Head of a Colossus, Wadi es Sebui, Nubia

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Although it was the African Sudan–the “Ethiopia” (Land of the Blacks) of ancient times–that gave birth to the oldest civilization, it is in Kmt (Ancient Egypt), a child of Ethiopia and greatest nation of antiquity, that the bulk of historical research has been done. For the moment, at least, Kmt continues to be the focal point of our African centered researches, and will probably be the object of much of our studies for some time to come. Not only were Ancient Egypt’s origins African, but through the entire Dy­nastic Age and during all the periods of real splendor from the initial unifica­tion of Upper and Lower Egypt in the fourth millennia B.C.E. men and women with black skin complexions and wooly hair reigned virtually supreme.

In the intense and unrelenting struggle to establish and prove scientifically the African founda­tions of ancient Egyptian civilization, the late Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop remains a most fierce and ardent champion. Diop, 1923-1986, was among the world’s leading Egyptologists, and held the position of Director of the Radi­ocarbon Laboratory of the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa in Dakar, Senegal. The range of methodologies employed by Dr. Diop in the course of his extensive labors inc1ude: examinations of the epidermis of Egyptian royal mummies recovered during the Auguste Ferdinand Mariette Expedition for verification of melanin content precise osteological measure­ments and meticulous studies in the relevant areas of anatomy and physical anthropology careful examinations and comparisons of modern Upper Egyptian and West African blood-groups detailed linguistic studies analysis of the ethnic designations employed by the Kamites them­selves corroborations of distinct African cultural traits documenta­tions of Biblical testimonies and references regarding ethnicity, race and culture and the writings of early Greek and Roman scholars for descriptions of the physical appearances of the ancient Egyptian people.

Diop firmly believed that “The highest point of Egyptian history was the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ramses II.”

Ramses reigned from 1279 to 1213 BCE, more than 3200 years ago. His reign was a time of power and prosperity for the people of Africa’s Nile Valley. The sixty-seven year reign of Ramses the Great was for Kmt an era of general prosperity, stable government and extensive building projects. An­cient deities like Ptah, Re and Set were elevated to high status. The adoration of Amen was restored and his priests reinstated. Major wars were fought with the Libyans, Hittites and their allies. Wondrous temples from Nubia to the Egyp­tian Delta were carved out of the naked cliffs. Splendid tombs in the hills of western Waset and Abydos were constructed, renovated and beautified. The new Egyptian city of Pi-Ramses made its impressive debut.

Ramses was deified in his own lifetime, and through the unrelenting projec­tion of his own incomparable personality made the name Ramses, the Son of Amen-Re, synonymous with kingship for centuries. Ramses II was truly great. He was the towering figure of his age and established the models and set the standards that others used to rule by.

In regards to the ethnicity of the great Ramses, Cheikh Anta Diop unhesitatingly threw down the gauntlet, and spoke of him in a language of unmistakable firmness and certitude:

“Ramses II was not leucoderm and could have been even less red-haired, because he reigned over a people who instantly massacred red-haired people as soon as they met them, even in the street these people were considered as strange beings, unhealthy, bearers of bad luck and unfit for life….Ramses II is black. Let’s let him sleep in his black skin, for eternity.”

Sadly, the mummy of Ramses II has been more than disturbed. In Dynasty XXI the mummies of Ramses II and Set I, along with other royal mummies, were removed from their tombs and reburied in the cliffs at Deir el-Bahari. There the mummies were discovered by the Department of Antiquities in 1881 and removed to Cairo.

Nor, as Diop wished, was the great king allowed to “sleep in his black skin.” He was subjected to many recent observations and experiments. Speaking of the latter, Ivan Van Sertima makes a number of enormously fascinating obser­vations:

“One of the things that struck me most about Diop as a person was his absolute honesty. He was never afraid to criticize something African or black once it merited criticism. I have never found him out in any equiv­ocation or exaggeration. He told me twice, both in London and in At­lanta, that there was no question whatsoever of the blackness or African­ness of Ramses II. He told me that he had actually seen the mummy, and that the skin of the mummy was as black as his skin. He said, however, that after it was subjected to gamma rays the skin looked grayish. It had lost its original dark color. Yet he felt that it would still have been possible to establish its ethnicity through his method, the melanin dosage test. A similar method is now in use in the United States. He said that the scien­tists involved had used far more gamma rays than was necessary for their experiment. He asked for permission to examine a specimen of the mummy’s skin and hair but he’ was refused permission. The authorities said that it would damage the mummy. Later on, after a certain discovery which was covered up, the scientists abandoned the mummy, suppressed all their reports, and circulated a rumor that this was not really the mummy of Ramses II.”


Ramses II never tired of reporting about the battle of Kadesh, The official account of the Kadesh Battle is found inscribed on temples in Abydos, Abu Simbel, the Ramesseum, Karnak, Luxor, and two hieratic papyri. It occurred in the fifth year of his reign near the Orontes River in the Bekaa Valley. At this time the Kamite army was organized into four divisions, each named after one of the chief deities of the realm: Ra, Ptah, Set, and Amen. Included in the Egyptian contingent were the King’s pet lion and two of the monarch’s sons.

Misled by false intelligence reports, Ramses, with only a small personal bodyguard, soon found himself far ahead of the main body of his troops, and it was precisely at this moment that the enemies of Kmt attacked. Near the Syrian city of Kadesh the battle was joined, and it was only Ramses’ personal valor and courage that saved the Kmt army from total disaster. Gathering a small band around him, Ramses charged into the Hittite lines no less than four times and held his tiny force together until the Ptah division of his army arrived on the scene to rescue the situation. The Monarch thought enough of this battle to have it commemorated on monuments throughout the Black Land. Withdrawing towards the west, the Kamites finally signed a treaty with the Hittites which prevailed for the rest of the Ramses’ lengthy reign.


To Ramses II, Queen Nefertari was “The Beautiful Companion.” Nefertari’s two main titles were “King’s Great Wife” and “Mistress of the Two Lands.” The temple of Het-Heru the northern temple of Abu Simbel, was built by Ramses II to honor this favorite wife, Queen Nefertari. Between the statues of ‘Ramses II are those of Nefertari, and the size of her statues signifies that she will be honored to nearly the same degree as her husband in her relationship to the Deities. Both temples at Abu Simbel were used as storehouses for treasures and tribute exacted from Nubia, thus combining the temples’ essentially re­ligious function with an eminently practical one.

Two building inscriptions are found, one in the main hall, and the other on the facade. The first reads:

“Ramses, he made it as his monument for the Great King’s wife Nefertari, beloved of Mut–a house hewn in the pure mountain of Nubia, of fine white enduring sandstone, as an eternal work.”

The second inscription reads:

Ramses-Meriamon, beloved of Amen, like Re, forever, made a house of very great monuments, for the Great King’s wife Nefertari, fair of face….His Majesty commanded to make a house in Nubia hewn in the moun­tain. Never was the like done before.”

After her death Queen Nefertari was worshipped as a divine Osirian, or a soul which had become deified, and under the attributes of Asr (Osiris), Lord of the dead, was adored as a god. Nefertari was housed in a 5,200 square foot tomb, the most splendid in the Valley of the Queens.


Ramses II commissioned more buildings and had more colossal statues than any other Kamite king, also having his name carved or reliefs cut on many older monuments. Ramses initiated enormous building activities in Nubia. He commissioned temples at Beit-el-Wali, Gerf Hussein, Wadi-es-Sebua, Derr, Abu Simbel and Aksha in Lower Nubia, and at Amara and Barkal in Upper Nubia. The temple of Abu Simbel, one of the largest rock-cut structures in the world, is no doubt a unique piece of architectural work. It is carved into a mountain of sandstone rock on the left bank of the Nile that was held sacred long before Ramses’ temple was cut there. It was dedicated to Re-Harakhte, the god of the rising sun, who is represented as a man with the head of a falcon wearing the solar disc.

It is a masterpiece of architectural design and engineering. The whole purpose and position of the temple was devoted to the adoration of the sun at dawn, and it was only at sunrise at certain times of the year that the vast interior was illuminated, when the light penetrated the sanctuary. It must have been for the ancients an unforgettable experience to stand in the main hall at dawn and watch the life-giving light of the sun gradually penetrate into the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies, of an ancient faith.

On the facade of the temple of Abu Simbel are four colossal seated statues cut out of the living rock. The seated statues, two on each side of the entrance, represent Ramses II wearing the double crown of Kmt. The entrance opens directly into the great hall where two rows of four-square pillars are seen. On the front of these pillars are four gigantic standing statues of the king, again wearing the double crown. Each of the seated colossi are sixty-five feet high, taller than the Colossi of Memnon. On the walls of the great hall, which are thirty feet high, there are scenes and inscriptions concerning religious ceremonies and the monarch’s military activities against the Hittites.

The Small Temple of Abu Simbel, contemporary with the Great Temple, was dedicated to the ancient and illustrious goddess Het-Heru and Queen Nefer­tari. Between 1964 and 1968 both temples were removed to their new location, about 210 miles further away from the river and sixty-five miles higher, at the cost of some ninety million dollars.

For the international concerns of Kmt and for the regaining of the empire, a capital near Asia and the Mediterranean was needed. To Memphis of the White Walls and Waset, Ramses had the ambition and energy to add a daz­zling new urban center. The centerpiece of Pi-Ramses was the former summer palace of Seti I which was added to and enriched by Ramses II. Pi-Ramses was also a place where Kmt’s soldiers and chariots could be housed for military readiness.

Ramses took a strong personal interest in the adornment of the city and was constantly in pursuit of new resources for this purpose. He praised himself for his concern for the labor corps working there. He rewarded the overseer with gold as a mark of honor for finding out a block and prepar­ing it for its purpose he also assured the workmen that he had filled up the storehouse in advance so that ‘each one of you will be cared for monthly. I have filled the storehouse with everything, with bread, meat, cakes, for your food, sandals, linen and much oil, for anointing your heads every ten days and clothing you each year.’”


Begun well before the time of Ramses II, the Karnak temple complex grew to become one of the largest sacred sites in the world, encompassing more than 250 acres. The most celebrated and spectacular part of the Karnak temple complex is the grand hypostyle hall. Ramses II completed this hall in a marvelous manner, and it appears as a stupendous forest of columns–ex­actly 122 of them. The tallest of these columns are about seventy-five feet high, and many of them are decorated with the deeply incised hieroglyphics that be­came a veritable signature of Ramses II.


The magnificent Luxor temple lies just over a mile from the south of the main temple at Karnak. At Luxor, Amen was worshipped in the ithyphallic form of the timeless fertility-god known as Min. The temple is called Luxor, from the Arabic el-Qusur, meaning the Castles, the name given to the village that grew up on the site. The temple is largely the work of Amenhotep III and Ramses II, who added a colonnade court and two obelisks in front of the temple. One remains, the other is in Paris, taken to France in honor of Jean Francois Champollion’s decipherment of Kemetic hieroglyphics. Ramses also had erected at Luxor six colossal statues in his own likeness. Today only four of the statues remain, two seated and two standing.

The Ramesseum is the funerary temple of Ramses II located on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. It was called “The House of Millions of Years of Ramses II in the Estate of Amen.” In the first court of the Ramesseum he set up a granite statue fifty-six feet high, only slightly smaller than the Colossi of Memnon. The gigantic monolith was quarried at Aswan and then ferried down-river to Waset, offloaded, transported several miles to the temple, and erected at the site. Its original weight has been estimated at about 1,000 tons, about three times the weight of one of Hatshepsut’s obelisks at Karnak. It was from the Ramesseum that the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) drew the inspiration for the sonnet in which he wrote, “My name is Ozymandias [Ramses II], king of kings Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Today, only the head, torso and legs of the statue remain. The rest was destroyed by Christian monks determined to eradicate what they regarded as idolatry.

Having lived vigorously for more than nine decades, Ramses II died in the second month of his sixty-seventh regnal year. There was no final death, however, in the African way of thinking only gradual decay and periodic renewal. Egypt was perhaps the earliest nation to clearly articulate the purely African notions of resurrection and immortality. As one writer succinctly stated, within the context of Egypt, “If Osiris, the Nile, and all vegetation, might rise again, so might man.” Man could rise, but only if he made God’s words, which were truth, justice and righteousness, manifest on earth. This was fundamental to the African (in this case, Kametic) worldview.

Reclaiming for the African world the ancient Kamite heritage (which of course includes the knowledge of heroic sovereigns such as Ramses the Great), must be seen as an integral part of the Black liberation movement. It will inspire and direct us. Kmt was the heart and soul of Africa, and we need only glance at her noble traditions, her dignity, humanity and royal splendor to measure our true fall from power.

When we examine the civilization of Kmt we note what is perhaps the proudest achievement in all the annals of human history. We must see in Kmt the knowledge that what African people did, African people can do. In this way the great deeds of our illustrious ancestors, including the incomparable Ramses II, are resurrected, and ancient history embraces both what is and what can be, and lays the basis for the forward movement of the African people.


Hereditary Princess, the great first one (iryt-p`t-tpit-wrt)
Lady of The Two Lands (nbt-t3wy)
Great King’s Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt)
Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (hnwt-Shm’w -mhw)
King’s Daughter (s3t-niswt)
King’s Sister (snt-niswt)

Bint-Anath was the oldest daughter of Ramesses II by Queen Isetnofret. Her name is also given as Bent-Anta, Bint-Anta, or Bent-Anath.
Bint-Anath had at least three brothers: Princes Ramesses, Khaemwaset and Merenptah.
She was raised to the position of Great Royal wife sometime in the early second decade of her father's reign. She seems to have shared some of her Queenly duties with her half-sister Meryetamun.
Bint-Anath may have survived into the reign of her brother Merneptah. There is a statue which gives her titles as Great royal wife and associates her with Merenptah. It's not clear if this statue was just simply usurped from Ramesses II or not. It is however also possible that this statue refers to the daughter of Bint-Anath, and who may have had the same name.

Bint-Anath was ultimately buried in the Valley of the Queens in Tomb 71. In the tomb a daughter of Bint-Anath is mentioned, but we are not told what her name is.

Titles and epithets used by Bint-Anath:

  • Lady of Both Lands
  • King’s Daughter, ( var: Beloved King’s Daughter, Bodily King’s Daughter)
  • Great Royal Wife
  • Mistress of the South and North
  • Hereditary Princess
  • greatly favored (var. great in favor(s) )
  • Chief of the Harim
  • King’s Wife

Many of the quotes below are taken directly from:
Kitchen, K.A., Rammeside Inscriptions, Translated & Annotated, Translations, Volume II, Blackwell Publishers, 1996
Sometimes part of the text was omitted and for any further information one should of course consult above mentioned publication.

