rug stands for purity and innocence
Saving Nubian Monument
When the high dam at Aswan was built, the rising water of Lake Nasser threatened to flood many Nubian monuments. Therefore, a worldwide campaign was launched to save all Nubian monuments. Thanks to the collaboration of many different nations under the supervision of UNESCO, many were safely rescued and taken to storage or for display elsewhere in museums.