The term Nubia comes from the Kemetic (Egyptian) word “nub”, meaning gold. Thousands of years ago, Northern Nubia (Sudan) and Southern Kemet (Egypt) made up a historic area that began to be known as ancient Nubia.
Its rich culture and history is contained deep inside ancient tomb chambers, housing luxurious grave goods made of silver, bronze and gold. Ancient Nubia used funerary jewelry and art in their burial practices to express their belief in eternal life, or the idea that their ancestors continue living, even after death.
Beginning around 3800 BC, a series of kingdoms dominated Ta-Nehesy (Land of the Nubians) from what academics refer to as Old Nubia to the successive capitals at Kerma, Napata, and Meroë. Collectively known as the Kingdom of Kush, they flourished for thousand years, skillfully making use of their rich natural resources, location on key trade routes into the Arabian Peninsula and ancient India, and their world renowned military strength. Throughout this time, close ties to Kemet (Egypt), Kush’s long time neighbors, encouraged commercial and cultural exchanges but also led to conflict.
Ta-Nehesy was a place of artistic, religious, and political innovation, and its legacy of personal adornment as an expression of power and identity continues to resonate today.
The Kingdom of Kush arose around 2400 BC at the city of Kerma (in present-day Sudan). It established trade relations with Kemet, Upper Ta-Nehesy, and Ta-Netjer (Punt, Horn of Africa) exchanging both raw materials and finished products.
As Kerma grew, monumental buildings were constructed, along with a vast cemetery containing tens of thousands of burial mounds. The deceased were accompanied by rich assortments of objects and, in the largest tombs, by human and animal sacrifices. Desiring control over the gold mines of Kush and fearing its military power, the Kemites (Egyptians) invaded Kerma around 1550 BC and occupied the region for nearly five centuries.
The personal adornments discovered in the burials at Kerma were made from a variety of materials, including gold, silver, semiprecious stones, ivory, bone, and shells from the Red Sea. Nubian artisans also produced faience, a colorful glazed quartz-based ceramic long popular in Egypt. Some of these materials had religious or symbolic associations.
After the Kemites withdrew from Kush around 1000 BC, the indigenous Kingdom of Kush revived, now centered farther south along the Nile River at the city of Napata (in present-day Sudan). The sacred mountain of Gebel Barkal, located nearby, was the site of a great temple dedicated to the supreme god Amun, a ram-headed Kemetic deity whose primordial birthplace was Ta-Nehesy pointing to the shared lineage and common cultures of Kemet and Kush.
However, Napata grew very powerful, and around 725 BC King Piankhy rode into Kemet to expel the Libyans who at the time were pillaging and plundering the royal tombs and coffers. The Kushite Kings ruled as pharaohs of Kemet until 653 BC, during a period known as the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, and maintained their capital at Napata for centuries thereafter.
The Kushites once rescued Kemet from Foreign occupation:
“I have not spoken angrily or arrogantly. I have not cursed anyone in thought, word or deeds.” ~35th & 36th Principals of Ma’at