Scene from Tomb 71 in the Valley of the Queens
Based on a line drawing by Lepsius. Abt. III, Band 6, Bl 172

Valley of the Queens Tomb 71

Lepius gives a short description of this tomb. In his list this is tomb number 4. The tomb of .
In the back room on the left Bint-Anath appears before the god
The name of the Queen is written in slightly different ways:

Her titles include: King's Daughter (s3t-niswt), Great King's Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt), Lady of the Two Lands (nbt-t3wy) and Mistress of the Two Lands.
In a side chamber on the left the god Hor-An-Mutef appears dressed as a royal prince.
See Univ. of Halle site for the original works by Lepsius:

a. Princess before Osiris and Nephtys
Osiris, Lady of Both Lands, Bint-Anath, justified
"He who awakes well', the great god, Lord of Heaven, Ruler of the Conclave of Gods: "I grant you a place of repose in the land of righteousness."
Osiris, King's Daughter Bint-Anath, justified
Nephtys, lady of heaven, Mistress of the Two Lands: "I grant you a place [. ]."
B. Variant Titles of Princess
Osiris, Great Royal Wife, Lady of Both Lands, Mistress of the South and North, Bint-Anath
Osiris, King's Daughter, Great Royal Wife, Lady of Both Lands, Bint-Anath

Queen Bintanath and her daughter. After a line drawing
in "Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt" by Joyce Tyldesley.

Inner sarcophagus (Cairo Museum JdE 47370)
Lid, center-line :
Words spoken by the Osiris, King's Daughter Bint-Anath, He (sic) days: "Descend, O my mother Nut, spread yourself over me, and may I be place amidst the Imperishable Stars not shall die ,the Osiris etc.>
Round Foot:
The Osiris, Hereditary Princess, greatly favored, Chief of the Harim, King's Daughter Bint-Anath
On Side:
The Osiris, King's Wife, King's Daughter, Bint-Anath
<Sarcophagus usurped from a man> [ Kitchen]

Relief fragment from Ahnas : [. Bint-] Anath [ Kitchen]

Oil-stamp Seal, Qurna : Vegetable-oil of/for the Estate of Bint-Anath. [ Kitchen]

Luxor Pylon II, Scenes below year 3 text
Bodily King's Daughter Bint-Anath is the first princess in a procession of princesses.
is the second princess, and the rest of the princesses are lost. [ Kitchen]

Stela depicting the royal family Bint-Anath behind her mother Isetnofret and her father.
Painting based on linedrawing by Lepsius. The original can be found at Abt III, Band 7, Bl 174

W. Silsila Speos, Royal Family Stela by Prince Khaemwaset.
Prince, King, Queen and Princess-Queen before Ptah and Nefertem.

i. Deities:
Ptah-Tonen Nefertem, guardian of the Two Lands, life of the people.
ii. King:
Lord of Both Lands, Usermaatre Setepenre, Lord of Crowns, Ramesses II
iii. Prince:
King's Son, beloved of him, Khaemwaset.
iv. Queen:
Great Royal Wife Isetnofret
v. Princess-Queen:
Hereditary Princess, great in favor(s) (?), King's daughter and Great Royal Wife, Bint-Anath, may she live.
vi. Text:
<text omitted>
vii. Two princes:

His elder brother, the Hereditary Prince, Royal Scribe, Generalissimo, and bodily Senior King's Son, Ramesses.
His younger brother, the Royal Scribe, skilled of fingers, bodily King's Son, Merenptah. [ Kitchen]

Sinai, Statue (BM 697)
Princess on left side:
King's Daughter and Great Royal Wife, Bint-Anath, may she live forever.
The statue has inscribed text on base, front of Kilt, standard and dorsal pillar. [ Kitchen]

Piramesse, Found in Tanis:
Red sandstone Colossus
with Bint-Anath:
King's Daughter and Great Royal Wife, Bint-Anath, may she live
Sandstone Colossus with Bint-Anath and Meryetamen

[King's Daughter,] Royal Wife, Bint-Anath, may she live
Beloved King's Daughter, Royal Wife, Meryetamen, may she live [ Kitchen]

Red Granite Colossus, S. Gate of Ptah Precinct (Memphis)
Statue of Ramesses II with Prince Khaemwaset and Princess-Queen Bint-Anath.
<some text omitted>
Prince: King's Son and Sem-Priest, Prophet of the Temple of Ramesses II in the domain of Ptah, Khaemwaset.
Princess-Queen: King's Daughter and King's Wife, Bint-Anath [ Kitchen]

El-Kab Temple of Ramesses II:
A depiction of an Iunmutef priest and the Princesses Bint-Anath and Meryetamen. Scene includes cartouches and the princesses carry wands. [PM]
Bintanat is termed "king's daughter" as well as "king's wife", while no titles are given for Merytamun . Both Merytamen and Bint-Anath have a modius without stalks, shakes a sistrum, and carries a gazelle-headed wand. They face Iunmutef ("pillar of his mither"), a solar deity often associated with the crown prince. From: Representation in a small temple at El-Kab. (A. Wilkinson : 117) By Christiane Lilyquist The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Courtesy Rozette)

Usurped Middle Kingdom Statue with Bint-Anath and Meryetamen depicted on the base of the statue.
<some text omitted>
right: King's Daughter, Royal Wife, Bint-Anath, may she live and grow young!
left: King's Daughter, Royal Wife, Meryetamen, may she live! [ Kitchen]

Hermopolis: Limestone Colossus from the temple of Ramesses II,
West Statue of Ramesses II and the Queens Bint-Anath and Henutmire.
<some text omitted>
throne, front, right:
The Hereditary Princess, richly favored, Mistress of the South and North, King's Daughter, Great Royal Wife, Bint-Anath, given [life].
throne, front, left:
The Hereditary Princess, richly favored, Mistress of the South and North, King's Daughter, Great Royal Wife, Henut[mi]re, [given life]. [ Kitchen]


Bint-Anath standing before Ramesses II.
The statue was later usurped by Pinudjem I.
(Photo on the left: courtesy of Kevin Roxborough)

Karnak, Temple of Amun:
Pylon II, Statuary , South Colossus of Ramesses II before Vestibule.

King's Daughter, King's Wife, Bint-Anath, may she live forever. [ Kitchen]

Head of Bint-Anath
Photo by Sesen

Bint-Anath depicted next to the leg of Ramesses II, Alain Guilleux

Wadi es-Sebua, Nubia

Rock temple,Temple Proper, South Colossus of Ramesses II at Pylon Entrance of Inner Forecourt. Princess, left: Bodily King's Daughter, Great Royal Wife, Bint-Anath, may she live! [ Kitchen]
[The statue has inscriptions on standard and dorsal pillar.]

Daughter of Ramesses II from Wadi-es-Sebua
This could be either Bint-Anath or Meryetamen.
From Nubian Museum - Alain Guilleux

Abu Simbel, Nubia: Great Temple
Facade Southernmost Colossus.

Statues of Bodily King's Daughter Nebt-tawy and King's Daughter Bint-Anath.
Great Pillared Hall: Pillar III (South Side)

Bint-Anath offers flowers to Anuqet
Bodily King's Daughter, his beloved, and King's Wife, Bint-Anath, given life like Re [ Kitchen]

Painting of Aswan Rockstela
Based on Lepsius, Abt III, Band 7, Bl. 175

B. Lower register: Princes Ramesses, Merneptah and Princess Queen Bint-Anath.
v. Prince Ramesses:
His elder brother, the Hereditary Prince, Royal Scribe, Generalissimo, King's Son, Ramesses.
vi. Princess-Queen: His elder sister, King's Daughter and Great Royal Wife, Bint-Anath.
vii. Prince Merenptah: His younger brother, the King's Son Merenptah. [ Kitchen]

Statue depicting Queen Bintanath in Luxor
This statue from Luxor depicts the "King's Daughter, King's Sister(?), Great Royal Wife Bintanath".
This statue has been alternately used to argue that Bint-Anath survived into the reign of Merenptah or that Bint-Anath's daughter (shown in Bint-Anath's tomb) was also named Bint-Anath and married her uncle-brother Merenptah.

The statue of Merenptah (from Luxor) showing King's Daughter, King's Sister, Great Royal Wife Bintanath on the side. On the right a close-up of the titles and names of the Queen. (Photos courtesy of Sesen).
(Click on any of the images to see an enlarged picture).

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Marriage And Birth In Nubia

In Nubia marriage is usually the responsibility of the parents and also uncles who shared the responsibility, because kinship in Nubia is both patriarchal and matriarchal. The most common marriage is between cousins and sometimes it is obligatory. The dowry, in that case, is much lower than what an outsider would have to pay. The amount varies in different tribes. Presents and monetary gifts are given to both families to help with expenses which usually are very high for a wedding.

Since the Nile plays a very important rule in Nubian culture, the couple has to go down to the river an on their wedding night and wash in the water to ensure prosperity, good health and numerous progeny. When a male child is born, the birth is celebrated on the seventh day with the slaughter of a sheep or more animals. Recital of Qur'an takes place and the boy is given a name. But when the child is a female they only invite close friends and go to the Nile bank, where the baby is named.

Head of a Colossus, Wadi es Sebui, Nubia - History

People - Ancient Egypt : Amenhotep III (Nebmaatre)

