Alara (785-760 BC)
Nubia
Nubians regarded Alara as the founder of their Napatan Dynasty, whom scholars suggest ruled some time between 785 and 760 B.C.E. He appears to have been a grand uncle of Taharqa, one of his successors, and owed his elevation to the crown to the fact that he had placed his trust in the god Amun, thereby establishing Amun's recurrent role in the subsequent history of Dynasty XXV and the Napatan Period as king maker. Alara is depicted on a stela, now in Copenhagen, on which he presents offerings to Amun. This stela, found at the Nubian site of Kawa, is an early example of the Nubian artistic appropriation of Egyptian norms and should be considered an initial step in the formulation of a typically Nubian iconographic repertoire rather than as a crude approximation of its more accomplished Egyptian model.

As ruler, Alara was obliged to embellish his realm with architectural activities and did embark on several architectural projects at Nubian sanctuaries including the construction of Temple B at Kawa, a mud-brick structure, and Temple B 888 at Gebel Barkal for Amun to whom he ostensibly owed his reign. Scholars have argued for the identifying Tomb Number 9 at el-Kurru as that of Alara. This tomb contained a bed burial and a pyramidal superstructure, surmounted by a cast bronze ba-bird, representing the deceased as a human-headed avian. Such a composite figure, representing the deceased, is often depicted in two dimensions in illustrated papyri and on vignettes on tomb walls during the course of Egypt's New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period, but its plastic expression appears to have been developed exclusively by the Nubians with a seemingly specific Nubian significance.

Because of his ancestral position within the posthumous history of the Nubians, Alara is often described as the Nubian Menes, the original unifier of the realm. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that he did in fact consolidate the kingdom from Meroe in the south to the vicinity of the third cataract.

By Egyptologist Robert Steven Bianchi, Ph.D.
Daily Life of the Nubians, Greenwood Press, Oct. 2004, p. 154

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