Ancient Nubia

Presented By Kevin Mackenzie

Who Were the Nubians

The Nubians were a civilization that were located south of Egypt. They were very dependent on the Nile River so they lived at its shores. When the Aswan Dam was built and the area was flooded, a lot of Nubian sites were destroyed. This makes it hard to lean a lot about the Nubians.


Ancient Nubian Towns

Nubia's first permanent communities rose up between 8000 B.C.E. - 4000 B.C.E.. Most of these have been found in deserts which did not make much sense, but there is a reason. The communities have founded when farming started, and the population grew.

The Migration of the Nile River

These towns were found in modern deserts and most people would think, "Wait, why would they do that?" The answer is fairly simple. The Nile over the years has shown to of traveled west. This means that over time, the Nile is getting more and more distant from these ruins. They originally found these sites when mapping the land to build a road.

Northern Nubian Landscape

In this region, the soil is extremely dry. Both sides of the Nile have the same wasteland of a desert. Little to no vegetation is what results from such little rainfall. Although rainfall is little, the rain that does fall is violent. These few rains can only grow tough grasses and shrub-like trees.

Southern Nubain Landscape

This region is similar to the Northern region, but there is a little more moisture, and more vegetation Here some acacia trees, and gum trees grow. But with even more violent rain than the north, the ground gets even more of a beating.

Nubia and the Nile River

The Nile Around Ancient Nubia

Nubians lived on a rough part of the Nile. It was not pleasant and peaceful like by Egypt. Here the Nile had raging rapids with tons of cataracts. A cataract is a long stretch of river with lots of rocks, causing rapids. Before the Aswan Dam was built, there were 30 of these harsh cataracts.

Nubia's Dependency on the Nile

Nubia, like Egypt, Depended on the Nile's floods. Their crops used the fertile silt that deposits in the soil. Since the Nile around Nubia did not flood very much land, they could not have as much food, so a lower population. They farmed their little land very heavily, to get as much out of it as they can. One thing that allowed year-round farming, in the invention of the shaduf and the saqia. The shaduf is a water lift that brings water up from the river, and the saqia is an oxen-powered waterwheel, to get get the water. The flood of the Nile symbolized the new year.

Early Rulars

Discovering Nubia's First Rulers

We discovered Nubia's first rulers, when we dug up graves and found that some people had valuable items buried with them. This gave a symbol of their social classes. When archaeologists dug up the graves, they realized that most of the rulers are male. Some of the items they buried were fine tools, and pottery.

"A-Group" People


The "A-Group" people were centered in Nubia between the first and second cataracts. They are the earliest culture found in this region. They with no form of writing. They were discovered around 1907 and were very distinct from Egypt at the time. This culture was not known to have good farmland or known natural resources. Some historians believe they got their wealth from tolls people would pay to travel the Nile River. These tolls would assure a safe passage across the Nile in Nubia's territory.


The Nubians had a strong belief in the afterlife. We can tell this from the way they buried their dead. Their dead were buried flexed, facing west. They dug small holes, so there was a mound at the burial point. Lastly, they burred their people with pottery, and items that were important to them.

Insense Burners

When the Aswan Dam was built, they needed to excavate the tombs they discovered before the rising floodwater destroyed the site. They believed these tombs to belonged to a 12th dynasty "A-Group". One of the remarkable things they found was an incense burner made of sandstone. There were scenes carved on these burners of kings that they though could of been Egypt, but discovered that it was actually "A-Group". The well-known Egyptian tall headpiece actually came from the "A-Group". The Egyptians adopted this cultural aspect from the "A-Group". One thing that convinced people that this was Egyptian was the large amount of Egyptian goods in the tombs, but these artifacts were dated years before Egyptian artifacts had the same ideas.

"A-Group Rulars"

The rulers of this civilization are very similar to early Egyptian's, but the Nubian's ideas came before the Egyptians did. The Egyptians got their idea of kingship from the Nubians. One of these aspects is the tall headpiece that shows ruler ship over the south. The Egyptians tried to take over Nubia possibly because they wanted to rule over more land, but it might of been the tolls they charged for the Nile's trade routes.

Egyption Take-Over

Egypt Clobbered the "A-Group"

Egypt wanted to take over the "A-Group" because of many reasons. One of these could be the price of goods, or competition for ruler-ship over the land. Egypt sent 5 military units to conquest Nubia. They got all the way down to lower Nubia, and tried to erase all traces of the "A-Group". Some evidence suggest that many Nubians adopted the Egyptian culture, or they were just banished from their territory. To keep this land, Egypt built reinforced structures at certain points to keep their rule.

Climate and Seasons


The climate in Nubia is hot and dry. The rains only come in the late summer and cause the Nile to flood. Also the further south you go, the more rain falls. The average rainfall is a mere five inches. The rain is violent, causing dust-storms and strong winds. It usually rains from June to September.



In the summer, the wind comes from the south or southwest It is extremely hot and the rain is brutal. This intense heat causes the people to work in the early morning, then rest in the shade of their settlements.


The autumn brings cool winds from the north. This wind is a relief to workers, bringing the relaxing cool air. Some may say that it "tames" the summer's heat and destruction.


The winter is a very desert-like season. There are comfortable temperatures during the day, and freezing ones at night. This is like a desert because a desert is scorching hot during the day, and quite cold at night. Nubia though, is rarely below freezing. This season is not quite as extreme as a desert, but it is still relative to the average temperature.


The Spring in Nubia is almost considered "average". The winds come from a consistent North to North-East direction, and the temperatures are normal. There is nothing particularly special about this season.

Upper and Lower Nubia

Upper Nubia

Upper Nubia is a not very well known civilization. The only information we have about it is a biography from a solder that caravaned goods into this region. According to this biography, they called it "Yam". They also used the Nubian's people as solders.

Lower Nubia

Lower Nubia was occupied by Egypt from 2800 B.C.E.-2400 B.C.E.. At that time, they were all the way back to the first cataract. This is the first out of 30. As more and more people came into Nubia, the Egyptians were pushed back. There were no systems of writing in Nubia, so the classification of the regions we know were determined by the Egyptians.