Amenhotep III (Nebmaatre) in Tour Egypt AMENHOTEP III, THE NINTH KING OF EGYPT'S 18TH DYNASTY BY JIMMY DUNN - We believe that Amenhotep III ruled for almost 40 years during the 18th Dynasty of Egypt's history that represented one of its most prosperous and stable periods. We must grant to Amenhotep III's grandfather, Tuthmosis III, who is sometimes referred to as the Napoleon of ancient Egypt, the foundation of this success by dominating through military action Egypt's Syrian, Nubian and Libyan neighbors. Because of that, little or no military actions were called for during his grandson's reign. The small police actions in Nubia that did take place were directed by his son and viceroy of Kush, Merymose (or perhaps an earlier viceroy) . Amenhotep (or heqawaset) was this kings birth name, meaning "Amun is Pleased, Ruler of Thebes. His throne name was Nub-maat-re, which means "Lord of Truth is Re. Amenhotep III's birth is splendidly depicted in a series of reliefs inside a room on the east side of the temple of Luxor. Built by Amenhotep III, the room was dedicated to Amun. However, it portrays the creator god, Khnum of Elephantine (at modern Aswan) with his ram head, fashioning the child and his ka on a potter's wheel under the supervision of the goddess Isis. The god Amun is then led to Amenhotep III's mother by Thoth, god of wisdom, after which Amun is shown in the presence of the goddesses Hathor and Mut while they nurse the future king. His father was Tuthmosis IV by one of that king's chief queens, Mutemwiya. She may have, though mostly in doubt now, been the daughter of the Mitannian king, Artatama. That queen was indeed probably sent to Egypt for the purposes of a diplomatic marriage. It is more than likely that Amenhotep III succeeded to the throne of Egypt as a child, sometime between the ages of two and twelve years of age. There is a statue of the treasurer Sobekhotep holding a prince Amenhotep-mer-khepseh that was most likely executed shortly before Tuthmosis IV's death, as well as a painting in the tomb of the royal nurse, Hekarnehhe (TT64) portraying the prince as a young boy, though not a small child. This, and the fact that his mother is not so very prominently visible, along with other factors, suggests that he was more likely between six and twelve years of age at the time of his father's death. It is unlikely that his mother, Mutemwiya, served as a regent for the young king, and whoever may have been in charge at the beginning of his reign seems to have remained in the background. Amenhotep III's own chief queen, who he married in year two of his reign, was not of royal blood, but came from a very substantial family. She was Tiy, the daughter of Yuya and his wife, Tuya, who owned vast holdings in the Delta. Yuya was also a powerful military leader. Their tomb, numbered KV46 in the Valley of the Kings, is well known. His brother-in-law by this marriage, Anen, would during his reign also rise to great power as Chancellor of Lower Egypt, Second Prophet of Amun, sem-priest of Heliopolis, and Divine Father. It is possible that the king's early regency was carried out by his wife's family. However, it would seem that Amenhotep collected a large harem of ladies over the years, including several from diplomatic marriages, including Gilukhepa, a princess of Naharin, as well as two of his daughters (Isis and in year 30 of his reign, Sitamun or Satamun, who bore the title "great royal wife" simultaneously with her mother). We can document at least six of his children consisting of two sons and four daughters (other daughters including Henuttaneb and Nebetiah). However, his probable oldest son, Tuthmosis who was a sem-priest, died early leaving the future heretic king, Amenhotep IV, otherwise known as Akhenaten, as the crown prince. The King's Early Years In essence, we may split Amenhotep III's reign into two parts, with his earliest years given much to sportsmanship with a few minor military activities. While as usual, an expedition into Nubia in year five of his reign was given grandiose attention on some reliefs, it probably amounted to nothing more than a low key police action. However, it may have pushed as for as south of the fifth cataract. It was recorded on inscriptions near Aswan and at Konosso in Nubia. There is also a stele in the British Museum recording a Nubian campaign, but it is unclear whether it references this first action, or one later in his reign. There was also a Nubian rebellion reported at Ibhet, crushed by his son. While Amenhotep III was almost certainly not directly involved in this conflict, he records having slaughtered many within the space of a single hour. We learn from inscriptions that this campaign resulted in the capture of 150 Nubian men, 250 women, 175 children, 110 archers and 55 servants, added to the 312 right hands of the slain. Perhaps to underscore the Kushite subjection to Egypt, he had built at Soleb, almost directly across the Nile from the Nubian capital at Kerma, a fortress known as Khaemmaat, along with a temple. The Prosperity and International Relationships However, by year 25 of Amenhotep III's reign, military problems seem to have been settled, and we find a long period of great building works and high art. It was also a period of lavish luxury at the royal court. The wealth needed to accomplish all of this did not come from conquests, but rather from foreign trade and an abundant supply of gold, mostly from the mines in the Wadi Hammamat and further south in Nubia. Amenhotep III was unquestionably involved with international diplomatic efforts, which led to increased foreign trade. During his reign, we find a marked increase in Egyptian materials found on the Greek mainland. We also find many Egyptian place names, including Mycenae, Phaistos and Knossos first appearing in Egyptian inscriptions We also find letters written between Amenhotep III and his peers in Babylon, Mitanni and Arzawa preserved in cuneiform writing on clay tablets. From a stele in his mortuary temple, we further learn that he sent at least one expedition to punt. It is rather clear that the nobility prospered during the reign of Amenhotep III. However, the plight of common Egyptians is less sure, and we have little evidence to suggest that they shared in Egypt's prosperity. Yet, Amenhotep III and his granary official Khaemhet boasted of the great crops of grain harvested in the kings 30th (jubilee) year. And while such evidence is hardly unbiased, the king was remembered even 1,000 years later as a fertility god, associated with agricultural success. Building Projects Though a number of Amenhotep III's building projects no longer exist, we find at Karnak almost a complete makeover of the temple, including his efforts to embellish the already monumental temple to Amun, as well as his the East Temple for the sun god and his own festival building. His impact in the Karnak temple was thematic, leaving the impression of a warrior king whose victories honored both himself and the God Amun, and he changed the face of this temple almost completely. He had his workers dismantle the peristyle court in front of the Fourth Pylon, as well as the shrines associated with it, using them as fill for a new Pylon, the Third, on the east-west axis. This created a new entrance to the temple, and he had two rows of columns with open papyrus capitals erected down the center of the newly formed forecourt. At the south end of Karnak, he began construction on the Tenth Pylon, with a slightly different orientation then that of the Seventh and Eighth, in order for it to lead to a new entrance for the percent of the goddess Mut. He may have even started a new temple for her. To balance the south temple complex, he built a new shrine to the goddess Ma'at, the daughter of the sun-god, to the north of central Karnak. At Luxor he built a new temple to the same god, including the still standing colonnaded court. That effort is considered a masterpiece of elegance and design and particular credit must be given to his mater architect, Amenhotep son of Hapu. He also built a monumental mortuary temple on the West Bank at Thebes (modern Luxor) that is the single largest royal temple known to us from ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, it was built much too close to the flood plain and was in ruins by the 19th Dynasty, when material was quarried from it for new building projects. While some of the ground plan of the temple may be made out, the only material remains are the Colossi of Memnon. These statues were misnamed by the Greeks, but actually depict Amenhotep III. The southern of the statues also depicts the two most important women in the king's life, his mother Mutemwiya and his wife, Queen Tiy. However, it should be noted that within the grounds of the temple, more fragments of colossal statuary have been found than in any other known sacred precinct. In the fields behind the statues, also stands a great, repaired stele that was once in the sanctuary of his temple, around which are located fragments of sculptures. The West Bank was also the site of Amenhotep III's huge palace, called Malkata. Fragments of this building remain, unlike most other royal residences. From this scant evidence, it would seem that the walls were plastered and painted with lively scenes from nature. Next to the palace complex he also built a great harbor. Further south on the west bank at Kom el-Samak, Amenhotep III also built a jubilee pavilion of painted mud brick and at Sumenu, some twenty kilometers south of Thebes the king built a temple dedicated to the cult of the crocodile god, Sobek. Along with these building projects, we also know that he developed and expanded cults at a number of other locations including Amada (for Amun and Ra-Horakhty), Hebenu and Hermopolis, where we find two colossus statues of baboons and an altar. There were other building projects in Egypt proper at Memphis, where blocks of brown quartzite remain from the king's great temple called "Nebmaatra United with Ptah", Elephantine (now destroyed) and a completed chapel at Elkab. Building elements at Bubastis, Athribis, Letopolis and Heliopolis also attest to the king's interest in the eastern Delta. He also built temples are shrines in Nubia at Quban, Wadi es-Sebua, Sedinga, Soleb and Tabo Island. There were also building elements or stele in his name at Aniba, Buhen, Mirgissa, Kawa and Gebel Barkal. Artistry of the Period Artistically, many of the royal portraits of the king in sculptor are truly masterpieces of any historical age. After the Colossi of Memnon, the largest of these is the limestone statue of the king and queen with three small standing princesses discovered at Medinet Habu. However, many other statues give the king a look of reflection, and bringing to life emotional emphasis. We find grand statues of black granite depicting a seated Amenhotep wearing the nemes headdress, unearthed by Belzoni from behind the Colossi of Memnon and from Tanis in the Delta. Others statues and some reliefs and paintings depict the king wearing the more helmet like khepresh, sometimes referred to as the Blue, or War Crown. Even in recent years, some statuary of Amenhotep III continues to be discovered, such as an incredible six foot (1.83 meter) high pink quartzite statue of the king standing on a sledge and wearing the Double Crown of Egypt. It was discovered in the courtyard of Amenhotep III colonnade of the Luxor temple in 1989. This particular statue was unearthed completely intact, with the only damage resulting from a careful removal of the name Amun during the reign of his son. This statue was probably executed late in his reign, regardless of the fact that is shows a youthful king. So good were many of his statues that they were later usurped by kings, sometimes by them simply overwriting his cartouche with their own. At other times, such as in the case of the huge red granite head found by Belzoni and initially identified as representing Tuthmosis III, his statues were more extensively reworked (this example by Ramesses II). We also find many other fine statues, paintings and reliefs executed during the life of Amenhotep III. Two well known portraits of his principle queen include a small ebony head now in Berlin, and a small faced and crowned head found by Petrie at the temple of Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai. A cartouche on the front of the crown allowed precise identification as that of Tiy. We also find Tiy appearing with the king on temple walls at Soleb and west Thebes. However, there are also fine reliefs of her in some of the courtier tombs, such as TT47 belonging to Userhet and TT192 of Khereuf. There was also a proliferation of private statues, as well as many fine private tombs with excellent artwork (such as TT55, the Tomb of Ramose) during the reign of Amenhotep III, including a number representing Amenhotep son of Hapu, his well known architect, but also of other nobles and dignitaries. Other notable items include the set of rose granite lions originally placed before the temple at Soleb in Nubia, but later moved to the Temple at Gebel Barkal. Religion and the King's Deification It is likely that Amenhotep III was deified during his own lifetime, and that the worship of the sun god, Aten, by his son may have directly or indirectly also involved the worship of his father. Amenhotep III was somewhat insistent that he be identified with this sun god during his lifetime. From the time of his first jubilee in his 30 years of reign, we find scenes where he is depicted taking the role of Ra riding in his solar boat. Of course, the king was expected to merge with the sun after his death, but in Amenhotep III's case, we find that he named his palace complex "the gleaming Aten", and used stamp seals for commodities that may be read, "Nebmaatra (one of his names) is the gleaming Aten". He consistently identified himself with the national deities rather than his royal predecessors, even representing himself as the substitute for major gods in a few instances. We even find during his reign the solorization of many well known gods, including Nekhbet, Amun, Thoth and Horus-khenty-khety. Yet, no stele or statues we know for certain were dedicated to Amenhotep III as a major deity during his lifetime. It is notable that the deification of Ramesses II only 100 years later carried with it a significant number of monuments identifying him as a deity during his lifetime. Nevertheless, it has been argued that his son, best known as Akhenaten, may have worshipped his father as Aten. There are many arguments against this, but it is clear that at least to some degree, it is true. After all, the deceased king was identified with the Aten upon his death. But whether he was worshipped as such during his lifetime may ultimately depend on whether or not Akhenaten ruled as a co-regent before his father's death. If they did rule together, than objects venerating Amenhotep III during Akhenaten's reign could be seen as worship of a living deity, though not necessarily as the Aten. Regardless, this is all a mater of hot debate within Egyptology circles, thought the answers today seem no clearer. The End of the Reign From clay dockets at his Malkata palace, we believe Amenhotep III may have died in about the 39th year of his rule, perhaps when he was only 45 years old. His wife, Tiy, apparently outlived him by as many as twelve years. She is shown, along with her youngest daughter, Beket-Aten, in a relief on an Amarna Tomb that may be dated to between year nine and twelve of Akhetaten's reign. From a group of well known documents called the Amarna Letters, we find inquires about her health that lead us to believe that she may have lived in her son's capital for a time prior to her death. Regardless, upon her death, she may have first been buried at Amarna but was then returned to Thebes where she was buried along with her husband in tomb WV22 in the Valley of the Kings. However, it is also possible that she may have been buried in tomb KV55, where objects bearing her name have also been discovered. Neither the king or his queen were discovered in that tomb, but it is very possible Queen Tiy may be the "Elder Woman) from the cache of mummies found by Loret in KV35, the tomb of Amenhotep II. For many years, it was also though that Amenhotep III's body was also a part of that cache, but fairly recent analysis indicates that the body thought to be his may instead by that of his son, or possibly even Ay, one of the last kings of the 18th Dynasty.

Amenhotep III in Wikipedia Amenhotep III (sometimes read as Amenophis III Egyptian *ˀAmāna-Ḥātpa meaning Amun is Satisfied) was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. According to different authors, he ruled Egypt from June 1386 to 1349 BC or June 1388 BC to December 1351 BC/1350 BC[4] after his father Thutmose IV died. Amenhotep III was the son of Thutmose by Mutemwia, a minor wife of Amenhotep's father.[5] His reign was a period of unprecedented prosperity and artistic splendour, when Egypt reached the peak of her artistic and international power. When he died (probably in the 39th year of his reign), his son initially ruled as Amenhotep IV, but later changed his own royal name to Akhenaten. Family The son of the future Thutmose IV (the son of Amenhotep II) and a minor wife Mutemwiya, Amenhotep was born around 1388 BC.[6] He was a member of the Thutmosid family that had ruled Egypt for almost 150 years since the reign of Thutmose I. Amenhotep III was the father of two sons with his Great Royal Wife Tiye, a queen who could be considered as the progenitor of monotheism[7] through her first son, Crown Prince Thutmose, who predeceased his father, and her second son, Akhenaten, who ultimately succeeded Amenhotep III to the throne. Amenhotep II also may have been the father of a third child-called Smenkhkare, who later would succeed Akhenaten, briefly rule Egypt as pharaoh, and who is thought to have been a woman.[7] Amenhotep III and Tiye may also have had four daughters: Sitamun, Henuttaneb, Isis or Iset, and Nebetah.[8] They appear frequently on statues and reliefs during the reign of their father and also are represented by smaller objects-with the exception of Nebetah.[9] Nebetah is attested only once in the known historical records on a colossal limestone group of statues from Medinet Habu.[10] This huge sculpture, that is seven meters high, shows Amenhotep III and Tiye seated side by side, "with three of their daughters standing in front of the throne--Henuttaneb, the largest and best preserved, in the centre Nebetah on the right and another, whose name is destroyed, on the left."[8] Amenhotep III elevated two of his four daughters-Sitamun and Isis-to the office of "great royal wife" during the last decade of his reign. Evidence that Sitamun already was promoted to this office by Year 30 of his reign, is known from jar-label inscriptions uncovered from the royal palace at Malkata.[8] It should be noted that Egypt's theological paradigm encouraged a male pharaoh to accept royal women from several different generations as wives to strengthen the chances of his offspring succeeding him.[11] The goddess Hathor herself was related to Ra as first the mother and later wife and daughter of the god when he rose to prominence in the pantheon of the Ancient Egyptian religion.[8] Hence, Amenhotep III's marriage to his two daughters should not be considered unlikely based on contemporary views of marriage. Amenhotep III is known to have married Gilukhepa, the first of a series of diplomatic brides and the daughter of Shuttarna II of Mitanni, in the tenth year of his reign.[12] Around Year 36 of his reign, he also married Tadukhepa, the daughter of his ally Tushratta of Mitanni.[13] Life Amenhotep III enjoyed the distinction of having the most surviving statues of any Egyptian pharaoh, with over 250 of his statues having been discovered and identified. Since these statues span his entire life, they provide a series of portraits covering the entire length of his reign. Another striking characteristic of Amenhotep III's reign is the series of over 200 large commemorative stone scarabs that have been discovered over a large geographic area ranging from Syria (Ras Shamra) through to Soleb in Nubia.[14] Their lengthy inscribed texts extol the accomplishments of the pharaoh. For instance, 123 of these commemorative scarabs record the large number of lions (either 102 or 110 depending on the reading) that Amenhotep III killed "with his own arrows" from his first regnal year up to his tenth year.[15] Similarly, five other scarabs state that the foreign princess who would become a wife to him, Gilukhepa, arrived in Egypt with a retinue of 317 women. She was the first of many such princesses who would enter the pharaoh's household.[15] Another eleven scarabs record the excavation of an artificial lake he had built for his royal wife, Queen Tiye, in his eleventh regnal year, " "Regnal Year 11 under the Majesty of. Amenhotep (III), ruler of Thebes, given life, and the great royal wife Tiyi may she live her father's name was Yuya, her mother's name Tuya. His Majesty commanded the making of a lake for the great royal wife Tiyi-- may she live--in her town of Djakaru. (near Akhmin). Its length is 3,700 (cubits) and its width is 700 (cubits). (His Majesty) celebrated the Festival of Opening the Lake in the third month of Inundation, day sixteen. His Majesty was rowed in the royal barge Aten-tjehen in it [the lake]."[16] " Amenhotep appears to have been crowned while still a child, perhaps between the ages of 6 and 12. It is likely that a regent acted for him if he was made pharaoh at that early age. He married Tiye two years later and she lived twelve years after his death. His lengthy reign was a period of unprecedented prosperity and artistic splendour, when Egypt reached the peak of her artistic and international power. Proof of this is shown by the diplomatic correspondence from the rulers of Assyria, Mitanni, Babylon, and Hatti which is preserved in the archive of Amarna Letters these letters document frequent requests by these rulers for gold and numerous other gifts from the pharaoh. The letters cover the period from Year 30 of Amenhotep III until at least the end of Akhenaten's reign. In one famous correspondence-Amarna letter EA 4--Amenhotep III is quoted by the Babylonian king Kadashman-Enlil I in firmly rejecting the latter's entreaty to marry one of this pharaoh's daughters: " "From time immemorial, no daughter of the king of Egy[pt] is given to anyone."[17] " Amenhotep III's refusal to allow one of his daughters to be married to the Babylonian monarch may indeed be connected with Egyptian traditional royal practices that could provide a claim upon the throne through marriage to a royal princess, or, it be viewed as a shrewd attempt on his part to enhance Egypt's prestige over those of her neighbours in the international world.[citation needed] The pharaoh's reign was relatively peaceful and uneventful. The only recorded military activity by the king is commemorated by three rock-carved stelas from his fifth year found near Aswan and Sai Island in Nubia. The official account of Amenhotep III's military victory emphasizes his martial prowess with the typical hyperbole used by all pharaohs. " "Regnal Year 5, third month of Inundation, day 2. Appearance under the Majesty of Horus: Strong bull, appearing in truth Two Ladies: Who establishes laws and pacifies the Two Lands. King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Nebmaatra, heir of Ra Son of Ra: [Amenhotep, ruler of Thebes], beloved of [Amon]-Ra, King of the Gods, and Khnum, lord of the cataract, given life. One came to tell His Majesty, "The fallen one of vile Kush has plotted rebellion in his heart." His Majesty led on to victory he completed it in his first campaign of victory. His Majesty reached them like the wing stroke of a falcon, like Menthu (war god of Thebes) in his transformation. Ikheny, the boaster in the midst of the army, did not know the lion that was before him. Nebmaatra was the fierce- eyed lion whose claws seized vile Kush, who trampled down all its chiefs in their valleys, they being cast down in their blood, one on top of the other."[18] " Amenhotep III celebrated three Jubilee Sed festivals, in his Year 30, Year 34, and Year 37 respectively at his Malkata summer palace in Western Thebes.[19] The palace, called as Per-Hay or "House of Rejoicing" in ancient times, comprised a temple of Amun and a festival hall built especially for this occasion.[19] One of the king's most popular epithets was Aten-tjehen which means "the Dazzling Sun Disk" it appears in his titulary at Luxor temple and, more frequently, was used as the name for one of his palaces as well as the Year 11 royal barge, and denotes a company of men in Amenhotep's army.[20] Proposed co-regency by Akhenaten There is currently no conclusive evidence of a co-regency between Amenhotep III and his son, Akhenaten. A letter from the Amarna palace archives dated to Year 2-rather than Year 12-of Akhenaten's reign from the Mitannian king, Tushratta, (Amarna letter EA 27) preserves a complaint about the fact that Akhenaten did not honor his father's promise to forward Tushratta statues made of solid gold as part of a marriage dowry for sending his daughter, Tadukhepa, into the pharaoh's household.[21] This correspondence implies that if any co-regency occurred between Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, it lasted no more than a year at the most.[22] Lawrence Berman observes in a 1998 biography of Amenhotep III that, "It is significant that the proponents of the coregency theory have tended to be art historians [ie: Raymond Johnson], whereas historians [such as Donald Redford and William Murnane] have largely remained unconvinced. Recognizing that the problem admits no easy solution, the present writer has gradually come to believe that it is unnecessary to propose a coregency to explain the production of art in the reign of Amenhotep III. Rather the perceived problems appear to derive from the interpretation of mortuary objects."[23].


