Archaeologist to investigate Egypt’s Nubian Dynasty

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In the mid-eighth century BC they conquered Egypt and ruled it for nearly one hundred years. They came from Kush. To date, little is known about this episode in the history of ancient Egypt. Polish researcher intends to shed light on this issue.

Archaeologist to investigate Egypt's Nubian Dynasty
Head of Karakhamun, priest of Amun, part of an offering scene from
 his tomb which one of earliest known Kushite decorated tombs 
in the Theban necropolis [Credit: Matjaz Kacicnik]

The reign of the twenty-fifth dynasty (c. 747-656 BC), also known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire because they were invaders from Nubia (now northern Sudan), is a matter to which the scientific literature devotes little space. This situation results from the fact that not many monuments of this period have been described by scientists, and researchers have difficulties with their dating.

“The aim of my research project is to examine and organize the knowledge of manifestations of activities of the Kushites in Thebes – the main centre of acculturation of the Kushite population, who came with the rulers of the 25th dynasty to Egypt” – explained Marta Kaczanowicz, last year student at the Institute of Prehistory of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, who received Diamond Grant from the Ministry of Science for her research.

The reign of kings of the 25th synasty chronologically belongs to the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt. The rulers of this dynasty, called “Kushite” or “Nubian”, unlike earlier pharaohs of the Old or the New Kingdom, did not originate from Egypt, but from Kush. From there, approximately in the mid-eighth century, they conquered Egypt. Nearly 100 years of the rule of Ethiopians in Egypt ended with the Assyrian invasion, which forced the “black pharaohs” to withdraw to Ethiopia, where they ruled for the next ten centuries.

Archaeologist to investigate Egypt's Nubian Dynasty
The Nubian necropolis is located in the South Asasif area, south 
of Qurna on the Theban West Bank [Credit: M. Kaczanowicz]

Kaczanowicz will pay particular attention to the tombs of officials from the circles of the “God’s Wife of Amun” – high priestess of Karnak, who in those days had an extremely high position, which researchers attribute to the special status of women in the Kushite court. The researcher will compare archaeological data with written texts. This way, she will seek to understand, as she puts it, the “extraordinary phenomenon”, which was the meeting of pharaonic and Kushite cultures.

During the first visit to Egypt, Kaczanowicz will visit the majority of known Kushite tombs in Thebes, which are mostly off the beaten tourist paths. Later she will document some of them – not all known tombs in Thebes have a complete scientific documentation, including copies of hieroglyphs that are crucial for the interpretation and reconstruction of the history of the 25th dynasty.

“Kushite tombs are very difficult to distinguish from those in which the Egyptians were buried. Kushites took Egyptian names, took over the Egyptian funeral customs and funerary equipment. Therefore, we need a detailed analysis of the burials from this period” – added Kaczanowicz.

Scientists estimate that the migration from the south to Thebes was large at that time, yet there are very few tombs, which have been clearly identified as belonging to the Nubians – and the total number of burials from the time of Kushite domination in Thebes is substantial.

“My project is also aimed at popularising the little perceived phenomenon of the presence of Kushites in Egypt. Therefore, a special website will soon be created, which in addition to spreading knowledge of Thebes during this period, will also focus on a detailed presentation of digital methods of documentation and analysis of results – the workshop of contemporary archaeologist” – announced Kaczanowicz.

Source: PAP – Science and Scholarship in Poland [November 04, 2015]

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