Soba

SOBA The capital city of the medieval Nubian kingdom of ‘ALWA. It was situated on the east bank of the Blue Nile, a short distance upstream from the confluence with the White Nile. The city is not mentioned by name in any text before the early Middle Ages, but it must have been founded at […]

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Shibab Al-Din Ahmad Nuwayri

SHIBAB AL-DIN AHMAD NUWAYRI Shibab al-Din Ahmad ‘Abd al-Wahhab al- Nuwayri (d. 1332) wrote an encyclopedia called Nihayat al-Arab fi funun al-adab (The Limits of Desires in the Arts of Literature). Among other things, it is an important source of information about the Nubian campaigns of the Mamluk sultan Qalawun, which contributed greatly to the […]

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Ibn Hawqal

IBN HAWQAL Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn Hawqal al-Nasibi (d. 988) was an Arab traveler who seems to have visited Nubia and the Sudan in 955. He later wrote a book based on his travels, of which two versions survive: an earlier version called Kitab al- Masalik wa-al-Mamalik (Book of Ideologies and Countries), and a revised […]

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Ibn Salim Al-Aswani

IBN SALIM AL-ASWANI ‘Abdallah ibn Ahmad ibn Salim, familiarly known to historians as Ibn Salim al-Aswani, lived in the latter half of the tenth century. Almost nothing is known of his life or his career, except that at some time between 969 and 973 he undertook a diplomatic mission to the Nubian kingdom of MAKOURIA. […]

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Lalibala

LALIBALA This small and isolated community set deep in the Simyen Mountains of central Ethiopia is one of the most remarkable Christian religious centers in Africa. Within the confines of the town are no fewer than eleven monolithic churches, hewn from the native red sandstone of the Ethiopian Plateau. Tradition attributes them all to Emperor […]

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Empire Of Kush

EMPIRE OF KUSH Roman Egypt was bordered on the south by the empire of Kush, whose territory extended from Lower Nubia at least as far southward as the confluence of the Blue and White Niles. The empire was ruled for nearly a thousand years by descendants of the “Ethiopian” pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, who […]

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Longinus

LONGINUS A sixth-century missionary, who, according to ecclesiastical historians, played an important role in bringing Christianity to the Nubian kingdoms both of NOBATIA and of ‘ALWA. Information about his life and activities is found in the work of his contemporary, John of Ephesus, and in the later writers Eutychius and AL-MAQRIZI. According to John of […]

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Baqt Treaty

BAQT TREATY The Baqt was a negotiated agreement between ‘Abdallah ibn Sa’id ibn Abi Sarh, the Umayyad governor of Egypt, and the Nubian king of MAKOURIA. It was concluded at DONGOLA in A.D. 632 following an unsuccessful Muslim attempt to subjugate the Nubian kingdom. The name Baqt is presumed to be derivative from Greek pakton […]

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Tafa, Or Taifa

TAFA, or Taifa In both ancient and modern times a settlement in Lower Nubia, about 30 miles (50 km) south of Aswan. In a number of classical texts it is called Taphis. Two small temples were built here in pharaonic times, and the place later became the main center of Roman military administration in Lower […]

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Beja Tribes

BEJA TRIBES The nomadic and warlike Beja tribes have occupied the Red Sea hills of Egypt and Sudan since very early times. In pharaonic days, the tribes were known as the Medjay and were already regarded as a menace by the settled populations in the Nile Valley. One of the Egyptian frontier fortresses built in […]

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