Makuria is much better known than its neighbor Alodia to the south, but there are still many gaps in our knowledge. The most important source for the history of the area is various Arab travelers and historians who passed through Nubia during this period. These accounts are often problematic as many of the Arab writers were biased against their Christian neighbors. These works generally focus on only the military conflicts between Egypt and Nubia. [2] One exception is Ibn Selim el-Aswani, an Egyptian diplomat who traveled to Dongola when Makuria was at the height of its power in the 10th century and left a detailed account. [3]

The Nubians were a literate society, and a fair body of writing survives from the period. These documents were written in the Old Nubian language in an uncial variety of the Greek alphabet extended with some Coptic symbols and some symbols unique to Nubian. Written in a language that is closely related to the modern Nobiin tongue, these documents have long been deciphered. However, the vast majority of them are works dealing with religion or legal records that are of little use to historians. The largest known collection, found at Qasr Ibrim, does contain some valuable governmental records. [4]

The construction of the Aswan High Dam in 1964 threatened to flood what had once been the northern half of Makuria. In 1960, UNESCO launched a massive effort to do as much archaeological work as possible before the flooding occurred. Thousands of experts were brought from around the world over the next few years. Some of the more important Makurian sites looked at were the city of Faras and its cathedral, excavated by a team from Poland the British work at Qasr Ibrim and the University of Ghana's work at the town of Debeira West, which gave important information on daily life in medieval Nubia. All of these sites are in what was Nobatia the only major archaeological site in Makuria itself is the partial exploration of the capital at Old Dongola. [5]

Early period (5th–8th century) Edit

By the early 4th century, if not before, the Kingdom of Kush with its capital Meroe was collapsing. [9] The region which would later constitute Makuria, i.e. the Nile Valley between the third Nile cataract and the great Nile bend of the fourth/fifth cataract, has been proposed to have seceded from Kush already in the 3rd century. Here, a homogenous and relatively isolated culture dubbed as "pre-Makuria" developed. [10] During the 4th and 5th centuries, the region of Napata, located near the fourth cataract and formerly being one of the most important political and sacred places of Kush, served as the center for a new regional elite buried in large tumuli like those at el Zuma or Tanqasi. [11] There was a significant population growth [12] accompanied by social transformations, [13] resulting in the absorption of the Kushites into the Nubians, [14] a people originally from Kordofan [15] that had settled in the Nile Valley in the 4th century. [16] Thus, a new Makurian society and state emerged [13] by the 5th century. [17] In the late 5th century one of the first Makurian kings [18] moved the power base of the still-developing kingdom from Napata to further downstream, where the fortress of Dongola, the new seat of the royal court, was founded [19] and which soon developed a vast urban district. [20] Many more fortresses were built along the banks of the Nile, probably not intended to serve a military purpose, but to foster urbanization. [18]

Already at the time of the foundation of Dongola contacts were maintained with the Byzantine Empire. [21] In the 530s, the Byzantines under Emperor Justinian mounted a policy of expansion. The Nubians were part of his plan to win allies against the Sasanian Persians by converting them to Christianity, the Byzantine state religion. The imperial court, however, was divided in two sects, believing in two different natures of Jesus Christ: Justinian belonged to the Chalcedonians, the official denomination of the empire, while his wife Theodora was a Miaphysite, who were the strongest in Egypt. John of Ephesus described how two competing missions were sent to Nubia, with the Miaphysite arriving first in, and converting, the northern kingdom of Nobatia in 543. While the Nobatian king refused Justinian's mission to travel further south [22] archaeological records might suggest that Makuria converted still in the first half of the 6th century. [23] The chronicler John of Biclar recorded that in around 568 Makuria had “received the faith of Christ”. In 573 a Makurian delegation arrived in Constantinople, offering ivory and a giraffe and declaring its good relationship with the Byzantines. Unlike Nobatia in the north (with which Makuria seemed to have been in enmity) [24] and Alodia in the south Makuria embraced the Chalcedonian doctrine. [25] The early ecclesiastical architecture at Dongola confirms the close relations maintained with the empire, [24] trade between the two states was flourishing. [26]

In the 7th century, Makuria annexed its northern neighbour Nobatia. While there are several contradicting theories, [a] it seems likely that this occurred soon after the Sasanian occupation of Egypt, [28] presumably during the 620s, [29] but before 642. [30] Before the Sasanian invasion, Nobatia used to have strong ties with Egypt [29] and was thus hit hard by its fall. [31] Perhaps it was also invaded by the Sasanians itself: some local churches from that period show traces of destruction and subsequent rebuilding. [32] Thus weakened, Nobatia fell to Makuria, making Makuria extend as far north as Philae near the first cataract. [33] A new bishopric was founded in Faras in around 630 [b] and two new cathedrals styled after the basilica of Dongola were built in Faras and Qasr Ibrim. [29] It is not known what happened to the royal Nobatian family after the unification, [35] but it is recorded that Nobatia remained a separate entity within the unified kingdom governed by an Eparch. [36]

Between 639 and 641 the Muslim Arabs overran Byzantine Egypt. A Byzantine request for help remained unanswered by the Nubians due to conflicts with the Beja. In 641 or 642 the Arabs sent a first expedition into Makuria. [37] While it is not clear how far south [c] it penetrated it was eventually defeated. A second invasion led by Abdallah abi Sarh followed in 651/652, when the attackers pushed as far south as Dongola. [39] Dongola was besieged and bombarded by catapults. While they damaged parts of the town they could not penetrate the walls of the citadel. [40] Muslim sources highlight the skill of the Nubian archers in repelling the invasion. [41] With both sides being unable to decide the battle in their favour, abi Sarh and the Makurian king Qalidurut eventually met and drew up a treaty known as Baqt. [42] Initially it was a ceasefire also containing an annual exchange of goods (Makurian slaves for Egyptian wheat, textiles etc.), [43] an exchange typical for historical North East African states and perhaps being a continuation of terms already existing between the Nubians and Byzantines. [44] Probably in Umayyad times the treaty was expanded by regulating the safety of Nubians in Egypt and Muslims in Makuria. [45] While some modern scholars view the Baqt as a submission of Makuria to the Muslims it is clear that it was not: the exchanged goods were of equal value and Makuria was recognized as an independent state, [46] being one of the few to beat back the Arabs during the early Islamic expansion. [47] The Baqt would remain in force for more than six centuries, [48] although at times interrupted by mutual raids. [49]

The 8th century was a period of consolidation. Under king Merkurios, who lived in the late 7th and early 8th century and whom the Coptic biograph John the Deacon approvingly refers to as “the new Constantine”, the state seems to have been reorganized and Miaphysite Christianity to have become the official creed. [50] He probably also founded the monumental Ghazali monastery (around 5000 m 2 ) in Wadi Abu Dom. [51] Zacharias, Merkurios' son and successor, renounced his claim to the throne and went into a monastery, but maintained the right to proclaim a successor. Within a few years there were three different kings [52] and several Muslim raids [49] until before 747, the throne was seized by Kyriakos. [53] In that year, John the Deacon claims, the Umayyad governour of Egypt imprisoned the Coptic Patriarch, resulting in a Makurian invasion and siege of Fustat, the Egyptian capital, after which the Patriarch was released. [53] This episode has been referred to as “Christian Egyptian propaganda”, [54] although it is still likely that Upper Egypt was subject to a Makurian campaign, [53] perhaps a raid. [55] Nubian influence in Upper Egypt would remain strong. [56] Three years later, in 750, the sons of Marwan II, the last Umayyad Caliph, fled to Nubia and asked Kyriakos for asylum, although without success. [57] In around 760 Makuria was probably visited by the Chinese traveller Du Huan. [58]

Zenith (9th–11th century) Edit

The kingdom was at its peak between the 9th and 11th centuries. [61] During the reign of king Ioannes in the early 9th century, relations with Egypt were cut and the Baqt ceased to be paid. Upon Ioannes' death in 835 an Abbasid emissary arrived, demanding the Makurian payment of the missing 14 annual payments and threatening with war if the demands are not met. [62] Thus confronted with a demand for more than 5000 slaves, [49] Zakharias III "Augustus", the new king, had his son Georgios I crowned king, probably to increase his prestige, and sent him to the caliph in Baghdad to negotiate. [d] His travel drew much attention at the time. [64] The 12th century Syriac Patriarch Michael described Georgios and his retinue in some detail, writing that Georgios rode a camel, wielded a sceptre and a golden cross in his hands and that a red umbrella was carried over his head. He was accompanied by a bishop, horsemen and slaves, and to his left and right were young men wielding crosses. [65] A few months after he arrived in Baghdad Georgios I, who was described as educated and well-mannered, managed to convince the caliph of remitting the Nubian debts and reducing the Baqt payments to a 3-year rhythm. [66] In 836 [67] or early 837 [68] he had returned to Nubia. After his return a new church was built in Dongola, the Cruciform Church, which had an approximate height of 28m and came to be the largest building in the entire kingdom. [69] A new palace, the so-called Throne Hall of Dongola, was also built, [70] showing strong Byzantine influences. [71]

In 831 a punitive campaign of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutasim defeated the Beja east of Nubia. As a result, they had to submit to the Caliph, thus expanding nominal Muslim authority over much of the Sudanese Eastern Desert. [72] In 834 al-Mutasim ordered that the Egyptian Arab Bedouins, who had been declining as a military force since the rise of the Abbasids, were not to receive any more payments. Discontented and dispossessed, they pushed southwards. The road into Nubia was, however, blocked by Makuria: while there existed communities of Arab settlers in Lower Nubia the great mass of the Arab nomads was forced to settle among the Beja, [73] driven also by the motivation to exploit the local gold mines. [74] In the mid-9th century the Arab adventurer al-Umari hired a private army and settled at a mine near Abu Hamad in eastern Makuria. After a confrontation between both parties, al-Umari occupied Makurian territories along the Nile. [75] King Georgios I sent an elite force [76] commanded by his son in law, Nyuti, [77] but he failed to defeat the Arabs and rebelled against the crown himself. King Georgios then sent his oldest son, presumably the later Georgios II, but he was abandoned by his army and was forced to flee to Alodia. The Makurian king then sent another son, Zacharias, who worked together with al-Umari to kill Nyuti before eventually defeating al-Umari himself and pushing him into the desert. [76] Afterward, al-Umari attempted to establish himself in Lower Nubia, but was soon pushed out again before finally being murdered during the reign of the Tulunid Sultan Ahmad ibn Tulun (868-884). [78]

During the rule of the Ikhshidid dynasty, relations between Makuria and Egypt worsened: in 951 a Makurian army marched against Egypt's Kharga Oasis, killing and enslaving many people. [79] Five years later the Makurians attacked Aswan, but were subsequently chased as far south as Qasr Ibrim. A new Makurian attack on Aswan followed immediately, which was answered by another Egyptian retaliation, this time capturing Qasr Ibrim. [80] This did not put a hold on Makurian aggression and in 962–964 they again attacked, this time pushing as far north as Akhmim. [81] Parts of Upper Egypt apparently remained occupied by Makuria for several years. [82] [83] Ikhshidid Egypt eventually fell in 969, when it was conquered by the Shiite Fatimids. Immediately afterward they sent the emissary Ibn Selim el-Aswani to the Makurian king Georgios III. [84] Georgios accepted the first request of the emissary, the resumption of the Baqt, but declined the second one, the conversion to Islam, after a lengthy discussion with his bishops and learned men and instead invited the Fatimid governor to embrace Christianity. Afterward, he granted al-Aswani to celebrate Eid al-Adha outside of Dongola with drums and trumpets, though not without the discontent of some of his subjects. [85] Relations between Makuria and Fatmid Egypt were to remain peaceful, as the Fatimids needed the Nubians as allies against their Sunni enemies. [84]

The kingdom of Makuria was, at least temporarily, exercising influence over the Nubian-speaking populations of Kordofan, the region between the Nile Valley and Darfur, as is suggested by an account of the 10th century traveller Ibn Hawqal as well as oral traditions. [88] With the southern Nubian kingdom of Alodia, with which Makuria shared its border somewhere between Abu Hamad and the Nile-Atbara confluence, [89] Makuria seemed to have maintained a dynastic union, as according to the accounts of Arab geographers from the 10th century [90] and Nubian sources from the 12th century. [91] Archaeological evidence shows an increased Makurian influence on Alodian art and architecture from the 8th century. [92] Meanwhile, evidence for contact with Christian Ethiopia is surprisingly scarce. [93] [94] An exceptional case [95] was the mediation of Georgios III between Patriarch Philotheos and some Ethiopian monarch, [96] perhaps the late Aksumite emperor Anbessa Wudem or his successor Dil Ne’ad. [97] Ethiopian monks travelled through Nubia to reach Jerusalem, [98] a graffito from the church of Sonqi Tino testifies its visit by an Ethiopian abuna. [99] Such travellers also transmitted knowledge of Nubian architecture, which influenced several medieval Ethiopian churches. [60]

During the second half of the 11th century, Makuria saw great cultural and religious reforms, referred to as "Nubization". The main initiator has been suggested to have been Georgios, the archbishop of Dongola and hence the head of the Makurian church. [100] He seems to have popularized the Nubian language as written language to counter the growing influence of Arabic in the Coptic Church [101] and introduced the cult of dead rulers and bishops as well as indigenous Nubian saints. A new, unique church was built in Banganarti, probably becoming one of the most important ones in the entire kingdom. [102] In the same period Makuria also began to adopt a new royal dress [103] and regalia and perhaps also Nubian terminology in administration and titles, all suggested to have initially come from Alodia in the south. [101] [104]

Decline (12th century–1365) Edit

In 1171 Saladin overthrew the Fatimid dynasty, which signaled new hostilities between Egypt and Nubia. [83] The following year, [105] a Makurian army pillaged Aswan and advanced even further north. It is not clear if this campaign was intended to aid the Fatimids or was merely a raid [83] exploiting the unstable situation in Egypt, [106] although the latter seems more likely, as the Makurians apparently soon withdrew. [107] To deal with the Nubians, Saladin sent his brother Turan-Shah. The latter conquered Qasr Ibrim in January 1173, [108] reportedly sacking it, taking many prisoners, pillaging the church and converting it into a mosque. [109] Afterward, he sent an emissary to the Makurian king, Moses Georgios, [110] intending to answer a previously requested peace treaty with a pair of arrows. [111] Probably ruling over both Makuria and Alodia, [91] Moses Georgios was a man confident in his ability to resist the Egyptians, stamping with hot iron a cross on the emissary's hand. [110] Turan Shah withdrew from Nubia but left a detachment of Kurdish troops in Qasr Ibrim, which would raid Lower Nubia for the next two years. Archaeological evidence links them with the destruction of the cathedral of Faras, [112] Abdallah Nirqi [113] and Debeira West. [114] In 1175 a Nubian army finally arrived to confront the invaders at Adindan. Before battle, however, the Kurdish commander drowned while crossing the Nile, resulting in the retreat of Saladin's troops out of Nubia. [112] Afterwards there was peace for another 100 years. [83]

There are no records from travelers to Makuria from 1172 to 1268, [115] and the events of this period have long been a mystery, although modern discoveries have shed some light on this era. During this period Makuria seems to have entered a steep decline. The best source on this is Ibn Khaldun, writing in the 14th century, who blamed it on Bedouin invasions similar to what the Mamluks were dealing with. Other factors for the decline of Nubia might have been the change of African trade routes [116] and a severe dry period between 1150 and 1500. [117]

