Wednesday 8 May 2024

The Kushite Empire (1069 BCE - 350 AD)

(Preceded by the kingdom of Kerma and followed by the kingdom of Makuria.)

On the eastern bank of the Nile River, about 200 km north-east of Khartoum, Sudan, resides the archeological site that contains remnants of a once flourishing civilization that left behind remains of royal palaces, temples, residential areas, manufacturing areas and even impressive pyramid fields. This archeological site unravels the mysteries of the ancient city of Meroe, the capital of the Kingdom of Kush or sometimes also called the kingdom of Meroe.

From middle Stone Age archeological evidence, we know that Kush already probably had various forms of technology: Astronomy, Language, Projectile weapons, fire, Clothes and sewing needles, Fishing, Burial practices, Agriculture, Art, Long-distance trade, Algorithms, Annual ceremonies, Ink, Beds, Boats, Calculator, Compound glue, Mining, Javelins, spears, siege tactics, maces, and Religion.

Uniquely, these people built 255 pyramids, had a 365-day calendar with a leap year, had ambassadors in Egypt (according to Diodorus Siculus), elected their leaders, had writing (Meroitic cursive and Meroitic hieroglyphs), and for those interested in skin colour they were majority black (although not Sub-Sahara).

Uniquely, these people introduced cotton to the world around 5,000 BCE and academics believe used warfare for the first in the world 14,000 BCE to 12,000 BCE. Social stratification appears in the archaeological records around 8,000 BCE.

From 2,500 BCE to 1,500 BCE these people belonged to the kingdom of Kerma. Around 1,500 BCE this region was conquered by Egypt and “Egyptianised”. Either they produced no writing between 2,500 BCE to 1,500 BCE or traces of it were destroyed during Egyptian occupation. Around 1,069 BCE they regained their independence. During which point the Meriotic writing system developed.

Later, after 1,000 BCE Meroe had a network of temples for Amun-Re and the Lion God, similar to how the Anglican Church in post reformation England was divided into Parishes. These temples had courtyards, halls, chambers and chapels.

The Kushite empire at its peak ruled all of Egypt and to the south the Batwezi kingdom in Uganda claimed they were previously ruled by the Kingdom of Kush.

Speakers of the cushite language group are today found in Kenya and Uganda (from 3,000 BCE - 1,000 BCE), Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Somalia where they have intermarried with the speakers of Oromo, Bantu & in rare case Khoi San.

An empire is a collection of states or countries with their local political systems ruled one imperial state. Which is why at its peak the Kingdom of Kush was an empire measuring potentially 2.9 million square kilometres.

Throughout its neighbours Kush had access to West Africa (the land of Yam) through Ta-akhetiu (Chad), to the Magreb through Meshwesh (Libya) to Central Africa through South Sudan and Uganda, to the Mediterranean through Wawat (Lower Nubia) and Egypt, and trade access to Red Sea trade routes with regions such as Punt (possibly modern-day Eritrea or Ethiopia), Magan (likely modern-day Oman), and Dilmun (possibly modern-day Bahrain).

Through Egypt, Kush had access to Amurru (ancient region in modern-day Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan), Babylon (ancient Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq), Byblos (ancient Phoenician city in modern-day Lebanon), Canaan (modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and parts of Syria and Jordan), Crete (island in the Eastern Mediterranean), Cyprus (island in the Eastern Mediterranean), Hittite Empire (modern-day Turkey), Ionia (ancient region in western Anatolia), Knossos (ancient Minoan city on the island of Crete), Libya (North African region west of Egypt), Melos (island in the Aegean Sea), Miletus (ancient Greek city in Anatolia), Mitanni (modern-day Syria and Iraq), Minoan civilization (ancient civilization centered on Crete), Mycenae (ancient Greek city-state in Peloponnese), Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon and parts of Syria), Rhodes (island in the Eastern Mediterranean), Sardinia (island in the Mediterranean Sea), Troy (ancient city in modern-day Turkey), Tyre (ancient Phoenician city in modern-day Lebanon), Ugarit (ancient city-state in modern-day Syria).

This story covers the period from 1,069 BCE to 350 AD and focussed how they governed themselves.

To find out what happened after Kush dissolved read the post about Makuria.

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