The Common Origins of Egypt and Ethiopia ? Sudan. Oromos, Arabic Speaking Sudanese, Nubians. I
Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
March 03, 2010
In the case of the Arabic speaking populations of Central Sudan, they have been stripped of their historical continuity and identity (the Ethiopian identity); as far as the Semitic Amhara and Tigray Abyssinians are concerned, they have been attributed another past (the Ethiopian past), which was not theirs but belonged to some of their neighbours (the Arabic speaking populations of Central Sudan) and to some of the nations that had been subjugated by the Abyssinians (namely the Oromos, the Sidamas, the Kaffas, the Hadiyas, and the Kambaatas).
I then stressed the point that to further separate the Arabic speaking populations of Central Sudan from their Ethiopian identity and historicity, the bogus-historical term Nubia was created, and projected onto the History of Ancient Sudan the identity of which is Kushitic ? Ethiopian, not Nubian.
I stressed the point that Nubians lived among the Egyptians in Egypt and the Kushites ? Ethiopians in Sudan, and participated in all aspects of both, the Ancient Egyptian and the Ancient Kushitic ? Ethiopian civilizations, but I denied Modern Nubians exclusivity rights on any monument and any period of the Ancient Egyptian and the Ancient Kushitic ? Ethiopian past, because they only participated in the historical process.
I concluded that in the same way we cannot label Ancient Egypt "Nubia", we cannot afford to call Ancient Ethiopia ? Kush (Sudan) "Nubia" either. In fact, Nubians ruled an independent state only once, at the early Christian period of Sudan (Nobatia), and only one Ancient Nubian temple has been preserved down to our times, namely that of the Nubian god Maluli (Mandulis) at Talmis ? Kalabsha.
I terminated with a historical contextualization effort and the classification of the Ancient and Modern Hamites and Kushites whose historical greatness is totally unrelated and diametrically opposed to the Semitic Yemenite past of the Amhara and Tigray Abyssinians who fallaciously pretend to the name of Ethiopia for their tyrannical and terrorist state.
I then announced that in this article, I will focus on the use of the fake historical term Nubia by the Freemasonic Orientalist academia of Europe, revealing that almost 99% of the times the term is used at the historical level (due to the systematic Fallacy of Ethiopianism), it should be rendered as Kush / Ethiopia, which is Sudan and not Abyssinia. I will therefore proceed through the various historical periods of the Antiquity first.
4th - 3rd Millennium BCE Kush / Ethiopia, the Displaced Terms Upper / Lower Nubia, and the Hamitic Substrate of A-Group
How all this Nubian confusion permeates scholars and amateurs, local and international readerships, we can see in an otherwise informative and up-to-the point website www.nubianet.org. In the History section, and more specifically in the following link (http://www.nubianet.org/about/about_history3.html), a geographical division of Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt into two entities, namely Upper Nubia and Lower Nubia is totally out of historical context.
This geographical division reflects realities of the modern times, when the Nubians are the exclusive inhabitants of Upper Nubia (Sudan) and form the majority of the population of Lower Nubia (Egypt). This division is out of place even if it is used for the times of Late Antiquity, and the Middle Ages. It is only during the islamization process of Northern Sudan and after the collapse of Makuria and Alodia, two of Sudan´s three Christian states, that the Nubians gradually become the exclusive inhabitants of the area that they inhabit today in Sudan, namely from Wadi Halfa to Dabbah on the 18th parallel.
There is absolutely no proof that the so-called A-Group civilization in Egypt´s southernmost confines (between the 1st and the 2nd cataracts of the Nile or between Aswan and Wadi Halfa, to refer to cities) emerged due to "Nubians". A-Group covers the period 3500 to 2500 BCE. The artifacts excavated and categorized as A-Group by George A. Reisner (1907) cannot be identified as possibly related to Nubians because they reflect a sheer contrast with contemporaneous findings from Egypt. Moreover, at that early stage, we do not have any reference to Nubians (Nehesy and Nub in Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics) who appear later.
