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Masters of trade, the Nubians exist at the crossroads of the world, where luxuries like incense, ivory, and ebony are exchanged under the watchful eye of skilled archers.

Even older than the Egyptian civilization, which it outlasted, the Nubian civilization developed over nearly five thousand years along the river Nile, between Sudan and Egypt, where there was a succession of powerful kingdoms.

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Although there had previously been other communities, the first Nubian kingdom only appeared between 2500 and 2000 BCE around the city of Kerma. This kingdom had a complicated relationship with its Egyptian neighbor. Invaded in around 1450 BCE by the pharaohs of the 18th dynasty, the Nubians reciprocated and invaded and conquered Egypt during the 8th century BCE. It was during this celebrated 25th dynasty that the Nubian pharaohs ruled both Nubia and Egypt for nearly a century. When the Nubians' power fell into decline, they withdrew toward the south around Napata where a unique culture developed, blending Nubian and Egyptian influences including the art of pyramid building. Meroe subsequently became the new capital and the kingdom prospered for hundreds of years. It was especially prosperous during the reign of the famous Candaces (Kandake), queens that included Amanishakheto and Amanirenas, who were the most famous for having saved their kingdom’s independence by driving off the Romans. It was only in the fourth century BCE that the Nubian civilization gradually disappeared under the domination of the Ethiopian kingdom of Axum. Nubia’s development was possible thanks to the exceptional geographic location that ensured its great wealth. As well as benefiting from the fertile plains along the River Nile, it had several gold mines and was situated at a trading crossroads for ebony, incense, aromatic oils, animal skins, ostrich feathers and eggs among other goods.

Did you know?

The Nubians are responsible for building more than 200 pyramids. Today there are three times as many pyramids in Sudan as there are in Egypt.