Nubians in Ancient Egypt
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Bronze of King Shabaka as Osiris

This bronze statuette portrays King Shabaka of Dynasty 25, as Osiris. We see a king  with massive wrists and hands, a thick neck, high cheek bones, small ears, flattened nose and full lips--all fitting the body type of the Kushite (today's Sudanese) kings of Dynasty 25. On close inspection, one can also see evidence that a second uraeus (cobra), a unique attribute of kings of that dynasty.

The exquisite quality of craftsmanship is evident in the precision of the stone inlay work for the eyes and of the gold inlay work in Osiris's beard. This is illustrative of the care lavished by Kushite pharaohs on the arts, as part of their drive to bring about a renaissance of the past grandeur of Egypt. They viewed their political, religious, and military intervention from Elephantine to the heart of Egypt as an act of salvation of a civilization on the verge of collapse.

Period:  Egypt, 3rd Intermediate Period, Dynasty 25 and Contemporaries
Dating:  747- 656 BC
Origin:  Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes
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Click on photo to enlarge
Queen Aqaluqa as Isis Nursing

This bronze statuette of a queen, with the Solar-Hathor crown, as goddess Isis nursing, presumably depicts Queen Aqaluqa.

From the general style, we know that this statuette is from the 25th Dynasty. The queen is not clearly identifiable beyond appearing of Nubian descent. The child, however, exhibits very distinctive features which are specific of the iconography of King Taharqa of Dynasty 25 as an adult. It should be no surprise that the child resembles the king as an adult in such statuettes, as they were of necessity commissioned long after the child had grown up. If the child shown here is indeed Taharqa, then the mother is Queen Aqaluqa, wife of King Piankhi. Her cartouche is known from the Temple of Taharqa at Gebel Barqal, where she is shown behind her son.
Shawabti figures of King Taharqa
Sudan (Nuri), Dynasty 25, reign of Taharka, 690-664 B.C.
Granite, alabaster, and other stones

Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition shawabti
About 740 B.C. the Nubian king Piye invaded Egypt and established his family as Egypt's 25th Dynasty. Many Egyptian practices were adopted in Nubia during this period, including the construction of pyramids for royal tombs that contained shawabti figures intended to perform manual labor for the deceased in the afterlife. The shawabtis illustrated here are some of more than one thousand that were discovered standing in neat rows in the burial chamber of King Taharqa's pyramid tomb at Nuri. Taharqa, a son and third successor of King Piye, was the greatest of the Nubian pharaohs. His empire stretched from Palestine to the confluence of the Blue and White Niles. It was conquered by the Assyrians in 667 B.C., at which time Nubia lost control of Egypt.
Lady Tuty


New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amunhotep III
(circa 1390-1352 B.C.)


From Medinet Gurob

Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Lady Mi


New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amunhotep III
(circa 1390-1352 B.C.)


From Medinet Gurob.

Charles Edwin Wilbur Fund
Book of the Dead of Maiherperi

1427-1392 BC, 18th Dynasty

The Judgment of the Dead

The "Declaration of Innocence" had to be said by the deceased in the "Hall of Justice" descending to the broad "Hall of Two Truths", purging all the forbidden things he/she has done in order to be purified, and be allowed Rebirth.

There were forty-two Confessions with forty-two judges. One must pass these confessions after practicing holiness to achieve an acceptable death of immortality. These "Confessions" is one of the most distinctive, innovative and best known features of the Book of the Dead. These forty-two declarations were found on papyrus in the tomb of the Nubian Maiherperi of the 18th Dynasty.

Valley of the Kings
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Mentuemhat, Governor of Thebes

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. His parents were the governor of Thebes, Nesiptah, and Asenkhebt. It is conceded by scholars that Mentuemhet had Nubian blood. He married Wedjarenes, grand-daughter of Piye. Mentuemhat played a significant role in the reign of Taharqo, witnessing the Assyrian sack of Thebes and the transition to Saite rule.
Oromo in Ancient Egypt 12th Dynasty
"The Oromo Penetration. It has long ago been remarked that the black sphinxes, later appropriated by the Hyksos, approximated to the Oromo type of Abyssinia".

"This starts an enquiry how the Oromo connection could thus appear on monuments. In the clearance and planning of the rock tombs at Qau, Antaeopolis, the peculiar plan of those tombs, with great halls and small chambers annexed, was observed to be closely parallel to that of later Nubian temples. In both tomb and temple the chief work is in the solid rock, while the forecourt is of masonry constructed in front of it. Another peculiarity was the hammer-work excavation of one tomb, which had evidently been done with stone balls, as in the Aswan granite working, and this implies a southern connection". (Petrie, The Making of Egypt,  1939)

Oromo website
Model of a Boat

Tomb of the chancellor. Nakhti at Assiout

(12th Dynasty)




Housed at the Louvre Museum
Ancient Nubia—a region encompassing modern-day southern Egypt and northern Sudan—provided a major trade route over which gold, ivory, ebony, incense, and spices traveled between central Africa and the lands around the Mediterranean. Nubia's history was closely intertwined with that of its neighbor, Egypt: social, political, religious, and artistic ideas moved back and forth as each country conquered or was conquered by the other.

The ancient Egyptians called Nubia Ta-Sety (“Land of the Bow”), and Egyptian kings often hired the renowned archers of Nubia for their armies. Many of these mercenary soldiers settled in Egypt, married Egyptian women, and were buried in the Egyptian manner, but they still proudly maintained their Nubian identity. This limestone grave marker from Jebelein in Upper Egypt depicts a Nubian soldier named Nenu holding his bow and arrows; beside him is his wife, wearing the close-fitting linen dress typical of Egyptian women. Nenu has a short, curly, Nubian hairstyle and close-cropped beard and wears a kilt tied with a characteristically Nubian leather sash. In the upper right, an Egyptian servant presents a bowl of beer. Dogs are often included on the stelae of Nubian soldiers, suggesting the great affection they had for these pets.
Stela of the Nubian soldier Nenu Egypt (Jeblein),
First Intermediate Period, 2250-2035 B.C.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Nubian with oryx, monkey, and leopard skins

8th-7th century B.C.; Neo-Assyrian period; Phoenician style

Excavated at Fort Shalmaneser, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu),
Mesopotamia Ivory; Height 5.3 inches

Excavated at Fort Shalmaneser, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu)



The Metropolitan Museum of Art  
Nubian Art Pieces
http://www.rom.on.ca/explore/

Images from the 2003 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue CD
Furniture leg in the form of a nude woman
Third Intermediate Period, 25th Dynasty, 715-656 BC

Ebony comes from African countries south of Egypt. We therefore assume that an Egyptian cabinetmaker chose this imported wood for its rarity. The ebony and generous female forms suggest another possibility: this piece of furniture was instead made in Napata, in other words, in the Nubian kingdom, sometime in the 8th or 7th century BC.

At this time, art from the Napata kingdom used many Egyptian motifs. They were adapted to local usage and, during the 25th Dynasty, Egyptian art was in turn influenced by its southern neighbor. The particularly round face and the very short, rounded hair style indicates that this is probably a Nubian woman. The shape of her face, and the fact that the work is made of ebony, suggests that this piece of furniture was produced in the Napata region.


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