|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)|
Origin of name
The name Nubia is derived from that of the Noba people, nomads who settled the area in the 4th century following the collapse of the kingdom of Meroë. The Noba spoke a Nilo-Saharan language, ancestral to Old Nubian. Old Nubian was mostly used in religious texts dating from the 8th and 15th centuries AD. Before the 4th century, and throughout classical antiquity, Nubia was known as Kush, or, in Classical Greek usage, included under the name Ethiopia (Aithiopia).
Nubia was divided into two major regions: Upper and Lower Nubia, so called because of their location in the Nile river valley, the 'lower' being further downstream than the 'upper'. Lower Nubia lay between the First and Second Cataracts of the Nile river, spreading into modern southern Egypt and northern Sudan, while Upper Nubia extended between the Second and Sixth Cataracts, in modern central Sudan.
It was one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Northeastern Africa, with a history that can be traced from at least 2000 B.C. onward (through Nubian monuments and artifacts, as well as written records from Egypt and Rome), and was home to one of the African empires.
Early settlements sprouted in both Upper and Lower Nubia. Egyptians referred to Nubia as "Ta-Seti," or "The Land of the Bow," since the Nubians were known to be expert archers. Modern scholars typically refer to the people from this area as the “A-Group” culture. Fertile farmland just south of the Third Cataract is known as the “pre-Kerma” culture in Upper Nubia, as they are the ancestors.
There were a number of large Nubian kingdoms throughout the Post classical Era, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate, resulting in the Arabization of much of the Nubian population. Nubia was again united within Ottoman Egypt in the 19th century, and within the Kingdom of Egypt from 1899 to 1956.
Historically, the people of Nubia spoke at least two varieties of the Nubian language group, a subfamily that includes Nobiin (the descendant of Old Nubian), Kenuzi-Dongola, Midob and several related varieties in the northern part of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan. Until at least 1970, the Birgid language was spoken north of Nyala in Darfur, but is now extinct.
In 2300 BC, Nubia was first mentioned in Old Kingdom Egyptian accounts of trade missions. From Aswan, right above the First Cataract, the southern limit of Egyptian control at the time, Egyptians imported gold, incense, ebony, copper, ivory, and exotic animals from tropical Africa through Nubia. As trade between Egypt and Nubia increased, so did wealth and stability.
By the Egyptian 6th dynasty, Nubia was divided into a series of small kingdoms. There is debate over whether these C-Group peoples, who flourished from c. 2500 BC to c. 1500 BC, were another internal evolution or invaders. There are definite similarities between the pottery of the A-Group and C-Group, so it may be a return of the ousted Group-As, or an internal revival of lost arts. At this time, the Sahara Desert was becoming too arid to support human beings, and it is possible that there was a sudden influx of Saharan nomads. C-Group pottery is characterized by all-over incised geometric lines with white infill and impressed imitations of basketry.
During the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1640 BC), Egypt began expanding into Nubia to gain more control over the trade routes in Northern Nubia and direct access to trade with Southern Nubia. They erected a chain of forts down the Nile below the Second Cataract. These garrisons seemed to have peaceful relations with the local Nubian people, but little interaction during the period. A contemporaneous but distinct culture from the C-Group was the Pan Grave culture, so called because of their shallow graves. The Pan Graves are associated with the East bank of the Nile, but the Pan Graves and C-Group definitely interacted. Their pottery is characterized by incised lines of a more limited character than those of the C-Group, generally having interspersed undecorated spaces within the geometric schemes.
Migrations from Indian to north western countries
Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria) writes that We may now cite at some length from Pococke who has traced Indian migrations to all corners of the world solely through linguistic similarities. This extreme reliance on phonetic similarities seems to weaken his argument, but there is ample support, from other disciplines, techniques and lines of investigation, for his claims. Further, the large body of data, he has massed together cannot be brushed away lightly. When supported by other evidence, his thesis becomes incontrovertible. According to Pococke a great number of adventurous preux chevalier tribes from India migrated to Spain, Italy, Greece, Asia Minor,Persia, Colchis, Armenia and the Caucasus region, all of which provide distinct and startling evidence of Indian colonization in great profusio. We have tried (Appendix No.6) to pinpoint the Indian names and places of the origin of the migrated tribes as well as the altered forms of their names in their new settlements in other countries. The appendix indicating all this, is by no means, exhaustive. It may not be unnecessary here to point out that in some countries the presence of Indian tribes can be construed by their names, though distorted, while, in others their identity can be traced by place names in these transformed phonemic nomenclatures. All the more significant is the fact that almost all the tribes are considered Saca-Getae (Jats) or Scythians by the learned scholar.(cf. Appendix No.6).
To these may be added the Parasurama-Haihayas (Scythians) wars, Sagar's war against Haihayas and their allies (Sakas, Parthas,Pahlavas etc) the Dasarajna Wars, the Rama-Ravana Yudha, the Mahabharata war. Pococke lays special stress on the virulent religious strife for a long time between the Brahmins and the Buddhists for supremacy, leading to Brahmanic victory and the gigantic expulsion of the Buddhists. Pococke claims that this was the most crucial event which compelled migrations and
The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations:End of page 307
banishment of the vanquished to the north-western countries. The Saga of the Kurus and Pandus, though ostensibly political was in reality, as Pococke contends, a struggle between the Brahminical and the Buddhistic parties. Profound night clouds this portion on Indian history. What Pococke regards as clear is that the emigrants coasted along the shores of Mekran, traversed the mouth of Persian Gulf. Adhering to the sea-board of Oman, Hadramant and Yemen (the Eastern Arabia), they sailed up the Red Sea, and ascending the mighty stream - the Nile - that fertilizes a land of wonders, founded the kingdoms of Egypt, Nubia, Abyssinia and Ethiopia. Fhilostratus, Julius Africanus, Eusebius and Syncellus, the Greek writers assert that the Ethiopians were originally an Indian race, emigrated from the river Indus and settled in the vicinity of Egypt. This assertion cannot be dismissed lightly.
- Emberling, Geoff (2011). Nubia: Ancient Kingdoms of Africa. New York: Institute for the study of the ancient world. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-615-48102-9.
- "The C-Group people in Lower Nubia, 2500 - 1500 BCE. Cattle pastoralists in a multicultural setting". www.academia.edu.
- "Between Kush and Egypt: The C-Group people of Lower Nubia during the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period". www.academia.edu.
- The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations/The identification of the Jats, pp.307-308
- Pococke, E; India in Greece, Indian Reprint, 1972, p. 32, 47, 134.
- Ibid., pp.38, 51ff, 63, 70, 124, 148, 159, 178, 195, 205, 229, 242, 251, 255,300.
- For further study please cf. C. Wordsworth, D.O., 'Greece, Pictorial and Descriptive; Grote, His. of Greece; Niebuh" His. of Rome; Troyer, Ramayana; Tod, Ann; Is and Antiquities of Rajasthan; Ency. Metropolitania; Smith, Muth. Lex., vol.I Homer, Odessey, Iliad; Asiatic Researches; Mure, His. of Greek Literatura, . Vol.I; Strabo's Geographia; Wilson, skt. Les.; Kruse, Hellas; Smith, Dic. of Astiq.; Hamilton E, Ind. Gaz., Vol.I; Thoronton, Geog. of Ph.; Thirliwall, His. of Greece; Thueydide, Genesis and App. No. XX in Pococke's Ind. in Greece
- Ibid., Chs VI-XV
- Ibid., p. 300. Dr. Buddha Prakash describes the Epic war as the 'Saga of the Sakas'.
- Ibid., p.43
- Ibid., p. 205.