At the beginning of this period, the level of civilization, technical know how, and socioeconomic progress was the same in Egypt and the A-Group region. Between Hierakonpolis (in Ancient Egyptian Nekhen, today´s Kom al Ahmar, the earliest Upper Egyptian and United Egyptian capital, see: http://www.hierakonpolis.org/) and Qustul (presumably the A-Group capital at ca. 450 km from Nekhen, close to today´s Egyptian - Sudanese borderline, see: http://wysinger.homestead.com/qustul.html), we cannot identify clearly the stronger, the wealthier, and the more developed capital of state. Qustul seems to have been the capital of exquisitely buried dead, and this hints at a sophisticated society.
Reisner named this civilization with the conventional name (A-Group), which remained in use down to our times, precisely because he realized that it would be unreasonable to call this civilization either Egyptian or Nubian. In later periods, with the amalgamation of the Egyptians, the Kushites ? Ethiopians, and the Nubians, the mainstream Egyptian civilization seems to have prevailed throughout NE Africa, but at this early stage, the differences in the material record suggest that two distinct populations inhabited the two countries, A-Group Kush ? Ethiopia and Pre-dynastic Upper Egypt.
Assessing this period´s data in the light of later periods and developments, we should rather draw the conclusion that the earliest Nubians lived among Upper and Lower Egyptians, and progressively expanded to the South after the dissolution of the A-Group Kush ? Ethiopia, ca. 2500 BCE, at the moment of Egypt´s zenith.
Were the A-Group people Kushites ? Ethiopians, ancestors of the inhabitants of Kerma and Napata, capital cities that rose to prominence in later periods? Most probably not. They must have rather been of Hamitic, Berber origin, who settled in that area, after being separated from their Libyan counterparts, who settled far in the north, at modern Egypt´s westernmost confiens. The fact that Pharaoh Snefru attacked them both (A-Group and Libyans) suggests a possible affiliation (not however close) with the Lower Egyptians, another Hamitic group that may have left Sahara at an earlier date to settle in the Delta region and Lower Egypt.
The tombs at Qustul bear witness to multifaceted exchanges with Egypt, and Egyptian artifacts were abundant there. On the other hand, A-Group artifacts have been found at Nekhen, although not many. Interpreting archeological evidence from pre-dynastic times (before 2950 BCE) with the help of later Egyptian narrations and legends about the pre-dynastic states in the area, we can deduce that for the centralizing power of the United Egypt (starting by Narmer at whose times Egyptian Hieroglyphic writing was introduced) A-Group constituted a permanent threat and the realm of negative. Osirian influence seems to have been vastly diffused from A-Group to Upper Egyptians, and as it encapsulated the entire political ideology of both states, Osiris´ white, tall crown became that of the A-Group kings and also of the Nekhen kings. After the unification of the Tawy, the two lands (Upper and Lower Egypt), the white crown remained as one of the two crowns of every Egyptian Pharaoh, until the times of Diocletian and Constantine, the Roman Emperor.
The early dynastic Egyptian military expeditions undertaken in the area of A-Group state between 3100 and 2500 BCE demonstrate that state´s perilous character for Egypt. At the end, Pharaoh Snefru´ scribes present an account involving 7000 captives from the ´Land of the Bow´ (early name for Kush / Ethiopia, initially given to only A-Group territory) and no less than 200000 head of cattle. Similar results were achieved during Pharaoh Snefru´s Libyan campaign, when the pharaonic army brought to Egypt 11000 captives and 13000 head of cattle.
The early Hamitic state that was located in today´s Egypt´s southernmost confines did not have any historical continuity; it was incorporated in the Ancient Egypt, and its population progressively assimilated. The fact makes the Hamitic identity of Egypt undoubtedly stronger, and its connection with the Sahara.
