New Archaeological Findings May Re-shape Sudanese History

February 5, 2004
Hunting for the Elusive Nubian A-Group People
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Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - Historians may have to revise their previous beliefs about the history of the Nile River valley and human history following the recent discovery of seven statues in Karma, northern Sudan, south of the Third Cataract, which represented monarchs during the ancient Nubian Kingdom.

In a recent report, Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) reported that a group of archaeologists working in the Sudan discovered the statues.

These researchers established that five of them, namely Taharqa, Tanoutamon, Senkamanisken, Anlamani and Aspelta, date back to the era of Nubian Kings.

"The statues are sculptural masterpieces and important additions to our knowledge of the history of the region" the national news agency quoted Charles Bonnet, an archaeologist with the University of Geneva, Switzerland, as saying.

Another archaeologist in the team, Tim Kendall, said the discovery could raise public awareness about the important and advancement of Nubian civilisation during the said period.

"The general public is familiar with Egypt and pharaohs, but, it is not so aware that there was a highly important, sophisticated, and independent ancient civilisation in Nubia, which is now Northern Sudan," said Kendall, a Sudanese archaeologist and visiting research scientist at the US North-eastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Taharqa and Tanoutamon had ruled Egypt as well as Nubian Kingdom. Sometimes referred to as the "Black Pharaohs", the Nubian Kings ruled Egypt from roughly 760 B.C to 660 Before Christ.

Ancient Egyptians gave the name "Kush" to the Nubian land or the Nubian Kingdom, which extended from what is today southern Egypt to northern Sudan.

The area had a long and tangled history with ancient Egypt, a history that seesawed between periods of war and occupation, and periods of peace and prosperity.

Archaeologists have found material evidence of several early cultures in Nubian beginning about 3500 B.C.

According to scholars, the presence of products from central African found in Egypt suggests that these early Kingdoms traded with one another and that the Nubians served as the link along the Nile between central Africa and Egypt.

"When the Egyptians originally started exploring Nubia, which at that point consisted of many different tribes, the people of Northern Sudan were very friendly with Egyptians; and the rulers had good relations with the Egyptian pharaoh," said professor Kendall.

But, he added, that did not last. "The Egyptians, feeling threatened invaded and conquered Kush".

Between about 1500 B.C and 1100 B.C, Kush was a part of Egypt, said William Y. Adams, an archaeologist from the University of Kentucky, who has spent many years excavating in Sudan. This gave the Egyptian a chance to control the Kush trade, and especially to control its important gold mines, which made Egypt the richest nation on earth between 1500 and
1100 B.C.

"What is interesting is that in military endeavours in other countries, the Egyptians let the conquered peoples maintain their own traditions and modes of worship," Kendall remarked.

"With Kush, there was much more give and take, and the Egyptians tried to combine Nubian religious beliefs with their own. They seem to have combined their own state God, Amun, with the Nubian God and promoted the idea that these two Gods were same. This allowed the pharaohs, who claimed to be the sons of Amun, to be the legitimate rulers of Nubians also," according to Kendall.

When the Egyptians withdrew from Nubia around 1100 B.C. for unknown reasons, a group of powerful local rulers assumed power in the kingdom. These new kings also claimed to be the sons of Amun, and therefore the legitimate king of Egypt.

A US historian Herman Bell had a different view on the religion issue in the Nubian Egypt.

The London - based Ashargalawsat (Middle East) recently quoted Bell as saying he strongly believed the ancient Egyptian ruler Akhenaton had adopted the idea of one God (monotheism) upon contact with Nubians and Nubian culture.

Bell, who recently visited the Selaim village north of Dongola, some 600km north of Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, argued that king Akhenaton who called for monotheism in 1350 B.C had followed the Nubians in this belief.

Bell suggested that the Nile Valley civilisation had started in the Nubia and then moved northwards.

In a related study, an American researcher Christine Henry recently highlighted the advancement of the Nubian civilisation as compared with other world civilisations at the time. She backed-up her claim by pointing to recent findings that showed the Nubians had developed a complete irrigation system in Kerma region, some 550 km north Khartoum, where they carefully organised cultivation beds and grows crops.

It has already established that Nubia was the birthplace of iron industry.

Khartoum - 02/05/2004

Copyright © May 2004 Panafrican News Agency. All Rights Reserved.
2005 Update:  KERMA – BLACK AFRICA'S OLDEST CIVILISATION
In 2003, a Swiss archaeological team working in northern Sudan uncovered one of the most remarkable Egyptological finds in recent years. At the site known as Kerma, near the third cataract of the Nile, archaeologist Charles Bonnet and his team discovered a ditch within a temple from the ancient city of Pnoubs, which contained seven monumental black granite statues. Magnificently sculpted, and in an excellent state of preservation, they portrayed five pharaonic rulers, including Taharqa and Tanoutamon, the last two pharaohs of the 'Nubian' Dynasty, when Egypt was ruled by kings from the lands of modern-day Sudan.