Matters would change with the rise of the Mamluks and Sultan Baybars in 1260. [118] In 1265 a Mamluk army allegedly raided Makuria as far south as Dongola [119] while also expanding southwards along the African Red Sea coast, thus threatening the Nubians. [120] In 1272 king David marched east and attacked the port town of Aidhab, [121] located on an important pilgrimage route to Mecca. The Nubian army destroyed the town, causing “a blow to the very heart of Islam”. [122] A punitive Mamluk expedition was sent in response, but did not pass beyond the second cataract. [123] Three years later the Makurians attacked and destroyed Aswan, [121] but this time Mamluk Sultan Baybars responded with a well-equipped army setting off from Cairo in early 1276, [122] accompanied by a cousin of king David named Mashkouda [124] or Shekanda. [125] The Mamluks defeated the Nubians in three battles at Jebel Adda, Meinarti and finally Dongola. David fled upstream the Nile, eventually entering al-Abwab in the south, [126] which, previously being Alodia's northernmost province, had by this period apparently become a kingdom of its own. [127] The king of al-Abwab, however, handed David over to Baybars, who had him executed. [128]

Thanks to the crusades, [133] western Europe grew increasingly aware of the existence of Christian Nubia during the 12th and 13th centuries until in the early 14th century, there were even proposals to ally with the Nubians for another crusade against the Mamluks. [134] Nubian characters also start to be featured in crusader songs, first displayed as Muslims and later, after the 12th century and with increasing knowledge of Nubia, as Christians. [135] Contacts between crusaders and western pilgrims on the one side and Nubians on the other occurred in Jerusalem, [133] where European accounts from the 12th-14th centuries attest the existence of a Nubian community, [136] and also, if not primarily in Egypt, where many Nubians were living [137] and where European merchants were highly active. [138] Perhaps there also existed a Nubian community in crusader-controlled Famagusta, Cyprus. [139] In the mid-14th century pilgrim Niccolò da Poggibonsi claimed that the Nubians had sympathies for the Latins and hence the Mamluk Sultan did not allow Latins to travel to Nubia as he was afraid that they might ignite the Nubians to war, [140] although in the contemporary Book of Knowledge of All Kingdoms it was written that Genoese traders were present in Dongola. [141] In Qasr Ibrim there was found a text apparently mixing Nubian with Italian [142] as well as a Catalan playing card, [143] and in Banganarti there has been noted an inscription written in Provencal dating to the second half of the 13th century/14th century. [144]

Internal difficulties seem to have also hurt the kingdom. King David's cousin Shekanda claimed the throne and traveled to Cairo to seek the support of the Mamelukes. They agreed and took over Nubia in 1276, and placed Shekanda on the throne. The Christian Shekanda then signed an agreement making Makuria a vassal of Egypt, and a Mamluke garrison was stationed in Dongola. A few years later, Shamamun, another member of the Makurian royal family, led a rebellion against Shekanda to restore Makurian independence. He eventually defeated the Mamluk garrison and took the throne in 1286 after separating from Egypt and betraying the peace deal. He offered the Egyptians an increase in the annual Baqt payments in return for scrapping the obligations to which Shekanda had agreed. The Mamluke armies were occupied elsewhere, and the Sultan of Egypt agreed to this new arrangement. [ citation needed ]

After a period of peace, King Karanbas defaulted on these payments, and the Mamluks again occupied the kingdom in 1312. This time, a Muslim member of the Makurian dynasty was placed on the throne. Sayf al-Din Abdullah Barshambu began converting the nation to Islam and in 1317 the throne hall of Dongola was turned into a mosque. This was not accepted by other Makurian leaders and the nation fell into civil war and anarchy that very year. Barshambu was eventually killed and succeeded by Kanz ad-Dawla. While ruling, his tribe, the Banu Khanz, acted a puppet dynasty of the Mamluks. [145] The already mentioned king Keranbes tried to wrestle control from Kanz ad-Dwala in 1323 and eventually seized Dongola, but was ousted just one year later. He retreated to Aswan for another chance to seize the throne, but it never came. [146]

The ascension of the Muslim king Abdallah Barshambu and his transformation of the throne hall into a mosque has often been interpreted as the end of Christian Makuria. This is conclusion is erroneous, since Christianity evidently remained vital in Nubia. [147] While not much is known about the following decades, it seems that there were both Muslim and Christian kings on the Makurian throne. Both the traveller Ibn Battuta and the Egyptian historian Shihab al-Umari claim that the contemporary Makurian kings were Muslims belonging to the Banu Khanz, while the general population remained Christian. Al-Umari also points out that Makuria was still dependent on the Mamluk Sultan. [148] On the other hand, he also remarks that the Makurian throne was seized in turns by Muslims and Christians. [149] Indeed, an Ethiopian monk who travelled through Nubia in around 1330, Gadla Ewostatewos, states that the Nubian king, which he claims to have met in person, was Christian. [150] In the Book of Knowledge of All Kingdoms, which relies on an anonymous traveller from the mid-14th century, it is claimed that the "Kingdom of Dongola" was inhabited by Christians and that its royal banner was a cross on white background (see flag). [141] Epigraphical evidence reveals the names of three Makurian kings: Siti and Abdallah Kanz ad-Dawla, both ruling during the 1330s, and Paper, who is dated to the mid 14th century. [151] The attestations of Siti's reign, all Nubian in nature, show that he still exercised control/influence over a vast territory from Lower Nubia to Kordofan, [152] suggesting that his kingdom entered the second half of the 14th century centralized, powerful and Christian. [153]

It was also in the mid 14th century, more particular after 1347, when Nubia would have been devastated by the plague. Archaeology confirms a rapid decline of the Christian Nubian civilization since then. Due to the in general rather small population the plague might have cleansed entire landscapes from its Nubian inhabitants. [154]

In 1365, there occurred yet another short, but disastrous civil war. The current king was killed in battle by his rebelling nephew, who had allied himself with the Banu Ja'd tribe. The brother of the murdered king and his retinue fled to a town called Daw in the Arabic sources, most likely identical with Addo in Lower Nubia. [155] The usurper then killed the nobility of the Banu Ja'd, probably because he could not trust them anymore, and destroyed and pillaged Dongola, just to travel to Daw and ask his uncle for forgiveness afterward. Thus Dongola was left to the Banu Ja'd and Addo became the new capital. [156]

Terminal period (1365–late 15th century) Edit

The Makurian rump state Edit

Both the usurper and the rightful heir, and most likely even the king that was killed during the usurpation, were Christian. [157] Now residing in Addo, the Makurian kings continued their Christian traditions. [158] They ruled over a reduced rump state with a confirmed north-south extension of around 100 km, albeit it might have been larger in reality. [159] Located in such a strategically irrelevant periphery, the Mamluks left the kingdom alone. [158] In the sources this kingdom appears as Dotawo. Until recently it was commonly assumed that Dotawo was, before the Makurian court shifted its seat to Addo, just a vasal kingdom of Makuria, but it is now accepted that it was merely the Old Nubian self-designation for Makuria. [160]

The last known king is Joel, who is mentioned in a 1463 document and in an inscription from 1484. Perhaps it was under Joel when the kingdom witnessed a last, brief renaissance. [161] After the death or deposition of king Joel the kingdom might have collapsed. [162] The cathedral of Faras came out of use after the 15th century, just as Qasr Ibrim was abandoned by the late 15th century. [127] The palace of Addo came out of use after the 15th century as well. [159] In 1518, there is one last mention of a Nubian ruler, albeit it is unknown where he resided and if he was Christian or Muslim. [163] There were no traces of an independent Christian kingdom when the Ottomans occupied Lower Nubia in the 1560s, [162] while the Funj had come into possession of Upper Nubia south of the third cataract.

Further developments Edit

Political Edit

By the early 15th century, there is mention of a king of Dongola, most likely independent from the influence of the Egyptian sultans. Friday prayers held in Dongola failed to mention them as well. [164] These new kings of Dongola were probably confronted with waves of Arab migrations and thus were too weak to conquer the Makurian splinter state of Lower Nubia. [165]

It is possible that some petty kingdoms that continued the Christian Nubian culture developed in the former Makurian territory, like for example on Mograt island, north of Abu Hamed. [166] Another small kingdom would have been the Kingdom of Kokka, founded perhaps in the 17th century in the no-mans-land between the Ottoman Empire in the north and the Funj in the south. Its organization and rituals bore clear similarities to those of Christian times. [167] Eventually the kings themselves were Christians until the 18th century. [168]

In 1412, the Awlad Kenz took control of Nubia and part of Egypt above the Thebaid.

Ethnographic and linguistic Edit

The Nubians upstream of Al Dabbah started to assume an Arabic identity and the Arabic language, eventually becoming the Ja'alin, claimed descendants of Abbas, uncle of Muhammad. [169] The Ja'alin were already mentioned by David Reubeni, who travelled through Nubia in the early 16th century. [170] They are now divided into several sub-tribes, which are, from Al Dabbah to the conjunction of the Blue and White Nile: Shaiqiya, Rubatab, Manasir, Mirafab and the "Ja'alin proper". [171] Among them, Nubian remained a spoken language until the 19th century. [170] North of the Al Dabbah developed three Nubian sub-groups: The Kenzi, who, before the completion of the Aswan Dam, lived between Aswan and Maharraqa, the Mahasi, who settled between Maharraqa and Kerma and the Danagla, the southernmost of the remaining Nile Valley Nubians. Some count the Danagla to the Ja'alin, since the Danagla also claim to belong to that Arab tribe, but they in fact still speak a Nubian language, Dongolawi. [172] North Kordofan, which was still a part of Makuria as late as the 1330s, [173] also underwent a linguistic Arabization similar to the Nile Valley upstream of Al Dabbah. Historical and linguistic evidence confirms that the locals were predominantly Nubian-speaking until the 19th century, with a language closely related to the Nile-Nubian dialects. [174]

Today, the Nubian language is in the process of being replaced by Arabic. [175] Furthermore, the Nubians increasingly start to claim to be Arabs descending from Abbas, thus disregarding their Christian Nubian past. [176]

Christian Nubia was long considered something of a backwater, mainly because its graves were small and lacking the grave goods of previous eras. [177] Modern scholars realize that this was due to cultural reasons, and that the Makurians actually had a rich and vibrant art and culture.

Languages Edit

Four languages were used in Makuria: Nubian, Coptic, Greek and Arabic. [178] Nubian was represented by two dialects, with Nobiin being said to have been spoken in the Nobadia province in the north and Dongolawi in the Makurian heartland, [179] although in the Islamic period Nobiin is also attested to have been employed by the Shaigiya tribe in the southeastern Dongola Reach. [180] The royal court employed Nobiin despite being located in Dongolawi-speaking territory. By the eight century Nobiin had been codified based on the Coptic alphabet, [181] but it was not until the 11th century when Nobiin had established itself as language of administrative, economic and religious documents. [182] The rise of Nobiin overlapped with the decline of the Coptic language in both Makuria and Egypt. [183] It has been suggested that before the rise of Nobiin as literary language, Coptic served as official administrative language, but this seems doubtful Coptic literary remains are virtually absent in the Makurian heartland. [184] In Nobadia, however, Coptic was fairly widespread, [185] probably even serving as a lingua franca. [183] Coptic also served as the language of communication with Egypt and the Coptic Church. Coptic refugees escaping Islamic persecution settled in Makuria, while Nubian priests and bishops would have studied in Egyptian monasteries. [186] Greek, the third language, was of great prestige and used in religious context, but does not seem to have been actually spoken, making it a dead language (similar to Latin in medieval Europe). [187] Lastly, Arabic was used from the 11th and 12th centuries, superseding Coptic as language of commerce and diplomatic correspondences with Egypt. Furthermore, Arab traders and settlers were present in northern Nubia, [188] although the spoken language of the latter appears to have gradually shifted from Arabic to Nubian. [189]

Arts Edit

Wallpaintings Edit

As of 2019, around 650 murals distributed over 25 sites have been recorded, [190] with more paintings still awaiting publication. [191] One of the most important discoveries of the rushed work prior to the flooding of Lower Nubia was the Cathedral of Faras. This large building had been completely filled with sand preserving a series of magnificent paintings. Similar, but less well preserved, paintings have been found at several other sites in Makuria, including palaces and private homes, giving an overall impression of Makurian art. The style and content was heavily influenced by Byzantine art, and also showed influence from Egyptian Coptic art and from Palestine. [192] Mainly religious in nature, it depicts many of the standard Christian scenes. Also illustrated are a number of Makurian kings and bishops, with noticeably darker skin than the Biblical figures.

Christ, Abu Oda (second half of the 7th century)

Saint Peter inserted into a Pharaonic painting, Wadi es-Sebua (late 7th-early 8th century)

St. Anna, Faras (8th-first half of the 9th century)

Apostle Saints Peter and John (8th-first half of the 10th century)

Warrior saint with spear and shield, Faras (9th century)

Archangel Gabriel with sword, Faras (9th-first quarter of the 10th century)

Madonna and Christ Child, Faras (10th century)

Three youths in the furnace, Faras (last quarter of the 10th century)

Theophany and bishop, Abdallah Nirqi (late 10th-early 11th century)

Magi on horseback, Faras (late 10th–early 11th century

Bishop Marianos with Madonna and Christ Child, Faras (first half of the 11th century)

Elaborate cross, Faras (11th century)

Nubian dignitary and Christ, Faras (12th century)

Baptism of Christ, Old Dongola (12th–13th century)

Warrior saint, Meinarti (late 13th-mid 14th century)

Manuscript illustrations Edit

Old Nubian manuscript from Serra East (973) showing some richly robed individual

Detail of a manuscript from Serra East showing a sitting man

Old Nubian manuscript from Qasr Ibrim showing a bishop

St. Menas and boatman on an Old Nubian manuscript found in Edfu

Pottery Edit

Nubian pottery in this period is also notable. Shinnie refers to it as the "richest indigenous pottery tradition on the African continent." Scholars divide the pottery into three eras. [193] The early period, from 550 to 650 according to Adams, or to 750 according to Shinnie, saw fairly simple pottery similar to that of the late Roman Empire. It also saw much of Nubian pottery imported from Egypt rather than produced domestically. Adams feels this trade ended with the invasion of 652 Shinnie links it to the collapse of Umayyad rule in 750. After this domestic production increased, with a major production facility at Faras. In this middle era, which lasted until around 1100, the pottery was painted with floral and zoomorphic scenes and showed distinct Umayyad and even Sassanian influences. [194] The late period during Makuria's decline saw domestic production again fall in favour of imports from Egypt. Pottery produced in Makuria became less ornate, but better control of firing temperatures allowed different colours of clay.