Beyond the southern border of the Hamitic A-Group state, an early Kushitic (the term is used in the sense of Eastern Hamitic) population seems to have been indigenous and organized in a rather rudimentary manner. Some typical forms of African architecture originate from there. Known as "Pre-Kerma settlement", the oldest Kushitic community lived in round houses with conical roofs, a typical African pattern. Fluvial navigation and trade must have been some their primary activities, and they traded with the A-Group state and Egypt. A disaster must have befallen on them, decimating the early Kushitic population before the dissolution of the A-Group state, due to a Nile channel shift (ca. 2700).
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Always reading "Hamitic" instead of "Nubian" or "Kushitic" in the aforementioned texts.
1. On the Qustul Incense Burner:
In 1962, at a place called Qustul, about 180 miles (300 km) upriver from Aswan, a University of Chicago team, under the direction of Dr. Keith Seele, discovered a series of plundered, but still unusally rich, tombs containing massive quantities of Egyptian trade goods and luxury items. Since the rising floodwaters were advancing rapidly, the tombs were excavated hastily and the material put in storage. In the early 1980's, when he first examined the material prior to its final publication, Prehistorian Bruce B. Williams theorized that the tombs may have belonged to a dynasty of ten to twelve A-Group kings and that, like Upper and Lower Egypt at about the same time, Lower Nubia may also have developed a strong centralized authority. Two of the objects found in the tombs were sandstone incense burners, made of local stone, carved in intaglio with scenes that seemed to show ancient Egyptian kings, dressed in traditional tall crown (signifying rule over the south) and protected by the falcon god Horus. What made Williams' theory so controversial was that he proposed that the objects did not show early Egyptian kings but rather A-Group kings, and that the objects - and the A-Group kingship - were earlier by at least two centuries than the Egyptian kingship of the same form. He went on to suggest that this hypothetical Nubian kingship became the model for the later Egyptian. The argument was quickly seized by American Afrocentrists as proof that Egyptian-style kingship was not home-grown but was imported from central Africa, and that the report by the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus in the first century BC that Egyptian civilization had derived from Nubia ("Aithiopia") was confirmed.
While Williams' theory was intriguing, it could never be proven or disproven absolutely because shortly after the clearing of the tombs all of Qustul had been flooded forever by the Aswan Dam and could not be reinvestigated. Given the large numbers of imported Egyptian goods in the tombs, one could also never be certain if the incense burners, too, were not simply Egyptian imports rather than Nubian products, as most would have assumed them to be. The fact that they were made of local stone seemed to confirm that they were Nubian, and many other objects and pottery vessels seemed to have a Sudanese origin. Williams' characterization of the tombs as belonging to a time "prior to any known Egyptian kingship" now has to be modified by the recent discovery at Abydos in Egypt of Egyptian royal artifacts that do indeed seem to reach back as far as the Qustul tombs (about 3400 BC).
2. On the Qustul Incense Burner:
Qustul Incense Burner
About 3000 B.C.
The following text is from the book: Africa in Antiquity, The Arts of Ancient Nubia and the Sudan, Steffen Wenig, The Brooklyn Museum, p. 177 (1978)
DESCRIPTION: A scene in sunk relief on the outside of a conical vessel shows a palace facade and three boats. A man stands behind a cabin on the first boat, and a crocodile, whose head only is preserved, is visible below it. Traces of prow and stern remain of the second boat. Behind it is a harpoon (?) and a goat standing on its hind legs, followed by a man wearing a scanty loincloth. He faces the third boat, one of his arms raised. On the third boat is a large quadruped, and under it is a fish pierced by a harpoon (?). Above the scene are incised hatchings. The flat rim of the vessel is decorated with hatched triangles.
Several similar objects in sandstone as well as limestone have been found in A-group excavations (Save-Soderbergh 1964, 29, pi. Ilia; Nordstrom 1972, 119f.; Nordstrom 1962, 58, pi. Xa; Griffith 1921, 9, pi. IV, 3; Reisner 1910, 277, pi. 64h). They are either undecorated or have only incised lines. Other pieces from Qustul Cemetery L and now in Chicago (Oriental Institute Museum 23684, 23709, 23717, 23719, 24058) have for the most part only a shallow depression on top, and several show traces of burning inside.
