The Egyptian and Nubian Empires

The New Kingdom Of Egypt

The overthrown of the Hyksos, about 1570 - 1075 B.C., weakened severely Egypt's wealth and power over the other neighboring city-states.In order to strengthen it, an Empire was built which gather many of the region's people thriving the lost wealth that characterized Egypcian culture.
Among the rulers of the New Kingdom,Hatshepsut, jutted out from the crowd. She took over because her stepson was too young to take the throne. Unlike others, she encouraged the improvement of trade wether than waging war.Her statues sported a beard and obscured her more feminine features. Hatshepsut did not push her luck trying to lead the army, and her reign was generally peaceful as a result. The most famous event of her reign was a trading expedition to the exotic land of Punt, which brought back myrrh, incense, ivory, monkeys, and a panther.

When her stepson reached maturity, Thutmose III proved to be a more warlike ruler.It is a tribute to Hatshepsut's ability that she had been able to keep this able young soldier under her thumb even after he came of age. The new king's frustration at having been kept from his rightful throne for so long was quickly shown by his having Hatshepsut's name erased from all public inscriptions and replaced either with his own name or those of his ancestors. Thutmose III spent much of his reign restoring Egyptian power in Syria and Palestine where it had slipped during Hatshepsut's less aggressive reign. He waged six campaigns there and another eleven against the Hurrians who had settled down to found the powerful kingdom of Mitanni. Much of this required long drawn out sieges, such as that of Megiddo, which lasted eleven months and involved building a wooden palisade and moat to completely cut the city off from outside help. Sometimes trickery was used. At the siege of Joppa, Egyptian troops supposedly got into the city by hiding in grain bags going in through the gates. At other times, the Egyptians found themselves involved in some pretty hard fighting.

Such extended campaigning so far from home forced the Egyptians to build a large professional army. Most recruits were Egyptians, but foreign mercenaries, and even captives of war made up larger proportions of the army over time. The Egyptian army was divided into divisions of about 5000 men each. The infantry were armed either with bows and arrows or large shields and axes. The most illustrious branch of the army was the chariot corps, organized into groups of twenty-five chariots each. These were light two man chariots that would sweep in front of the enemy while firing arrows into their ranks to disrupt them. After several such passes, the infantry could move in to finish off the enemy. Egypt also developed a navy whose main purpose was to transport the army by sea between Egypt and Palestine, a much easier trip than marching through the Sinai Desert.

Thutmose III's successors, Amenhotep II, Thurmoses IV, and Amenhotep III, ruled Egypt for some seventy years. They were all able warriors and generals, and maintained Egypt's power in the Near East. However, they added little or nothing to the size of the empire, probably feeling it was already about as big as they could effectively rule.

Ramses II (1290-1223 B.C.E.), took up the struggle and met the Hittites at Kadesh, one of history's great chariot battles. After being routed by a Hittite surprise attack, Ramses rallied his troops and struck back at the Hittites who had stopped to loot the Egyptian camp. The battle ended basically as a draw that led to a peace treaty and marriage alliance between the two powers. It is remarkable that, after such bitter fighting, the Egyptian and Hittite empires settled down to a peaceful co-existence that lasted until the fall of the Hittite Empire around 1200 B.C.E. At one point, Egypt even sent grain to the Hittites during a famine.

Ramses II was the last Pharaoh to see Egyptian power at its height.
After his death, Egypt entered a period of slow but steady decline. The first major shock to its power was the invasion by a mysterious people known to us only as the Sea Peoples. Who they were is not exactly clear, but some of them seem to have come from the area of the Aegean Sea around Greece. Their path of conquest followed the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean. The Hittite Empire crashed down in ruins before their onslaught and disappeared from history. Syria and Palestine were hit next as the Sea Peoples passed on to Egypt where the first recorded naval battle in history was fought. The Egyptians won, but it took a tremendous effort that sapped their strength. The Peleset, as the Egyptians called the Sea Peoples, made their way to Palestine (which gets its name from them), settled down, and became the Biblical Philistines. This period may also be the time of the Exodus when the Israelites made good their escape from Egypt to the Promised Land.