Role of women Edit

The Christian Nubian society was matrilineal [195] and women enjoyed a high social standing. [196] The matrilineal succession gave the queen mother and the sister of the current king as forthcoming queen mother great political relevance. [195] This importance is attested by the fact that she constantly appears in legal documents. [197] Another female political title was the asta ("daughter"), perhaps some type of provincial representative. [196]

Women had access to education [196] and there is evidence that, like in Byzantine Egypt, female scribes existed. [198] Private land tenure was open to both men and women, meaning that both could own, buy and sell land. Transfers of land from mother to daughter were common. [199] They could also be the patrons of churches and wall paintings. [200] Inscriptions from the cathedral of Faras indicate that around every second wall painting had a female sponsor. [201]

Hygiene Edit

Latrines were a common sight in Nubian domestic buildings. [202] In Dongola all houses had ceramic toilets. [203] Some houses in Cerra Matto (Serra East) featured privies with ceramic toilets, which were connected to a small chamber with a stone-lined clean out window to the outside and a brick ventilation flue. [204] Biconical pieces of clay served as the equivalent of toilet paper. [205]

One house in Dongola featured a vaulted bathroom, fed by a system of pipes attached to a water tank. [206] A furnace heated up both the water and the air, which was circulated into the richly decorated bathroom via flues in the walls. [67] The monastic complex of Hambukol is thought to have had a room serving as a steam bath. [206] The Ghazali monastery in Wadi Abu Dom also might have featured several bathrooms. [207]

Makuria was a monarchy ruled by a king based in Dongola. The king was also considered a priest and could perform mass. How succession was decided is not clear. Early writers indicate it was from father to son. After the 11th century, however, it seems clear that Makuria was using the uncle-to-sister's-son system favoured for millennia in Kush. Shinnie speculates that the later form may have actually been used throughout, and that the early Arab writers merely misunderstood the situation and incorrectly described Makurian succession as similar to what they were used to. [208] A Coptic source from the mid 8th century refers to king Cyriacos as "orthodox Abyssinian king of Makuria" as well as "Greek king", with "Abyssinian" probably reflecting the Miaphysite Coptic church and "Greek" the Byzantine Orthodox one. [209] In 1186 king Moses Georgios called himself "king of Alodia, Makuria, Nobadia, Dalmatia [g] and Axioma." [211]

Little is known about government below the king. A wide array of officials, generally using Byzantine titles, are mentioned, but their roles are never explained. One figure who is well-known, thanks to the documents found at Qasr Ibrim, is the Eparch of Nobatia, who seems to have been the viceroy in that region after it was annexed to Makuria. The Eparch's records make clear that he was also responsible for trade and diplomacy with the Egyptians. Early records make it seem like the Eparch was appointed by the king, but later ones indicate that the position had become hereditary. [212] This office would eventually become that of the "Lord of the Horses" ruling the autonomous and then Egyptian-controlled al-Maris. [ citation needed ]

The bishops might have played a role in the governance of the state. Ibn Selim el-Aswani noted that before the king responded to his mission he met with a council of bishops. [213] El-Aswani described a highly centralized state, but other writers state that Makuria was a federation of thirteen kingdoms presided over by the great king at Dongola. [214] It is unclear what the reality was, but the Kingdom of Dotawo, prominently mentioned in the Qasr Ibrim documents, might be one of these sub-kingdoms. [215]

Kings Edit

Paganism Edit

One of the most debated issues among scholars is over the religion of Makuria. Up to the 5th century the old faith of Meroe seems to have remained strong, even while ancient Egyptian religion, its counterpart in Egypt, disappeared. In the 5th century the Nubians went so far as to launch an invasion of Egypt when the Christians there tried to turn some of the main temples into churches. [216]

Christianity Edit

Archaeological evidence in this period finds a number of Christian ornaments in Nubia, and some scholars feel that this implies that conversion from below was already taking place. Others argue that it is more likely that these reflected the faith of the manufacturers in Egypt rather than the buyers in Nubia.

Certain conversion came with a series of 6th-century missions. The Byzantine Empire dispatched an official party to try to convert the kingdoms to Chalcedonian Christianity, but Empress Theodora reportedly conspired to delay the party to allow a group of Miaphysites to arrive first. [217] John of Ephesus reports that the Monophysites successfully converted the kingdoms of Nobatia and Alodia, but that Makuria remained hostile. John of Biclarum states that Makuria then embraced the rival Byzantine Christianity. Archaeological evidence seems to point to a rapid conversion brought about by an official adoption of the new faith. Millennia-old traditions such as the building of elaborate tombs, and the burying of expensive grave goods with the dead were abandoned, and temples throughout the region seem to have been converted to churches. Churches eventually were built in virtually every town and village. [193]

After this point the exact course of Makurian Christianity is much disputed. It is clear that by ca. 710 Makuria had become officially Coptic and loyal to the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria [218] the king of Makuria became the defender of the patriarch of Alexandria, occasionally intervening militarily to protect him, as Kyriakos did in 722. This same period saw Melkite Makuria absorb the Coptic Nobatia, and historians have long wondered why the conquering state adopted the religion of its rival. It is fairly clear that Egyptian Coptic influence was far stronger in the region, and that Byzantine power was fading, and this might have played a role. Historians are also divided on whether this was the end of the Melkite/Coptic split as there is some evidence that a Melkite minority persisted until the end of the kingdom.

Church infrastructure Edit

The Makurian church was divided into seven bishoprics: Kalabsha, Qupta, Qasr Ibrim, Faras, Sai, Dongola, and Suenkur. [219] Unlike Ethiopia, it appears that no national church was established and all seven bishops reported directly to the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria. The bishops were appointed by the Patriarch, not the king, though they seem to have largely been local Nubians rather than Egyptians. [220]

Monasticism Edit

Unlike in Egypt, there is not much evidence for monasticism in Makuria. According to Adams there are only three archaeological sites that are certainly monastic. All three are fairly small and quite Coptic, leading to the possibility that they were set up by Egyptian refugees rather than indigenous Makurians. [221] Since the 10th/11th century the Nubians had their own monastery in the Egyptian Wadi El Natrun valley. [222]

Islam Edit

The Baqt guaranteed the security of Muslims travelling in Makuria, [223] but prohibited their settlement in the kingdom. The latter point was, however, not maintained: [224] Muslim migrants, probably merchants and artisans, [225] are confirmed to have settled in Lower Nubia from the 9th century and to have intermarried with the locals, thus laying the foundation for a small Muslim population [226] as far south as the Batn el-Hajar. [227] Arabic documents from Qasr Ibrim confirm that these Muslims had their own communal judiciary, [228] but still regarded the Eparch of Nobatia as their suzerain. [229] It seems likely that they had own mosques, but yet none has been identified archaeologically, [225] with a possible exception being in Jebel Adda. [224]

In Dongola, there was no larger number of Muslims until the end of the 13th century. Before that date, Muslim residents were limited to merchants and diplomats. [230] In the late 10th century, when al-Aswani came to Dongola, there was, despite being demanded in the Baqt, still no mosque he and around 60 other Muslims had to pray outside of the city. [231] It is not until 1317, with the conversion of the throne hall by Abdallah Barshambu, when a mosque is firmly attested. [232] While the Jizya, the Islamic head tax enforced on non-Muslims, was established after the Mamluk invasion of 1276 [233] and Makuria was periodically governed by Muslim kings since Abdallah Barshambu, the majority of the Nubians remained Christian. [234] The actual Islamization of Nubia began in the late 14th century, with the arrival of the first in a series of Muslim teachers propagating a rudimentary Sufi Islam. [235]

The main economic activity in Makuria was agriculture, with farmers growing several crops a year of barley, millet, and dates. The methods used were generally the same that had been used for millennia. Small plots of well irrigated land were lined along the banks of the Nile, which would be fertilized by the river's annual flooding. One important technological advance was the saqiya, an oxen-powered water wheel, that was introduced in the Roman period and helped increase yields and population density. [236] Settlement patterns indicate that land was divided into individual plots rather than as in a manorial system. The peasants lived in small villages composed of clustered houses of sun-dried brick.

Important industries included the production of pottery, based at Faras, and weaving based at Dongola. Smaller local industries include leatherworking, metalworking, and the widespread production of baskets, mats, and sandals from palm fibre. [237] Also important was the gold mined in the Red Sea Hills to the east of Makuria. [193]

Cattle was of great economic importance. Perhaps their breeding and marketing was controlled by the central administration. A great assemblage of 13th century cattle bones from Old Dongola has been linked with a mass slaughter by the invading Mamluks, who attempted to weaken the Makurian economy. [238]

Makurian trade was largely by barter as the state never adopted a currency. In the north, however, Egyptian coins were common. [1] Makurian trade with Egypt was of great importance. From Egypt a wide array of luxury and manufactured goods were imported. The main Makurian export was slaves. The slaves sent north were not from Makuria itself, but rather from further south and west in Africa. Little is known about Makurian trade and relations with other parts of Africa. There is some archaeological evidence of contacts and trade with the areas to the west, especially Kordofan. Additionally, contacts to Darfur and Kanem-Bornu seem probable, but there are only few evidences. There seem to have been important political relations between Makuria and Christian Ethiopia to the south-east. For instance, in the 10th century, Georgios II successfully intervened on behalf of the unnamed ruler at that time, and persuaded Patriarch Philotheos of Alexandria to at last ordain an abuna, or metropolitan, for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. However, there is little evidence of much other interaction between the two Christian states. [ citation needed ]

