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Describe the kinds of evidence that have been used by archaeologists and historians to draw conclusions about the social and economic characteristics of Ancient Nubia (the Kingdom of Kush) and their relationship to the social and economic characteristics of Ancient Egypt.

 Map of kingdoms, states and tribes in 400 BCE
Map of kingdoms, states and tribes in 400 BCE

Focus Question: What have archaeologists found about the society and economy of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Nubia?

Topics on the Page

Arts and Pottery
Religious practices
Trade and Commerce
Women's History Resources
Historical Biography Page for Cleopatra

1837 Map: Ancient Egypt, Nubia (Sudan), and Abyssinia (Ethiopia))
1837 Map: Ancient Egypt, Nubia (Sudan), and Abyssinia (Ethiopia))

The History of Ancient Nubia, University of Chicago

For background, link to Nubia: Struggling to Protect a Glorious Past from PBS Black Kingdoms of the Nile.

A New Look at the Little-Known Pyramids of Ancient Nubia, Atlas Obscura

rotating gif.gifFor more on Egypt and Nubia, see World Geography A.1.

Arts and Pottery

Archaeologists have found similar styles of pottery and art work inside the Tombs of both Egyptian and Nubian Pharaohs. Sketches carved into the tombs tell archaeologists that the Nubians and Egyptians borrowed ideas from each other. For example, The White Crown that both rulers wore.

To see the science behind the pyramids, check out this video: How Were the Pyramids Built?


Though a lot is not known about the specifics of the Nubian religion archaeologists have determined that from a religious stand point the people of Nubia were very similar to the people of ancient Egypt. They shared many of the same Gods and Goddesses such as Horus, Isis, and Seth to name a few. Their religious practices were also similar in that they had pharaohs and both believed
Relief of Amun-Ra, temple of Amun at Kawa, Ancient Nubia
Relief of Amun-Ra, temple of Amun at Kawa, Ancient Nubia

in the afterlife.

Wall art from the temple at Musawwarat al-Sufra.

game_icon.svg.pngThis Egyptian Tomb Adventure is an interactive game that explores an Ancient Egyptian Tomb and artifacts that can be found in them! click here to explore!
primary_sources.PNGFor wonderful primary sources on Nubia, see the Internet History Sourcebook: Egypt.
Tomb wall depicting Nubian Pharaoh Amanitenmemide protected by goddess Isis
Tomb wall depicting Nubian Pharaoh Amanitenmemide protected by goddess Isis

See the Ancient Kingdom of Kush (Nubia) for younger student friendly information on Nubia (Land of Gold), the daily life of the common people, daily life of the nobles, religion, trade, and much more.

For information on Ancient Sudan (Nubia) including pages on burials, writings, religion, daily life, geography, and many more resources, see Ancient Sudan~Nubia.

Trade and Commerce

Western Deffufa in ancient city Kerma, Nubia, Sudan
Western Deffufa in ancient city Kerma, Nubia, Sudan

Historians have found traces of existing trade between the two kingdoms, including Nubia trading gold, silver, ivory, and rare feathers, in exchange for grain, papyrus sheets, horses, and cedar wood from Egypt.

Rotating_globe-small.gifEgypt in its African Context examines the link between the cultural relationship between Ancient Egypt and Africa through archaeological findings.

Rotating_globe-small.gifFor more information about Ancient Nubia, see the Nubia Gallery.

Female_Rose.pngWomen's History Resources

Women in ancient Egypt were more or less the equal to their male peers.

Cleopatra's foreign policy goal, in addition to preserving her personal power, was to maintain Egypt's independence from the rapidly expanding Roman Empire.
  • By trading with Eastern nations—Arabia and possibly as far away as India—she built up Egypt's economy, bolstering her country's status as a world power. By allying herself with Roman general Mark Antony, Cleopatra hoped to keep Octavian, Julius Caesar's heir and Antony's rival, from making Egypt a vassal to Rome.
    • Ancient sources make it clear that Cleopatra and Antony did love each other and that Cleopatra bore Antony three children; still, the relationship was also very useful to an Egyptian queen who wished to expand and protect her empire.

Link to Cleopatra Historical Biography page

Women in Ancient Nubia
People are most familiar with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, similar to the Egyptians, Nubian women played an important and often times powerful role in society.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/who-was-cleopatra-151356013/#ixzz2sI8QugH0

Article on the role of women in Ancient Egypt, for younger students

Female_Rose.pngFor excellent information on women in Ancient Nubia, see Ancient Nubia: The Role of Women & Role of Women in Nubia (Kneller).

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 11.48.22 AM.pngFor information on Ancient Nubian Art, visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Nubian Art Collection

Race in Ancient Egypt has been discussed in many news articles because of the all-white cast in a recent movie set in Ancient Egypt.

New Sources


Internet History Sourcebook: Egypt (2007). Retreived 23 June 2011 from Internet History Sourcebooks Project's website and Paul Halsall's page:
Egypt in its African Context (2011). Retrieved 23 June 2011) from Academia's site:
Nubia Gallery (2011). Retrieved 23 June 2011 from the Oriental Institutes's site: http://oi.uchicago.edu/museum/nubia/nknapnk.html.
Women in Ancient Nubia. Retrieved 23 June 2011 from dignubia's site: http://www.dignubia.org/maps/timeline/bce-0667b.htm.
Ancient Nubia: The Role of Women (2011). Retrieved 23 June 2011 from the Oriental Institute's site: http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/MUS/ED/TRC/NUBIA/women.html.

New images obtained from Wikimedia Commons 25 June 2011.

Crawford, Amy. "Who Was Cleopatra?." Smithsonian. N.p., 1 Apr. 2007. Web. 3 Feb. 2014. Path: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/who-was-cleopatra-151356013/?page=1.