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An Empire on the Nile

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posted on May, 16 2010 @ 11:39 AM
An Empire on the Nile
May 2010

A spring exhibition at the Louvre in Paris is throwing unexpected light on the ancient history of Sudan

'Flourishing between the third century BCE and the fourth century CE and thus coexisting with Ptolemaic and then Roman rule in Egypt, the city of Meroe once formed the capital of an empire that stretched northwards to the borders of ancient Egypt and southwards to what is today central and southern Sudan.'

Housed in the temporary exhibition space in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre, Méroé, un empire sur le Nil is a smallish exhibition that might seem almost overawed by its magnificent surroundings. However, appearances are deceptive, and it would be a pity if visitors to Paris were to overlook this exhibition on their itinerary through the Louvre. This is an exhibition that casts real and unexpected light on the ancient history of Sudan. If one had a criticism to make of it, it would only be that it is not larger.

Flourishing between the third century BCE and the fourth century CE and thus coexisting with Ptolemaic and then Roman rule in Egypt, the city of Meroe, the ruins of which are located on the east bank of the Nile a few miles north of Kabushiyah in present-day Sudan, once formed the capital of an empire that stretched northwards to the borders of ancient Egypt and southwards to take in much of what is today central and southern Sudan.

Famous in antiquity for its war-like queens, four of whom are known to have reigned between the first century BCE and the first century CE, Meroe was the successor state of the ancient Ku#e kingdom, whose so-called Black Pharoahs once ruled both Egypt and Sudan in the 7th century BCE. Driven back to their capital at Napata in Sudan as a result of the Assyrian invasion of Egypt in 671 BCE, the Ku#es later moved their capital to Meroe, which became the site of a civilisation marked by ancient Egyptian, Hellenistic and Mediterranean influences, as well as by those native to Sudan.

I am pleased that there is more focus on other sites, they may be just as important as Giza or more so. The Sudan is rich in Pyramids and forgotten settlements. If any of our Paris friends here on ATS get the opportunity to see this exhibit please give us your thoughts what you saw.

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 12:01 PM
Histoy of Sudan
By the eighth millennium BC, people of a Neolithic culture had settled into a sedentary way of life there in fortified mud-brick villages, where they supplemented hunting and fishing on the Nile with grain gathering and cattle herding. Anthropological and archaeological research indicate that during the predynastic period Nubia and Nagadan Upper Egypt were ethnically, and culturally nearly identical, and thus, simultaneously evolved systems of pharaonic kingship by 3300 BC. [1] But during the close of the Nagada III period, Nagada, in its bid to conquer and unify the whole nile valley, seems to have conquered their southern neighbors and "Egyptianized" them. [2]. The result appears to have been the depopulation of the entire Lower Nubian area, either by the genocidal efforts of the First Dynasty Egyptian kings, or by the migration (forced or voluntary) of the nubians to areas north and south.

The early relationship between Egypt and Cush
Northern Sudan's earliest historical record comes from Egyptian sources, which described the land upstream from the first cataract, called Cush, as "wretched." For more than 2,000 years after the Old Kingdom (ca. 2700-2180 B.C.), Egyptian political and economic activities determined the course of the central Nile region's history. Even during intermediate periods when Egyptian political power in Cush waned, Egypt exerted a profound cultural and religious influence on the Cu#e people.

A little background on the Sudan.

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 12:42 PM
What is interesting was at this time the Roman's ruled Egypt and the Sudan, was that by design early on, check out this thread for extensive infomation on Rome.
All Roads Lead To Rome

[edit on 16-5-2010 by Aquarius1]

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 12:56 PM
reply to post by Aquarius1
Nice looking thread...beautiful images. The kingdom of Kush was overrun by Egypt as they sought to take advantage of the resources there and seized political power. Around 700BC Sudan/Kush returned the favour and took Egypt, reigning as Pharaohs and maintaining many of the traditions we identify as Egyptian. They couldn't keep hold for long and got served by the Assyrians.

It's good you've posted the thread as it shows how Egypt wasn't a self-contained 'snow globe.' It was once a powerful nation surrounded by powerful neighbours who were also waiting for the opportunity to take advantage of weakness. Pretty much as full of conflict as it is today.

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 01:04 PM
It’s a truly informative and beautifully illustrated piece of work on our ancient past, big star and flag Aquarius1.

The politics and religion of these Kingdoms is as complex and diverse as their architecture and truly fascinating.

Thanks for taking the time to put this together for all of us here on ATS to enjoy!

[edit on 16/5/10 by ProtoplasmicTraveler]

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 01:06 PM
reply to post by Kandinsky

Thank you Kandinsky, yes they were a powerhouse at one time, but it seems the Holy Roman Empire couldn't have that, conquer and destroy was the name of the game in those days.

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 01:22 PM

Once the ancient kingdom of Kush, Nubia is the stretch of land next to the Nile from Aswan down to Khartoum in the south. Nubians are depicted in many tomb paintings and reliefs- usually as mercenaries or traders. Nubians still have distinct traditions, architecture and languages, even though many migrated either to Aswan and Kom Ombo or south to Sudan after Lake Nasser swamped much of their traditional homeland. Nubia contains dozens of sites of archaeological interest. 24 temples, as well as fortresses and tombs, were menaced by the waters of the High Dam, including Dendour, Ellessiya, Amada and Wadi al- Sebowa. Some have been moved, most notably Philae, Kalabsha and Abu Simbel, and other salvage and restoration operations are in train ; The Nubian Museum is being built near Aswan to house rescued artefacts.