  1. ^ Theory I places that event at the time of the Sasanian invasion, theory II at the time between the first and second Arab invasion, i.e. 642 and 652, and the third at the turn of the seventh century. [27]
  2. ^ It has also been argued that the bishopric was not founded, but merely reestablished. [34]
  3. ^ Recently it has been suggested that the Arabs fought the Nubians not in Nubia, but in Upper Egypt, which remained a battle zone contested by both parties until the Arab conquest of Aswan in 652. [38]
  4. ^ Zakharias, presumably already quite powerful during the lifetime of Ioannes, was the husband of a sister of Ioannes. The matrilinear Nubian succession demanded that only the son of the king's sister could be the next king, hence making Zakharias an illegitimate king in contrast to his son Georgios. [63]
  5. ^ The claim of complete nakedness should not be taken for a fact, as it reflects an ancient stereotype. [131]
  6. ^ This might be a reference to the original three kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia, unless the author was implying the semi-autonomous status of Nobatia within Makuria. [131]
  7. ^ "Dalmatia" or "Damaltia" is probably an error for Tolmeita (ancient Ptolemais in Libya), which was a part of the patriarch of Alexandria's title: "archbishop of the great city of Alexandria and the city of Babylon (Cairo), and Nobadia, Alodia, Makuria, Dalmatia and Axioma (Axum)." It has been proposed that there was some confusion in the 1186 document between the titles of the king and the patriarch. [210]
  1. ^Welsby 2002, p. 239.
  2. ^Shinnie 1965, p. 266.
  3. ^Adams 1977, p. 257.
  4. ^Bowersock, Brown & Grabar 2000, p. 614.
  5. ^Godlewski 1991, pp. 253–256.
  6. ^ abWyzgol & El-Tayeb 2018, p. 287.
  7. ^Wyzgol & El-Tayeb 2018, Fig. 10.
  8. ^Kołosowska & El-Tayeb 2007, p. 35.
  9. ^Edwards 2004, p. 182.
  10. ^Lohwasser 2013, pp. 279–285.
  11. ^Godlewski 2014, pp. 161–162.
  12. ^Werner 2013, p. 42.
  13. ^ abGodlewski 2014, p. 161.
  14. ^Werner 2013, p. 39.
  15. ^Werner 2013, pp. 32–33.
  16. ^Rilly 2008, pp. 214–217.
  17. ^Godlewski 2013b, p. 5.
  18. ^ abGodlewski 2013b, p. 7.
  19. ^Godlewski 2013b, p. 17.
  20. ^Godlewski 2014, p. 10.
  21. ^Werner 2013, p. 43.
  22. ^Welsby 2002, pp. 31–33.
  23. ^Werner 2013, p. 58.
  24. ^ abWelsby 2002, p. 33.
  25. ^Werner 2013, pp. 58, 62-65.
  26. ^Wyzgol 2018, p. 785.
  27. ^Werner 2013, pp. 73–74.
  28. ^Werner 2013, pp. 73–77.
  29. ^ abcGodlewski 2013b, p. 90.
  30. ^Werner 2013, p. 77.
  31. ^Godlewski 2013b, p. 85.
  32. ^Werner 2013, pp. 76, note 84.
  33. ^Godlewski 2013c, p. 90. sfn error: no target: CITEREFGodlewski2013c (help)
  34. ^Werner 2013, pp. 77–78.
  35. ^Welsby 2002, p. 88.
  36. ^Werner 2013, p. 254.
  37. ^Welsby 2002, pp. 48–49.
  38. ^Bruning 2018, pp. 94–96.
  39. ^Werner 2013, pp. 66–67.
  40. ^Godlewski 2013, p. 91. sfn error: no target: CITEREFGodlewski2013 (help)
  41. ^Welsby 2002, p. 69.
  42. ^Werner 2013, p. 68.
  43. ^Werner 2013, pp. 70–72.
  44. ^Ruffini 2012, pp. 7–8.
  45. ^Werner 2013, pp. 73, 71.
  46. ^Ruffini 2012, p. 7.
  47. ^Welsby 2002, p. 68.
  48. ^Werner 2013, p. 70.
  49. ^ abcWelsby 2002, p. 73.
  50. ^Werner 2013, p. 82.
  51. ^Obłuski 2019, p. 310.
  52. ^Werner 2013, p. 83.
  53. ^ abcWerner 2013, p. 84.
  54. ^Adams 1977, p. 454.
  55. ^Hasan 1967, p. 29.
  56. ^Shinnie 1971, p. 45.
  57. ^Werner 2013, p. 86, note 37.
  58. ^Smidt 2005, p. 128.
  59. ^Godlewski 2013b, pp. 11, 39.
  60. ^ abFritsch 2018, pp. 290–291.
  61. ^Godlewski 2002, p. 75.
  62. ^Werner 2013, p. 88.
  63. ^Godlewski 2002, pp. 76–77.
  64. ^Werner 2013, p. 89.
  65. ^Vantini 1975, p. 318.
  66. ^Werner 2013, pp. 89–91.
  67. ^ abGodlewski 2013a, p. 11.
  68. ^Werner 2013, p. 91.
  69. ^Godlewski 2013b, p. 11.
  70. ^Obłuski et al. 2013, Table 1.
  71. ^Godlewski 2013b, p. 12.
  72. ^Adams 1977, pp. 553–554.
  73. ^Adams 1977, pp. 552–553.
  74. ^Godlewski 2002, p. 84.
  75. ^Werner 2013, pp. 94–95, note 50.
  76. ^ abGodlewski 2002, p. 85.
  77. ^Werner 2013, p. 95.
  78. ^Werner 2013, p. 96.
  79. ^Hasan 1967, p. 91.
  80. ^Werner 2013, pp. 99–100, notes 16 and 17.
  81. ^Werner 2013, p. 101.
  82. ^ Lobban, Richard A. (2003-12-09). Historical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval Nubia. Scarecrow Press. ISBN978-0-8108-6578-5 .
  83. ^ abcdAdams 1977, p. 456.
  84. ^ abWerner 2013, p. 102.
  85. ^Hasan 1967, p. 92.
  86. ^Lepage & Mercier 2005, pp. 120–121.
  87. ^Chojnacki 2005, p. 184.
  88. ^Hesse 2002, pp. 18, 23.
  89. ^Welsby 2014, pp. 187–188.
  90. ^Welsby 2002, p. 89.
  91. ^ abLajtar 2009, pp. 93–94.
  92. ^Danys & Zielinska 2017, pp. 182–184. sfn error: no target: CITEREFDanysZielinska2017 (help)
  93. ^Lajtar & Ochala 2017, p. 264.
  94. ^Welsby 2002, pp. 214–215.
  95. ^Hendrickx 2018, p. 1, note 1.
  96. ^Werner 2013, p. 103.
  97. ^Hendrickx 2018, p. 17.
  98. ^Obłuski 2019, p. 126.
  99. ^Lajtar & Ochala 2017, pp. 262–264.
  100. ^Godlewski 2013a, pp. 671, 672.
  101. ^ abGodlewski 2013a, p. 669.
  102. ^Godlewski 2013a, pp. 672–674.
  103. ^Wozniak 2014, pp. 939–940.
  104. ^Wozniak 2014, p. 940.
  105. ^Welsby 2002, p. 75.
  106. ^Plumley 1983, p. 162. sfn error: no target: CITEREFPlumley1983 (help)
  107. ^Ruffini 2012, pp. 249–250.
  108. ^Werner 2013, p. 113.
  109. ^Plumley 1983, pp. 162–163. sfn error: no target: CITEREFPlumley1983 (help)
  110. ^ abRuffini 2012, p. 248.
  111. ^Welsby 2002, p. 76.
  112. ^ abPlumley 1983, p. 164. sfn error: no target: CITEREFPlumley1983 (help)
  113. ^Welsby 2002, p. 124.
  114. ^INSERT SOURCE. sfn error: no target: CITEREFINSERT_SOURCE (help)
  115. ^Adams 1977, p. 522.
  116. ^Grajetzki 2009, pp. 121–122.
  117. ^Zurawski 2014, p. 84.
  118. ^Werner 2013, p. 117.
  119. ^Werner 2013, p. 117, note 16.
  120. ^Gazda 2005, p. 93.
  121. ^ abWerner 2013, p. 118.
  122. ^ abGazda 2005, p. 95.
  123. ^Seignobos 2016, p. 554. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFSeignobos2016 (help)
  124. ^Seignobos 2016, p. 554, note 2. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFSeignobos2016 (help)
  125. ^Welsby 2002, p. 244.
  126. ^Werner 2013, pp. 120–122.
  127. ^ abWelsby 2002, p. 254.
  128. ^Werner 2013, pp. 122–123.
  129. ^von den Brincken 2014, pp. 45, 49-50.
  130. ^von den Brincken 2014, p. 48.
  131. ^ abSeignobos 2014, p. 1000.
  132. ^Seignobos 2014, pp. 999–1000.
  133. ^ abŁajtar & Płóciennik 2011, p. 110.
  134. ^Seignobos 2012, pp. 307–311.
  135. ^Simmons 2019, pp. 35–46.
  136. ^Werner 2013, p. 128.
  137. ^Łajtar & Płóciennik 2011, p. 111.
  138. ^Łajtar & Płóciennik 2011, pp. 114–116.
  139. ^Borowski 2019, pp. 103–106.
  140. ^Werner 2013, p. 133.
  141. ^ abWerner 2013, pp. 134–135.
  142. ^Ruffini 2012, pp. 162–263.
  143. ^Borowski 2019, p. 106.
  144. ^Łajtar & Płóciennik 2011, p. 43.
  145. ^O'Fahey & Spaulding 1974, p. 17.
  146. ^Welsby 2002, p. 248.
  147. ^Werner 2013, p. 138.
  148. ^Werner 2013, pp. 139–140, note 25.
  149. ^Zurawski 2014, p. 82.
  150. ^Werner 2013, p. 140.
  151. ^Werner 2013, pp. 140–141.
  152. ^Ochala 2011, pp. 154–155.
  153. ^Ruffini 2012, pp. 253–254.
  154. ^Werner 2013, pp. 141–143.
  155. ^Welsby 2002, pp. 248–250.
  156. ^Werner 2013, pp. 143–144.
  157. ^Werner 2013, p. 144.
  158. ^ abWelsby 2002, p. 253.
  159. ^ abWerner 2013, p. 145.
  160. ^Ruffini 2012, p. 9.
  161. ^Lajtar 2011, pp. 130–131.
  162. ^ abRuffini 2012, p. 256.
  163. ^Werner 2013, p. 149.
  164. ^Zurawksi 2014, p. 85. sfn error: no target: CITEREFZurawksi2014 (help)
  165. ^Adams 1977, p. 536.
  166. ^Werner 2013, p. 150.
  167. ^Werner 2013, pp. 148, 157, note 68.
  168. ^Welsby 2002, p. 256.
  169. ^Adams 1977, pp. 557–558.
  170. ^ abO'Fahey & Spaulding 1974, p. 29.
  171. ^Adams 1977, p. 562.
  172. ^Adams 1977, pp. 559–560.
  173. ^Ochala 2011, p. 154.
  174. ^Hesse 2002, p. 21.
  175. ^Werner 2013, p. 188, note 26.
  176. ^Werner 2013, p. 26, note 44.
  177. ^Adams 1977, p. 495.
  178. ^Welsby 2002, pp. 236–239.
  179. ^Werner 2013, p. 186.
  180. ^Bechhaus-Gerst 1996, pp. 25–26.
  181. ^Werner 2013, p. 187.
  182. ^Ochala 2014, p. 36.
  183. ^ abOchala 2014, p. 41.
  184. ^Ochala 2014, pp. 36–37.
  185. ^Ochala 2014, p. 37.
  186. ^Werner 2013, pp. 193–194.
  187. ^Ochala 2014, pp. 43–44.
  188. ^Werner 2013, p. 196.
  189. ^Seignobos 2010, p. 14.
  190. ^Zielinska & Tsakos 2019, p. 80.
  191. ^Zielinska & Tsakos 2019, p. 93.
  192. ^Godlewski 1991, pp. 255–256.
  193. ^ abcShinnie 1965, p. ?.
  194. ^Shinnie 1978, p. 570.
  195. ^ abWerner 2013, p. 248.
  196. ^ abcWerner 2013, p. 344.
  197. ^Ruffini 2012, p. 243.
  198. ^Ruffini 2012, pp. 237–238.
  199. ^Ruffini 2012, pp. 236–237.
  200. ^Werner 2013, pp. 344–345.
  201. ^Ruffini 2012, p. 235.
  202. ^Welsby 2002, pp. 170–171.
  203. ^Godlewski 2013a, p. 97.
  204. ^2015 et al., p. 135. sfn error: no target: CITEREF2015WilliamsHeidornTsakos (help)
  205. ^Welsby 2002, pp. 171–172.
  206. ^ abWelsby 2002, p. 172.
  207. ^Obłuski 2017, p. 373.
  208. ^Shinnie 1978, p. 581.
  209. ^Greisiger 2007, p. 204.
  210. ^Hagen 2009, p. 117.
  211. ^Werner 2013, p. 243.
  212. ^Adams 1991, p. 258.
  213. ^Jakbielski 1992, p. 211. sfn error: no target: CITEREFJakbielski1992 (help)
  214. ^Zabkar 1963, p. ?.
  215. ^Adams 1991, p. 259.
  216. ^Adams 1977, p. 440.
  217. ^Adams 1977, p. 441.
  218. ^Information on Medieval Nubia
  219. ^Shinnie 1978, p. 583.
  220. ^Adams 1977, p. 472.
  221. ^Adams 1977, p. 478.
  222. ^al-Suriany 2013, p. 257.
  223. ^Godlewski 2013b, p. 101.
  224. ^ abWelsby 2002, p. 106.
  225. ^ abAdams 1977, p. 468.
  226. ^Werner 2013, p. 155.
  227. ^Seignobos 2010, pp. 15–16.
  228. ^Khan 2013, p. 147.
  229. ^Welsby 2002, p. 107.
  230. ^Godlewski 2013, p. 117. sfn error: no target: CITEREFGodlewski2013 (help)
  231. ^Holt 2011, p. 16.
  232. ^Werner 2013, p. 71, note 44.
  233. ^Werner 2013, pp. 121–122.
  234. ^Werner 2013, pp. 137–140.
  235. ^Werner 2013, pp. 155–156.
  236. ^Shinnie 1978, p. 556.
  237. ^Jakobielski 1992, p. 207.
  238. ^Osypinska 2015, p. 269.
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How to Take a Nile River and Lake Nasser Cruise to Abu Simbel and Nubia

  • OVERVIEW: Though previous Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011, political demonstrations and violent clashes continue sporadically throughout Egypt. Egypt’s presidential elections will take place on May 23 and 24, 2012 and a new president is scheduled to take office by June 30, 2012. In addition, two American tourists were kidnapped in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in February 2012 (though they were released after six hours). With that in mind, it’s mostly business as usual in Egypt now — except that travelers can get great deals on hotels and tourist services due to the current lack of demand. Also, you won’t find yourself standing in line for anything.
  • LOGISTICS: We arranged for a guided tour of Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, and Nubia, much of which was on boat trips on the Nile River and Lake Nasser, through Viking River Cruises. Though our $3,000-per-person packaged arrangement (the Pharaohs & Pyramids tour) was overpriced — the quality of the food and staterooms on our boats were not up to modern luxury standards and our tour guide functioned more like a cattle herder than a captivating Egyptologist — the trip’s logistics unfolded impressively flawlessly, and we managed to see almost all of the best sites in Egypt in an impressive 12 days. Nevertheless, if you’re adventurous enough to travel to Egypt independently, you can easily save money by negotiating prices as you go and staying in less expensive accommodations. Independent travelers in Aswan and Luxor have been known to negotiate rock-bottom prices for Nile River and Lake Nasser cruises with some effort.


Parents and early life Edit

Ramesses VI was a son of Ramesses III, [4] the latter being considered the last great pharaoh of the New Kingdom period. [5] This filiation is established beyond doubt by a large relief found in the portico [4] of the Medinet Habu temple of Ramesses III known as the "Procession of the Princes". [6] [7] The relief shows ten princes including Ramesses VI, [8] worshipping their father. [9] Ramesses III's sculptors seem to have left the relief incomplete only the figures of the king and princes appear and no names are written in the spaces next to them. [note 2] [9] The relief seems to have originally been executed when Ramesses VI was still a young prince, as he is shown wearing the sidelock of youth used to denote childhood. When Ramesses VI became king, he added his princely names "Ramesses Amunherkhepeshef" [note 3] inside royal cartouches as well as the titles he held before ascending the throne as "king's son of his body, his beloved, crown prince, royal scribe [and] cavalry general". [10] He altered his youthful figure on the "Procession of the Princes" with an uraeus underscoring his royal status and further completed the relief with the names of all his brothers and sons, with the exception of Ramesses IV, who had already written his royal name on the relief. [7] [11]

Speculation in Egyptology during the 1960s and 1970s concerning the chronology and genealogy of the Twentieth Dynasty as well as uncertainties affecting the identity of the king shown on the "Procession of princes" relief led some scholars to propose that Ramesses VI was a grandson of Ramesses III and the son either of an unknown prince [12] or of the infamous Pentawer involved in the murder of Ramesses III. [13] Such hypotheses have now been conclusively rejected and the relief is understood to mean exactly what it shows: that Ramesses VI was the son of Ramesses III. [note 4] [16] Ramesses VI's mother was probably Iset Ta-Hemdjert, Ramesses III's Great Royal Wife, as suggested by the presence of Ramesses VI's cartouches on a door-jamb of her tomb in the Valley of the Queens. [17]

Consort and children Edit

Ramesses VI's Great Royal Wife was queen Nubkhesbed. [18] The Egyptologists Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton believe that she bore Ramesses VI a total of four children: the princes Amenherkhepshef, Panebenkemyt [note 5] and Ramesses Itamun—the future pharaoh Ramesses VII who succeeded his father for a short while on the throne—and princess Iset who was appointed to the priestly role of "Divine Adoratrice of Amun". [19] A stela recounting this appointment was discovered in Koptos and demonstrates that Nubkhesbed was indeed Iset's mother. [20]

Prince Amenherkhepshef died before his father and was buried in tomb KV13 in the Valley of the Kings, originally built for Chancellor Bay, an important official of the late Nineteenth Dynasty. The tomb decoration was updated in consequence, some reliefs notably mentioning Nubkhesbed. [18] Amenherkhepshef's sarcophagus was usurped from queen Twosret. [18]

The filiation of Ramesses VII is established by an inscription on a doorjamb from Deir el-Medinaeh which reads "the good god, lord of the two lands, Usimaare-meryamun-setepenre, Son of Re, lord of epiphanies, Ramesses [VII], (It)-Amun, god, ruler of Heliopolis—he has made as his monument for his father, (may) live the good god, lord of the two lands, Nebmaare-meryamun, Son of Re, [Ramesses VI]". [21]

The Egyptologists James Harris, Edward F. Wente and Kenneth Kitchen have also proposed, based on circumstantial evidence, that Ramesses IX was a son of Ramesses VI and thus a brother to Ramesses VII. [22] They note that Ramesses IX honoured Ramesses VII on two offering stands, [23] suggesting that they were close kin. Ramesses IX named one of his sons Nebmaatre, which is Ramesses VI's prenomen, possibly as a means to honour his father. [note 6] [24] This hypothesis is contested by other scholars including Dodson and Hilton, who believe that Ramesses IX was instead a son of prince Montuherkhopshef and thus a nephew to Ramesses VI. They base their conclusion on other circumstantial evidence: first is a depiction of Montuherkhopshef in KV19 on which Ramesses IX's prenomen had been added. [26] Second is the fact that Ramesses IX's mother was named Takhat and Montuherkhopshef's spouse might have been a lady of the same name, hence possibly the same person. [27]

Reign length Edit

The scholarly consensus is now that Ramesses VI reigned in the mid 12th century BC over a period of eight full years and lived for two months into his brief last regnal year. More precisely, the Egyptologist Steve Vinson proposed that he reigned between 1156 BC and 1149 BC, [28] while the Encyclopædia Britannica reports 1145–1137 BC, [29] Jürgen von Beckerath gives 1142–1134 BC, [30] Erik Hornung 1145–1139 BC, [31] Nicolas Grimal 1144–1136 BC making him a contemporary of Nebuchadrezzar I of Isin, [32] [33] Ian Shaw, Jacobus van Dijk and Michael Rice 1143–1136 BC, [34] [35] [36] and 1132–1125 BC in a 2017 study. [37]

In 1977, the Egyptologists Wente and Charles van Siclen were the first to propose, upon reviewing the chronology of the New Kingdom period, that Ramesses VI lived into his eighth year of reign. [38] This hypothesis was vindicated the next year by the Egyptologist Jac Janssen, who published an analysis of an ostracon [note 7] which mentions the loan of an ox in the seventh and eighth years of an unnamed king who can only have been Ramesses VI. [note 8] [39] Two years later, Lanny Bell reported further evidence that Ramesses VI not only reigned into his eighth regnal year but most likely completed it and lived into his ninth. [40] Ramesses VI's eighth year on the throne may also be mentioned in Theban graffito 1860a, which names the then serving High Priest of Amun, Ramessesnakht. This graffito has also been ascribed to Ramesses X, [41] but this interpretation has been contested and its ascription to Ramesses VI has been proposed as an alternative. [40] The subject remains debated. [42] An important piece of evidence first recognised by Jansen in 1978 but fully exploited only five years later by the Egyptologist Raphael Ventura is found on the Turin Papyrus 1907+1908, which covers the time period from Ramesses VI's fifth year until Ramesses VII's seventh year on the throne. [43] The reconstruction of the document proposed by Ventura shows that the simplest solution available to explain the chronology of the period covered by the papyrus is that Ramesses VI enjoyed a reign of eight full years, died in his ninth, and was succeeded by Ramesses VII rather than Ramesses VIII, as had been debated until then. [44] [45]