These vessels have been regarded as censers (Firth), as lamps (Save-Soderbergh 1964, 29; Nordstrom 1972, 119f.), and as dishes for grinding pigments, since an object of this kind found in Grave L 19 shows traces of red dye (Seele 1974, 29-30, 33-34). They might have had nothing to do with cylinder seals, the similarity of form being purely coincidental.
The present object should be classified with the pieces cited, which may well include some censers, although others were certainly used as mortars. The fact that the vessel is decorated is a sign of its owner's high position in society. Although the limestone was imported from Egypt, the decoration appears to be the work of a Nubian stonecutter. Similar boat representations are frequently found in rock drawings in Nubia (Landstrom 1970, figs. 73-74 on 25). The goat is a buck of the common domestic type, with twisted horns (Brentjes 1962, 14ff.). The fish is more difficult to identify since its tail fin is not plainly visible; Brentjes thinks it may be a Nile perch (Lates niloticus). He identifies the quadruped standing on the third boat as a baboon, based on the proportions of the extremities, the form of the hind legs, the simian long tail and dorsal line, and the shape of the head (by letter). According to this exact view, we must regard Nubia as the country of origin of the relief, since baboons still existed there when this object was made. Egyptian parallels are lacking.
Brentjes, B. Wildtier und Haustier im Alten Orient. Lebndiges Altertum, Populare Schriftenreihe fur Altertumswissenschaft, 11. Berlin/DDR, 1962.
Landstrom, B. Ships of the Pharaohs: 4000 Years of Egyptian Shipbuilding. London, 1970
3. On the Qustul Cemetery
The A-Group Royal Cemetery at Qustul, Cemetery L
by Bruce Beyer Williams, The University of Chicago Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition, (1986) pp. 183, 185
Cemetery L, A-Group, and Nubia
The A-Group disappeared about or shortly after the time Cemetery L ended. The reason for this disappearance and whether there was any continuation of the culture begun in the A-Group are major problems. First, the violent destruction of Cemetery L parallels the destruction and burning in the royal cemeteries of Egypt. The end of A-Group may not be related to this destruction, or even to the campaign of Aha. Certainly a number of features occur later that appeared in A-Group but not dynastic Egypt. We are therefore confronted with the puzzling situation in which a long period of relatively sparse occupation by different culture groups was succeeded by periods in which a number of distinctive A-Group features reappear.
Despite the lack of comparable material from the succeeding period in either Upper or Lower Nubia the question of continuity can be addressed by asking two questions: "Are there any materials anywhere that resemble distinctively A-Group materials and associations so closely that knowledge of them must have been transmitted?" and "Do these material similarities exist in a relationship to one another that indicates that a coherent group of materials and practices were transmitted?" The answer to this last question will determine whether or not an antecedent relationship existed. The similarities would comprise combinations so complex that their successive occurrance cannot be fortuitous or a result of casual borrowing out of context.
The Royal Cemetery of Ta-Seti of Qustul is thus the key element in a reorientation of our understanding of events in Nubia. The eclectic tastes of the Kerma-Kushites had concealed the diversity of cultures above Aswan. As with the A-Group before, the Kushites held the geographical pivot of northeastern Africa. They mixed ideas and materials from the north (Egypt), east (Pan Grave-Medjay), and south to west (Sudanese-Saharan). Since no one could pass them by they mediated contacts among these groups. At the same time, the A-Group-Kushite tradition remained a major center of Lower Nile civilization. Having a common origin with Egypt in the Naqada I-II, the southern group remained more true than Egypt to the archaic heritage that was passed to its descendants at Napata and Meroe, and, though modified by continuing contacts with Egypt, was revived in dramatic form by the Noubades in the final pharaonic cemeteries at Qustul and Ballana.