What is Nubia?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Nubia is a region of Africa located in the present-day nations of Egypt and Sudan. Although Nubia is no longer an independent region, many of the people who live there still consider themselves to be Nubians, and some can trace their heritage back over centuries of African history. Visitors to this region today can see a number of ancient archaeological sites and visit museums with Nubian cultural artifacts.

Construction of the Aswan Dam was a major blow to the people of Nubia, forcing many to re-settle in Sudan.
Construction of the Aswan Dam was a major blow to the people of Nubia, forcing many to re-settle in Sudan.

People have been living in Nubia for thousands of years, and the region probably hosts some of Africa's oldest cultural history. Nubia stretches from Aswan in Southern Egypt to Khartoum in Northern Sudan, running along the Nile River Valley. People who consider themselves to be Nubians speak languages in the Nubian language family, and an effort has been made to preserve these languages, along with Nubian culture in general.

The history of this region is extremely complex and lengthy. At one point, Nubia was heavily dominated by Egyptian society, although the tables were turned during the 8th century BCE, when the Nubians managed to conquer Egypt and govern for around 100 years before being expelled. As early as the third century CE, the Nubians were introduced to Christianity, and a powerful Christian kingdom developed in the regions before being conquered by the Muslims.

Today, Nubia is culturally rich, with the legacy of thousands of years of history, and many Nubian people are rightfully proud of their heritage. Although Nubia has been split into kingdoms and regions of varying sizes over its history, the Nubian people have still managed to retain a collective identity, observing their own cultural practices, speaking their own languages, and preserving their history.

The construction of the Aswan Dam represented a major blow to the people of the area, with many Egyptian Nubians being resettled to Sudan to make way for Lake Nasser, the large body of water which formed behind the dam. The flooding of Nubia resulted in the destruction of some ancient cultural artifacts which could not be moved, and the displacement of the Nubian people represented a substantial shift in their way of life. In Egypt itself, Nubians are often treated as second class citizens, and they struggle for rights and access to services, while their treatment in Sudan tends to be more favorable.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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