A small, late medieval kingdom, probably the last surviving Christian polity in Nubia. The name in Nubian means “below Do,” a place usually identified with the Daww of medieval Arabic manuscripts and the JABAL ‘ADDA of modern times. It is not certain whether “below” is to be read literally (since Jabal ‘Adda was on an elevated hilltop) or figuratively, as being under its administration, but at all events, Dotawo was evidently a principality centered on the lower Nubian settlement of Jabal ‘Adda.
A certain King Siti of Dotawo is mentioned in two documents, dated in the year 1331, found at the monastery of Idfu. Apart from these, all known references to the kingdom are in documents in the Old Nubian language found in NUBIA itself, at Jabal ‘Adda and at QASR IBRIM. These are presumed to have been the only two major settlements within the kingdom, the former being perhaps the royal capital and the latter the religious center. The surviving documents, which number more than twenty, are mostly of a legal or administrative nature; among other things they contain long lists of civil and ecclesiastical functionaries. The lack of differentiation between the two suggests that church and state may have been more or less merged, with the king of Dotawo at the head of both in this twilight era of Christianity in Nubia.
Many of the Dotawo documents are dated, and they range from 1155 to 1484. The earlier documents fall within the period when Lower Nubia was still clearly subject to the kingdom of MAKOURIA and therefore raise a question as to the relationship of the two kingdoms. Since ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN states that the “great king” of Nubia had thirteen lesser kings under him, the usual assumption is that the king of Dotawo was one of these. It is clear, however, that Dotawo outlived the parent kingdom and became fully independent after the disintegration of Makouria in the fifteenth century.
A second problem concerns the relationship of the kings of Dotawo to the eparchs of NOBATIA (called “Lords of the Mountain”), the viceroys of Lower Nubia appointed by the king of Makouria. Both kings and eparchs had their main seats of power at Jabal ‘Adda and Qasr Ibrim. MONNERET DE VILLARD suggested that the dynasty of Dotawo was founded when the eparchs declared their independence of Makouria and established a hereditary rule in Lower Nubia. In the earlier Dotawo texts, however, the king and the eparch are named more than once as separate individuals. It has been suggested that the kings of Dotawo and other feudatories were responsible for local administration, while the primary responsibility of the eparch was for the conduct of relations with the Muslims, both in Nubia and in Egypt.
Altogether the texts have yielded the names of eight kings of Dotawo, the last of whom was named Joel. His name appears in a number of documents, of which the latest, not yet published, bears the date 1484. After that time nothing more is heard of Dotawo, and we remain ignorant as to the circumstances of its fate. It seems already to have disappeared before the Ottomans took possession of Nubia in the sixteenth century.
- Adams, W. Y. “The Twilight of Nubian Christianity.” In Nubia, récentes recherches, ed. K. Michalowski, pp. 11-17. Warsaw, 1975.
- . Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 531-36. Princeton, N.J., 1977.
- Monneret de Villard, U. Storia della Nubia cristiana, pp. 140-42. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 118. Rome, 1938.
- Plumley, J. M. “The Christian Period at Qasr Ibrim, Some Notes in the MSS Finds.” In Nubia, récentes recherches, ed. K. Michalowski. Warsaw, 1975.
- . “New Light on the Kingdom of Dotawo.” Etudes nubiennes, colloque de Chantilly, 2-6 juillet 1975, pp. 231-41. Cairo, 1978.
- Vantini, G. Christianity in the Sudan, pp. 194-200. Bologna, 1981.
WILLIAM Y. ADAMS