Activities and situation in Egypt Edit

Early reign: strife in the Theban region Edit

Immediately after his accession to the throne, [note 9] Ramesses VI and his court may have visited Thebes on the occasion of the Beautiful Festival of the Valley or the Opet Festival, concomitant with the preparations for Ramesses V's burial. [49] Ramesses VI visited the city on at least another occasion during his reign, when he installed his daughter as Divine Adoratrice of Amun. [49] The situation in the south of Egypt at the time of Ramesses VI's accession was not entirely stable, as attested by records showing that the workmen of Deir el-Bahari could not work on the king's tomb owing to the presence of "the enemy" in the vicinity, a situation which occurred over a period of at least fifteen days during Ramesses VI's first year on the throne. [3] This "enemy" was rumoured to have pillaged and burned the locality of Per-Nebyt [note 10] and the chief of the Medjay of Thebes—essentially the police—ordered the workmen to remain idle and watch the king's tomb. [50] It is unclear who these enemies were, the term could designate parties of Libyan Meshwesh, [35] Libu and Egyptian bandits, or as the Egyptologist Jaroslav Černý conjectured, a full blown civil war between followers of Ramesses V and Ramesses VI, [note 11] [50] a hypothesis supported by Rice [36] but which has been strongly rejected by Kitchen [51] and, to a lesser extend, by Grimal and van Dijk. [4] [35] A short military campaign might have ensued and from Ramesses VI's second year on the throne onwards these troubles seem to have stopped. This campaign could be connected with an unusual [3] statue of Ramesses VI showing him holding a bound Libyan captive, [52] as well as with a depiction of Ramesses VI triumphing over foreign soldiers on the second pylon of the Karnak temple. [3] This triumph scene was the last one to be made in Egypt until the later reigns of Siamun (986–967 BC) and Shoshenq I (943–922 BC). [3]

Other indications in favour of strife and military activities early in Ramesses VI's reign are the names he adopted upon ascending the throne, his Horus name meaning "Strong bull, great of victories, keeping alive the two lands" as well as his Nebty name "Powerful of arms, attacking the myriads". [3]

Later reign Edit

Following these events, on his second year of rule, Ramesses VI finally buried Ramesses V in a yet unidentified tomb in the Valley of the Kings, [53] having usurped the tomb originally prepared for his predecessor. [3] On the occasion of this visit to Thebes, Ramesses VI installed his daughter Iset as God's Wife of Amun and Divine Adoratice of Amun, in the presence of his mother, the acting vizier Nehy and other court officials. [3] That same year, he ordered the reduction of the gang of workmen working on the king's tomb from 120 members to its former number of 60, which had been changed under Ramesses IV. [note 12] [50] [54] Following this, the community of workers at Deir el-Medina went into gradual decline, the settlement being finally abandoned in the subsequent Twenty-first Dynasty. [55] In spite of the reduction, the Turin papyrus indicates that Ramesses VI ordered the construction of six tombs in the Valley of the Queens, [56] a number which might include the hasty [57] completion of the tomb of Iset Ta-Hemdjert, Ramesses' mother. [58] It is unknown whether these tombs were finished and in any case, they are now unidentifiable. [note 13] [59] [56]

At some point in his reign, a cult statue of Ramesses VI was installed in a shrine of Ramesses II in the temple of Hathor of Deir el-Medina. [61] The statue was called "Lord of the Two Lands, Nebmaatre Meryamun, Son of Re, Lord of Crowns, Ramesses Amunherkhepeshef Divine Ruler of Iunu, Beloved like Amun". [62] A complete description of it is given on the verso of the Turin Papyrus Map, celebrated for being the oldest surviving topographical map. The papyrus indicates that the statue was made of two essences of painted wood and clay, showing pharaoh wearing a golden loincloth, a crown of lapis-lazuli and precious stones, a uraeus of gold and sandals of electrum. [62] The statue is said to receive three services of incense and libations everyday. [62] The text of the papyrus is a letter directly addressed to Ramesses VI asking that a certain man be put in charge of the offerings. [63] The letter seems to have been received favourably by the king, as the author's grandson is known to have held the title of "High Priest of Nebmaatre [Ramesses VI], Beloved of Amun". [64]

Ramesses VI was apparently fond of such cult statues [61] and no less than ten statues and a sphinx have been discovered in Tanis, Bubastis and Karnak, more than any other Ramesside king of the Twentieth Dynasty following the reign of Ramesses III. [65] The tomb of Penne, an Egyptian high-official in Nubia reports that Penne made a donation of lands to generate revenue towards the upkeep of yet another cult statue of Ramesses VI. [66] Ramesses VI was so satisfied with this deed that he commanded his Viceroy of Kush "Give the two silver vessels of ointment of gums, to the deputy [Penne]". [67] [68]

While few of Ramesses VI's activities are known in details, he is well attested by numerous reliefs, inscriptions, statues and minor finds from Karnak, Koptos and Heliopolis. [note 14] [28] [70]

Economic decline Edit

Over the period spanning the reigns of Ramesses VI, VII and VIII, prices of basic commodities, in particular grain, rose sharply. [54] [71] With Egypt's economy getting weaker, Ramesses VI turned to usurping the statues and monuments of his forebears, frequently plastering and then carving his cartouches over theirs, [72] in particular those of Ramesses IV which figured prominently along the processional routes in Karnak and Luxor. [65] [73] In other examples, he usurped a statue of Ramesses IV, [note 15] [74] columns of texts inscribed by Ramesses IV on an obelisk of Thutmose I in Karnak, and the tomb of Ramesses V. Kitchen warns not to over-interpret these usurpations as signs of antagonism on behalf of Ramesses VI with respect to his older brother and nephew. [75] The usurpations were not thorough but were rather targeted to the most prominent places, where Ramesses VI's cartouches would be most visible. [75] Besides, Ramesses VI did leave cartouches of Ramesses IV intact in many places, including in places where both his name and that of his brother feature close to one another such as in the Medinet Habu temple of Ramesses III, so that the hypothesis of a damnatio memoriae—whereby all references to someone are systematically eliminated so as to remove this person from memory and history—can be eliminated. [75]

A possible evidence for genuine architectural works on Ramesses VI's behalf is found in Memphis, where an inscription on a granite gateway cornice of the temple of Ptah claims that he erected a great pylon of fine stone. Ramesses VI then boasts of "covering all the land with great monuments in my name [. ] built in honour of my fathers the gods". [76] Overall, the Egyptologist Amin Amer characterises Ramesses VI as "a king who wished to pose as a great pharaoh in an age of unrest and decline". [77]

Dilution of power Edit

High officials Edit

Some high officials of Ramesses VI are known, such as his finance minister and overseer of the treasury Montuemtawy [note 16] who was in office since the end of Ramesses III's reign the vizier Neferronpe in office since Ramesses IV's time on the throne his son the vizier Nehy Amenmose the mayor of Thebes and the king's butler Qedren. [78] To the south, the troop commander of Kush was Nebmarenakhte [79] and the administrator of Wawat—the land between the first and second cataracts of the Nile—mayor of Anîba and controller of the Temple of Horus at Derr [80] was Penne. [79]

The dynasty of Ramessesnakht Edit

In Thebes, the high-priesthood came under the control of Ramessesnakht and his family at the time of Ramesses IV, possibly owing to Ramessesnakht's father Merybaste's high control over the country's financial institutions. [81] Ramessesnakht was officially Ramesses VI's Vizier of the South and his power grew at the expense of that of the pharaoh in spite of the fact that Iset was connected to the Amun priesthood as well "in her role as God's Wife of Amun or Divine Adoratice". [4] If fact, Ramessesnakht most likely oversaw the construction of the funerary building of Iset in the tomb complex K93.12, [82] and while, as the Egyptologist Daniel Polz puts it, "he and his relatives were the most powerful individuals in Egypt at the end of the Twentieth Dynasty", his activities were not directed against royal interests. [82] Ramessesnakht often attended the distribution of supplies to workmen and controlled much of the activity connected with the construction of the king's tomb, possibly because the treasury of the high-priest of Amun was now at least partially funding these works. Ramessesnakht's son Usermarenakhte was made into the Steward of Amun and became administrator of large swaths of land in Middle Egypt. He also inherited the role of Merybaste as controller of the country's taxes, ensuring that Ramessesnakht's family was in full control of both the royal treasury and the treasury of Amun. [83] Further high offices such as those of the second and third priests and of "god's father of Amun" were given to people who entered Ramesesnakht's family by marriage. [35]

Ramessesnakht was powerful enough to build for himself one of the largest funerary establishments of the entire Theban necropolis at the end of the New Kingdom, when royal building projects including Ramesses VI's usurped mortuary temple had been abandoned. [84] Ramessesnakht's monument, in Dra' Abu el-Naga', reused an earlier building dating back to the Seventeenth or Eighteenth Dynasty and was refurbished to show the political and economic standing of its owner. [82] Overall, Egyptologists now estimate that Ramessesnakht and his dynasty essentially established a second centre of power in Upper Egypt, seemingly on the behalf of the Twentieth Dynasty kings who ruled from Memphis and Pi-Ramesses in Lower Egypt. [82] This effectively made Thebes into the religious capital of Egypt as well as an administrative one on a par with its northern counterpart, [82] laying the foundations for the rise of the Twenty-first Dynasty under Herihor and Pinedjem I, 50 to 70 years later. [85]

Situation in Egypt's empire abroad Edit

Final decline in Canaan Edit

Egypt's political and economic decline continued unabated during Ramesses VI's reign. He is the last king of the New Kingdom period whose name is attested on inscribed wall fragments as well as two pillars of the temple of Hathor [86] of the Serabit el-Khadim in Sinai, [87] [4] where he sent expeditions to mine copper ore. [28]

Egypt may nonetheless still have wielded some sort of influence or at least still had some connections with the remnants of its empire in the Levant, [28] as suggested by the base of a fragmented bronze statue of Ramesses VI discovered in Megiddo in Canaan, [88] [89] [90] and a scarab of his from Alalakh on the coast in southern Anatolia. [note 17] [78]

Egyptian presence in Canaan was terminated during or soon after Ramesses VI's rule, [91] [92] with the last garrisons leaving southern and western Palestine around the time, [93] and the frontier between Egypt and abroad returning to a fortified line joining the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. [78] A 2017 archaeological study reached the same conclusion, namely that Ramesses VI's reign is the terminus post quem for the presence of the Egyptian military in Jaffa, which was twice destroyed around this time period. [94] Opponents of the Egyptian authority were of local extraction, probably originating in Canaanite cities of the Levantine coastal plain, [95] an opposition to Egyptian hegemony ultimately resulting from the arrival of the Sea People in the region during the reign of Ramesses III. [96] [97] The loss of all Asiatic territories further strained the redistributive economy of Egypt's New Kingdom society, depriving the subsequent kings of much of their legitimacy. [97]

Continuing presence in Nubia Edit

The Egyptian control of Nubia seems to have been much firmer at the time, owing either to the advanced Egyptianisation of the local population [98] or to the economic importance of this region. [93] Ramesses VI's cartouches have been uncovered on Sehel Island near Aswan [99] and in Ramesses II's temple in Wadi es-Sebua. [79] Ramesses VI is mentioned in the tomb of Penne in Anîba, [98] not far from the Third Cataract of the Nile. [28] Penne also recounts punitive military raids further south, from which he claims to have brought back loot to pharaoh. [68]

Tomb Edit

Ramesses VI was buried in the Valley of the Kings, in a tomb now known as KV9. [28] The tomb was first built for Ramesses V, who may have been buried in it for the short period of time necessary for another, likely undecorated tomb, to be cut for him somewhere else in the Valley of Kings [3] [51] and which remains to be discovered. [100] In any case, Ramesses VI commanded that KV9 be entirely refurbished for himself with no space left for Ramesses V's permanent burial, who was finally led to rest in Ramesses VI's second year on the throne, possibly because stability had returned to Thebes at the time. [3] [28] The usurpation of Ramesses V's tomb may be a sign that Ramesses VI did not hold his predecessor in high regard, which would explain why he had Ramesses V's name obliterated and replaced by his own on more than one occasion. [101] Alternatively it may reflect the king's pragmatic concern for economical measures. [65]

The renewed works on KV9 are responsible for the preservation of that of Tutankhamun, the entrance of which was buried beneath huts built for the craftsmen working on Ramesses VI's tomb. [102] These works seem to have been completed during Ramesses VI's sixth year of reign, at which point Ramessesnakht received 600 debens of blunted copper tools in the great forecourt of Amun in Karnak, probably indicating the end of the construction works on the tomb. [65] Furthermore, if the Theban ostracon 1860a does refer to Ramesses VI and not Ramesses X, then it indicates that the tomb was finally ready for the king in his eighth year on the throne, at which point he might have been ill and nearing death. [77] Once finished, the tomb was 104 m (341 ft)-long [103] and included one of only three complete renditions of the Book of Gates known from royal funerary context, [note 18] [104] as well as a complete version of the Book of Caverns. [104]

Within 20 years [105] of Ramesses VI's burial, the tomb was most probably desecrated and ransacked by grave robbers, who hacked away at the hands and feet of Ramesses' mummy to gain access to his jewelry. These events, occurring during the reign of Ramesses XI, [106] are described in the Papyrus Mayer B although the identification of the tomb mentioned in this source is not entirely certain. [28] Ramesses VI's mummy was subsequently moved to the tomb KV35 of Amenhotep II during the reign of Pinedjem of the early Twenty-First Dynasty, [107] where it was discovered in 1898 by Victor Loret. [108] A medical examination of the mummy revealed that Ramesses VI died aged around forty, [69] and showed severe damage to his body, the head and torso being broken into several pieces by an axe used by the tomb robbers. [45]

In 1898, Georges Émile Jules Daressy cleared KV9, which had remained opened since antiquity, uncovering fragments of a large granite box as well as numerous pieces of Ramesses VI's mummiform stone sarcophagus, the face of which is now in the British Museum. [103] The sarcophagus was restored in 2004 following two years of work on over 250 fragments recovered in the tomb, where it is now on display. Zahi Hawass, then head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, unsuccessfully requested the return of the sarcophagus' face from the British Museum to Egypt. [109]

In 2020, the Egyptian Tourism Authority released a full 3D model of the tomb with detailed photographies, available online. [110]

In April 2021 his mummy was moved from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization along with those of 17 other kings and 4 queens in an event termed the Pharaohs' Golden Parade. [111]

Mortuary temple Edit

Ramesses VI seems to have usurped the large mortuary temple in El-Assasif from Ramesses V, who had himself likely taken it from his father Ramesses IV. [78] [112] The temple was planned to be nearly half the size of that of Medinet Habu and was only in its foundation stages at the death of Ramesses IV. [89] It is unclear whether it was ever completed, but the temple is mentioned as a land-owning institution in the Wilbour Papyrus dating to Ramesses V's reign. [69] Archaeological excavations show much of its surviving decoration was made under Ramesses VI. [note 19] [113]

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