The Land of Gold

In hieroglyphics, the word “Nubia” means “Land of Gold” and it is true that this land is home to a wealth of monumental treasures. Nubia, the ancient kingdom of Kush, is the stretch of land next to the Nile from Aswan down to Khartoum in the south. In ancient times Nubia controlled all trade between the Mediterranean lands and African societies to the south. Nubia’s most exotic imports included gold, ivory and ebony. It also produced and traded incense, grains, cattle, cotton and smelted iron. Nubians are depicted in many tomb paintings and reliefs, usually as mercenaries or traders.

Wadi El SebouaThe history of Nubia is also interesting in light of the unusually high number of ruling queens that have reigned in that region. In the Nubian Valley, for example, Isis, the queen of all goddesses, had a huge and devoted following. She was viewed as both the Egyptian goddess of magical powers, and as a devoted, tireless nurturer of the land and culture of Egypt and Nubia.

Today, Nubians still maintain their distinct traditions, architecture, and native languages. However, as a result of the construction of the High Dam, water flooded much of their traditional homeland. Many Nubians then migrated - either to Aswan and Kom Ombo, or south to Sudan. Nubia still has dozens of sites of archaeological interest: twenty four temples, as well as fortresses and tombs, which were menaced by the rising water behind the High Dam. Some temples have been moved to safety, most notably the temples of Philae, Kalabsha and Abu Simbel.


The Museum of Nubia

Nubian MuseumAny Nubian treasures can be seen at the International Museum of Nubia. The three-story building has displays reflecting the various phases in the development of Nubian culture, as well as a library and an information center. The head of the Shpatka, of Nubian origin, made of rosy granite, and the black granite head of Tahraqa, the Nubian King who had a prosperous reign about 2700 years ago, can be found inside. The museum also has a temple that rests on gold-plated pillars, which bears King Tahraqa's name. Within the Museum are also 3000 antiques, representing the pre-historic, Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic ages.

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