The Black Pharaohs Nubian Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt
The Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt, known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt.
The 25th dynasty was a line of rulers originating in the Nubian Kingdom of Kush and most saw Napata as their spiritual homeland. They reigned in part or all of Ancient Egypt from 760 BC to 656 BC. The dynasty began with Kashta's invasion of Upper Egypt and culminated in several years of both successful and unsuccessful war with the Mesopotamian based Assyrian Empire. The 25th's reunification of Lower Egypt, Upper Egypt, and also Kush (Nubia) created the largest Egyptian empire since the New Kingdom.
They ushered in an age of renaissance by reaffirming Ancient Egyptian religious traditions, temples, and artistic forms, while introducing some unique aspects of Kushite culture. It was during the 25th dynasty that the Nile valley saw the first widespread construction of pyramids (many in modern Sudan) since the Middle Kingdom. After the Assyrian kings Sargon II and Sennacherib defeated attempts by the Nubian kings to gain a foothold in the Near East, their successors Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal invaded Egypt and defeated and drove out the Nubians.
War with Assyria resulted in the end of Kushite power in Northern Egypt and the conquest of Egypt by Assyria. They were succeeded by the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt, initially a puppet dynasty installed by and vassals of the Assyrians, the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest.
The Kushite era of rule in Nubia was established after the Late Bronze Age collapse and the disintegration of the New Kingdom of Egypt. Kush was centered at Napata (now modern Karima, Sudan) during its early phase. After Kashta ("the Kushite") invaded Egypt in the 8th century BC, the monarchs of Kush were also the pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt, until they were expelled by the Neo-Assyrian Empire under the rule of Esarhaddon a century later.
During classical antiquity, the Kushite imperial capital was located at Meroë. In early Greek geography, the Meroitic kingdom was known as Aethiopia. The Kingdom of Kush with its capital at Meroe persisted until the 4th century AD, when it weakened and disintegrated due to internal rebellion. The seat was eventually captured and burnt to the ground by the Kingdom of Aksum. Afterwards the Nubians established the three, eventually Christianized, kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia.
The native name of the Kingdom was recorded in Egyptian as k3š, likely pronounced /kuɫuʃ/ or /kuʔuʃ/ in Middle Egyptian when the term is first used for Nubia, based on the New Kingdom-era Akkadian transliteration as the genitive kūsi.
It is also an ethnic term for the native population who initiated the kingdom of Kush. The term is also displayed in the names of Kushite persons, such as King Kashta (a transcription of k3š-t3 "(one from) the land of Kush"). Geographically, Kush referred to the region south of the first cataract in general. Kush also was the home of the rulers of the 25th dynasty.
The name Kush, since at least the time of Josephus, has been connected with the biblical character Cush, in the Hebrew Bible (Hebrew: כוש), son of Ham (Genesis 10:6). Ham had four sons named: Cush, Put, Canaan and Mizraim (Hebrew name for Egypt). According to the Bible, Nimrod, a son of Cush, was the founder and king of Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar (Gen 10:10). The Bible also makes reference to someone named Cush who is a Benjamite (Psalms 7:1, KJV).
Mentuhotep II, the 21st century BC founder of the Middle Kingdom, is recorded to have undertaken campaigns against Kush in the 29th and 31st years of his reign. This is the earliest Egyptian reference to Kush; the Nubian region had gone by other names in the Old Kingdom. Under Thutmose I, Egypt made several campaigns south. This eventually resulted in their annexation of Nubia c. 1504 BC. After the conquest, Kerma culture was increasingly Egyptianized, yet rebellions continued for 220 years until c. 1300 BC. Nubia nevertheless became a key province of the New Kingdom, economically, politically and spiritually. Indeed, major pharonic ceremonies were held at Jebel Barkal near Napata. As an Egyptian colony from the 16th century BC, Nubia ("Kush") was governed by an Egyptian Viceroy of Kush. With the disintegration of the New Kingdom around 1070 BC, Kush became an independent kingdom centered at Napata in modern northern Sudan.
The extent of cultural/political continuity between the Kerma culture and the chronologically succeeding Kingdom of Kush is difficult to determine. The latter polity began to emerge around 1000 BC, 500 years after the end of the Kingdom of Kerma. By 1200 BC, Egyptian involvement in the Dongola Reach was nonexistent. By the 8th century BC, the new Kushite kingdom emerged from the Napata region of the upper Dongola Reach. The first Napatan king, Alara, dedicated his sister to the cult of Amun at the rebuilt Kawa temple, while temples were also rebuilt at Barkal and Kerma. A Kashta stele at Elephantine, places the Kushites on the Egyptian frontier by the mid-eighteenth century. This first period of the kingdom's history, the 'Napatan', was succeeded by the 'Meroitic', when the royal cemeteries relocated to Meroë around 300 BC.
The Kushites buried their monarchs along with all their courtiers in mass graves. Archaeologists refer to these practices as the "Pan-grave culture"This was given its name due to the way in which the remains are buried. They would dig a pit and put stones around them in a circle. Kushites also built burial mounds and pyramids, and shared some of the same gods worshiped in Egypt, especially Ammon and Isis. With the worshiping of these gods, the Kushites began to take some of the names of the gods as their throne names.
The Kush rulers were regarded as guardians of the state religion and were responsible for maintaining the houses of the gods. Some scholars[who?] believe the economy in the Kingdom of Kush was a redistributive system. The state would collect taxes in the form of surplus produce and would redistribute to the people. Others believe that most of the society worked on the land and required nothing from the state and did not contribute to the state. Northern Kush seems to have been more productive and wealthier than the Southern area.
Dental trait analysis of fossils dating from the Meroitic period in Semna, Nubia, found that they were closely related to Afroasiatic-speaking populations inhabiting the Nile, Horn of Africa, Maghreb and Canary Islands. The Meroitic skeletons and these ancient and recent fossils were also phenotypically distinct from those belonging to recent Niger–Congo, Nilo-Saharan and Khoisan-speaking populations in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as from the Mesolithic inhabitants of Jebel Sahaba in Nubia.
Conquest of Egypt (25th Dynasty)
Egypt's international prestige had declined considerably towards the end of the Third Intermediate Period. Its historical allies, the inhabitants of Canaan, had fallen to the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1020 BC), and then the resurgent Neo-Assyrian Empire (935–605 BC). The Assyrians, from the 10th century BC onwards, had once more expanded from northern Mesopotamia, and conquered a vast empire, including the whole of the Near East, and much of Anatolia, the eastern Mediterranean, the Caucasus and early Iron Age Iran.
In 945 BC, Shoshenq I and Libu princes took control of the Nile Delta and founded the Twenty-second Dynasty of Egypt, also known as the Libyan or Bubastite dynasty, which would rule for some 200 years. Shoshenq also gained control of southern Egypt by placing his family members in important priestly positions. In 711, Shoshenq made Memphis his northern capital. However, Libyan control began to erode as a rival dynasty in the delta arose in Leontopolis and Kushites threatened from the south.
Why the Kushites chose to enter Egypt at this crucial point of foreign domination is subject to debate. Archaeologist Timothy Kendall offers his own hypotheses, connecting it to a claim of legitimacy associated with Jebel Barkal. Kendall cites the Victory Stele of Piye at Jebel Barkal, which states that "Amun of Napata granted me to be ruler of every foreign country," and "Amun in Thebes granted me to be ruler of the Black Land (Kmt)". According to Kendall, "foreign lands" in this regard seems to include Lower Egypt while "Kmt" seems to refer to a united Upper Egypt and Nubia.
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