Nubia / The Kingdom of Kush

Ancient Kingdom of Kush (Nubia)
(Up the river a ways from ancient Egypt)
Nubia / The Kingdom of Kush
The first civilization to appear in northern Africa was that of the Nubians. The Nubians lived in villages along the Nile River
just south of Egypt around 3000 B.C. The fertile soils and endless fresh water from the Nile made Nubia the perfect location
to build a city. The city they built was one of the most sophisticated of the time. Nubian kings, noblemen, and merchants
grew wealthy through trade with Egypt and other peoples. Elaborate Nubian tombs have been found, showing that the kings
of the time were as wealthy as the Egyptian kings of the same era.The Kingdom of Kush
After a thousand years Nubia gradually evolved, becoming larger and more powerful. By 2000 B.C., Nubia was known as the
Kingdom of Kush. The people of this kingdom traded ivory and other treasures from southern Africa with the peoples who
lived further north.
Nubia (Land of Gold): The Kingdom of Kush (also called Nubia - the Land of Gold) was
located on the Nile River, to the south of ancient Egypt.
Nubia was also known as the Land of the Bow because their archers were expert and fierce. The army of
archers kept the Nubian people safe. It was important for them to be strong. Many kingdoms wanted to
control Nubia. Nubia was a land of natural wealth. They had gold mines, ivory, incense, and iron ore.
Unlike Egypt, they were not dependent upon the flooding of the Nile for good soil. They enjoyed
tropical rainfall all year long.
Daily Life of the Common People: The common people lived in farming villages. Each
village had a leader, but their role was suggestive rather than controlling. Each village worked together
as a unit for the common good of the village. There was a division of labor. For the common people in
ancient Kush, daily life was village life.
There was a place inside each village where the villagers would collect. And, there was a place where
many villages collected. When there was a festival, the people in individual villages knew where the
festival would be held if they were invited - it would be held at the place where many villages collected.
Daily Life of the Nobles: For many hundred of years, the nobles of ancient Kush thought of
themselves as Egyptians. They dressed like Egyptians. Their homes were similar. The kings and nobles
lived in riverside palaces. There were sailboats on the Nile. Their daily life was very much like the
people they envied - the ancient Egyptians. As in ancient Egypt, many of their leaders were great
Queens, not Kings.
When the capital of the Kushite kingdom was moved further south along the Nile, they began to act less
like Egyptians and more like other civilizations in South Sahara Africa. Their jewelry changed. They
began wearing anklets and ear studs.
Religion: In the beginning, they worshiped the same gods as did the ancient Egyptians, with a few
extra throw in like the three-headed Lion God. They mummified their dead. They build pyramids. Kush
pyramids looked a little differently - they had flat tops, but they served the same purpose; they were
tombs. The people of Kush loved stories from the Bible. Many became Christians because of the Bible
stories they heard from passing traders.
Kush - the Iron Capital of the Ancient African World: Although they were two
different kingdoms, Egypt and Kush were linked by the Nile River, by a shared past, and by the
economics of the day. Kush had something other kingdoms wanted. They had iron. This time in history
was known as the Iron Age. From about 1000 BCE to about 1000 CE, iron was critically important. Iron
was used to make tools and weapons. Kush was the iron center of ancient Africa. Kush was also one of
the major gold producers in the ancient world.
Trade: Trade was very important to Kush. They established flourishing ports on the Red Sea. They
tried to work out trade agreements with Egypt that would allow them free access to the Mediterranean
via the Nile River. Egyptians depended on Kush for iron, gold, and for exotic goods like incense and
ebony. Kush wanted Egyptian manufactured goods, especially their cotton, an export for which Egypt is
still famous today.
Supply and Demand: As the demand for iron grew, Kush ran into a problem. To make iron, they
needed to wood to burn. They had used up much of their wood. Their resources were dwindling. Kush
could not produce as much iron as they had in the past, yet demand for iron was growing. Traders began
to look elsewhere for iron. As trade dwindled, the country began to weaken.
Kush looked around for new avenues of trade. They had incense. They had ivory. Certainly someone
would want these wonderful products. The leaders of Kush began to turn their eyes towards the vast
Sahara Desert. What it possible? Could they develop a trade route to the far away kings of which they
had great things?
Camels (Ships of the Desert): Around 750 CE, everything changed when Islamic traders
began to use camels to transports goods across the desert. The use of camels made it possible to get from
Kush to West Africa, to literally get from here to there.
The Trans-Sahara Trade Route: The day the first caravan of camels headed west into
the Sahara Desert was the day that marked the opening of the Trans-Sahara Trade Route.
Quick Look
The Kingdom of Kush/Nubia: 3800 BCE to 1400 CE
The Nile River was home to two major civilization - Egypt and Kush.
Is it Kush or Nubia? Kush conquered Nubia. Kush was conquered in turn. We call the region
Kush/Nubia, but the ancestors of these people think of themselves as Nubian.
Natural resource: Nile River, Gold Mines
Industries: Farming, mining, trading, defense (army)
Agricultural crops: Yams (sweet potatoes), beans, rice, onions, sorghum, millet, papaya,
gourds, cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, cotton, and peanuts.
Economic specialization: Traders, miners, farmers, blacksmiths, soldiers
Religion: The same gods and goddesses as ancient Egypt with a few extra thrown in like the
3-headed Lion God.
Clothing: In the beginning, the same as Egypt - white, loose, cool cotton clothes. As time
went on, the Nubians began dressing more like the people south of the Sahara, dressing in
colorful cotton clothing, wearing nose plugs instead of collars and bracelets.
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