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Jabal ‘Adda - Coptic Wiki


A hilltop fortress in Lower Nubia, across the river and slightly upstream from the famous temple of Abu Simbel. It was, along with QASR and FARAS, one of the three most important administrative centers in Lower in the medieval period.

Because only limited excavation was done in the fortress of Jabal ‘Adda prior to its flooding by the waters of Lake Nasser, many details of its history are obscure. The original fortifications may date from the Ptolemaic age, as do the similar fortifications of Qasr Ibrim. At a slightly later date, Jabal ‘Adda became a major administrative center in Meroitic times; it appears in Meroitic texts under the name Ado. The place may have suffered a temporary eclipse under the post-Meroitic of NOBATIA, but the large cemetery found nearby shows that it continued to be occupied.

Jabal ‘Adda is named by IBN SALIM AL-ASWANI as one of the three main towns in Lower at the end of the tenth century. It is not identified by him or by any other Arab author as an episcopal see, but the main Jabal ‘Adda was certainly far larger than most others in Lower Nubia. There were also at least three other churches in the immediate vicinity.

Jabal ‘Adda evidently attained its greatest importance in the late medieval period, when its fortified hilltop setting assumed a new strategic significance. The place is mentioned repeatedly by Arab chroniclers after the twelfth century, usually under the name Daww (see DOTAWO). From these sources we learn that the eparch of Nobatia, or “Lord of the Mountain,” had his main headquarters at in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, though his name is associated also with Qasr and with MEINARTI. The fortress was temporarily seized by Mamluk invaders in 1275; in 1365 the rulers of the crumbling of MAKOURIA attempted to establish their own capital there. After the breakup of Makouria, Jabal ‘Adda evidently became the center of the splinter of Dotawo, to which it gave its name. Here a Christian monarchy survived for another century or more, finally disappearing near the end of the fifteenth century.

When the Ottomans annexed in the sixteenth century, a small garrison force was stationed at Jabal ‘Adda. Apparently it occupied Jabal ‘Adda until some time in the eighteenth century. There is no indication as to exactly when or why the settlement was finally abandoned, but it was evidently before the visit of J. L. Burckhardt in 1813.


  • Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 350-55, 400-401, 494, 534-35. Princeton, N.J., 1977.
  • Millet, N. B. “Meroitic Nubia.” Doctoral dissertation, Department of History, Yale University, 1958.
  • Monneret de Villard, U. La médioevale, Vol. 1, pp. 176-181. Cairo, 1935.
  • Vantini, G. Christianity in the Sudan, pp. 194-200. Bologna, 1981.