From Late Antiquity and into the early Middle Ages, Upper and Lower Nubia formed three independent kingdoms, Nubadia (called Nubia in Arabic) between the First and Third Cataracts, Makuria between the Third and Fifth Cataracts, and Alodia (called Alwa in Arabic) above the Fifth Cataract. These kingdoms converted to Christianity around the sixth century AD, long after Egypt had become Christian. However, they maintained that faith centuries after Egypt had succumbed to the forces of Islam. These three nations were not always on peaceful terms with each other. However, it was probably as early as the seventh century AD that Nubadia and Makuria united to form a single federated kingdom which was to last some six hundred years under the King of Makuria. Despite the union, each of the two kingdoms always kept their separate identities. This united kingdom was weakened in the late thirteenth century by a series of attacks on Nubia by Mamelukes from Egypt, who ultimately claimed--apparently in name only-- suzerainty over Lower Nubia. In the fourteenth century, Makuria was overrun by nomadic Arab invaders from the southeast who established a short-lived Muslim kingdom there. This state ultimately degenerated into a series of warring principalities without any royal authority and the population reduced to the level of bedouin. Nubadia and its client- state, the Kingdom of Dotawo survived for more than a century thereafter, until disappearing in the unrecorded dwindling of cultural identity. In AD 1550 the Ottoman Turks annexed a disunited Lower Nubia to their great Near Eastern empire. Nubian independence, national identity, and Christianity disappeared without leaving any record.

Hopefully one day records will be found so we can actually know what really happened.

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 01:44 PM

Goddesses, Queens, and Commoners
Upon close examination of the history and culture of Nubia, it becomes apparent that women played an important role. Unlike the rest of the world at the time, women in Nubia exercised significant control. In the Nubian valley, worship of the queen of all goddesses, Isis, was paramount. >From the capital of Meroe, warrior queens fought for the interests of the Nubian/Ku#e empire. Throughout history, women were portrayed in Nubian art as the bearers of the offspring of the gods. Today, Nubian women have a much different experience. Nevertheless, Nubian women fulfill a demanding and unique series of roles.

Throughout Egypt and Nubia, the cult of Isis had a tremendous and devoted following. Isis was not only the Egyptian goddess of magical powers; she was the representation of the queen mother. In the most famous fable of the period, Isis roams the world in search of the corpse of her husband Osiris. She returns Osiris to his rightful resting place, only to have Osiris' evil brother Set cut him to pieces and scatter him throughout the land. Isis then takes her son Horus and sets out to find every piece of the corpse so she may tenderly bury it in the hopes that she can resurrect him again. She is successful, and Osiris becomes the god of the underworld.

Although Isis, Osiris, and Horus are then established as a trinity, Isis immediately became the most popular of the three (19). This can be partially attributed to her role as the devoted, untiring, nurturer of the land and culture of Egypt and Nubia.

Nubian Queen

Women ruled in those days and were just as warlike as men, not sure if that was good or bad, they may not have had a choice if they wanted to save their kingdoms.

[edit on 16-5-2010 by Aquarius1]

posted on May, 22 2010 @ 04:41 PM

Originally posted by Kandinsky
reply to post by Aquarius1
Nice looking thread...beautiful images.

I have to agree mate, those shots of the Pyramids are spectacular.

I was searching ATS to see if anyone had covered Meroe, and yes they have, great thread, S+F Aquarius!!

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 11:42 AM
Thanks for researching and bringing up those lovely photos of their steep-sided pyramids. I hadn't seen many photos that show the surrounding areas.

I'll have to look up more about this (after I go finish my homework, which I'm rather neglecting right now.)

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 11:49 AM
reply to post by Byrd

Thank you for posting Byrd, they are amazing photos, I cannot imagine living in the Desert, but there is something so beautiful and haunting about that area of the World, today there are still many Desert dwellers, maybe they know something we don't.
Good luck with your homework, I remember those days.

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 12:19 PM
reply to post by Aquarius1
Hiya Aquarius. There's a site you might enjoy...The Faces of Egypt. Each image links to a larger jpg. It's easy to lose time reading about the people in the pictures.

A small section is devoted to the Nubians and led me to this ferocious (and samurai!) looking legend...Mentuemhat, Governor of Thebes 25th Dynasty.

James Brown and Mohammed Ali wish they had an introduction like this...

The greatest official of the 25th Dynasty is Mentuemhat. He was governor of Thebes, 4th prophet of Amen, hereditary chief, royal sealer, chiefly companion, scribe of the temple of Amen, interpreter of the prophets in the temples, as shown by the cones from his tomb; also ruler of all the royal domains, great chief of the land to its limits, eyes of the king in all the land, as stated in his tomb. His statues also give the titles, prince of the deserts, and keeper of the gate of the deserts.

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 12:30 PM
reply to post by Kandinsky

I will check it out Kandinsky, thank you for posting, this is all so interesting, will get back to you.

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