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Ancient Nubia

Once the ancient kingdom of Kush, Nubia is the stretch of land next to the Nile from Aswan down to Khartoum in the south. Nubians are depicted in many tomb paintings and reliefs- usually as mercenaries or traders. Nubians still have distinct traditions, architecture and languages, even though many migrated either to Aswan and Kom Ombo or south to Sudan after Lake Nasser swamped much of their traditional homeland. Nubia contains dozens of sites of archaeological interest. 24 temples, as well as fortresses and tombs, were menaced by the waters of the High Dam, including Dendour, Ellessiya, Amada and Wadi al- Sebowa. Some have been moved, most notably Philae, Kalabsha and Abu Simbel, and other salvage and restoration operations are in train ; The Nubian Museum is being built near Aswan to house rescued artefacts.

The Golden Age of Meroë

Inabout 250 B.C., when the Kushites were driven out of Egypt by the Assyrians, they settled in an area called Meroë. Meroë was located on the banks of the Nile River between southern Egypt and northern Sudan.

In Meroë, Kushites were able to develop a wealthy kingdom. The plentiful rain fall that Meroë received allowed Kushites to grow sorghum and millet and raise cattle. Vast iron ore reserves allowed them to produce iron tools and weapons that they traded with empires along the Red Sea and with other African peoples. This trade brought wealth and prosperity to the kingdom.

Meroë’s government was a monarchy ruled by both kings and queens. The social structure involved the division between the common people and nobles. Meroë had a large work force that built pyramids used as royal tombs, royal palaces, and religious temples. The Kushites of Meroë also adapted Egyptian hieroglyphs to their own Nubian language.

Meroë’s prosperity lasted until 150 A.D. Around this year, a trading kingdom called Aksum captured Meroe, ending the Kushite kingdom in the place.

Pyramid Tombs at Meroë

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The Kushites Conquer the Nile Region
For centuries Egypt dominated Nubia and the Nubian kingdom of Kush, which lasted about 1000 years between 2000 and 1000 B.C. When the Egyptians ell into decline in the Hyksos period, Kush began to grow as a regional power. Nubia then established its own Kushite Dynasty on the throne of Egypt.

The People of Nubia
Nubia lay south of Egypt between the first cataract of the Nile.
Several Nubian kingdoms, including Kush, served as trade corridors. They linked the Mediterranean world to the inner Africa and the Red Sea.

The Interaction of the Egypt and Nubian
During the New Kingdom, pharaohs forced Egyptians rule on Kush, thus strongly influencing the Nubians. Kush’s capital became the center for the spread of the Egyptian culture to Kush’s trading partners. Kushite princes went to Egypt. When they returned home, the Kushites nobles brought back royal rituals and hieroglyphic writing. With the Egyptian’s decline, Kush regained its independence; they viewed themselves as more suitable guardians of the Egyptians values than the Libyans. 600px-NubianMeroePyramids30sep2005(2).jpgdavid-roberts-view-under-the-grand-portico-of-the-temple-of-philae-nubia.jpgtheworld2002.1029854820.cairo-museumhead.jpg

Piankhi Captures the Egyptian Throne
In 751 B.C., a Kushite king named Piankhi overthrew the Libyan dynasty that had ruled Egypt for more than 200 years. After his victory Piankhi madea monument in his homeland of Kush, on the monument he had words inscribed that celebrated his victory. Anyway Piankhi’s dynasty proved to be short-lived, when in 671 B.C., the Assyrians a group of warlike people conquered Egypt.

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Egypt's Empire Fades
The Egyptian Empire faced various attacks by the “Sea Peoples”. These peoples caused great destruction to the empire. After these invasions, Egypt never recovered its previous power. The Egyptian empire broke apart into regional units, and numerous small kingdoms arose. Almost powerless, Egypt soon fell to its neighbors’ invasions. From around 950 to 730 B.C., Libyan pharaohs ruled Egypt and erected cities. But instead of imposing their own culture, the Libyans adopted the Egyptian way of life.
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