Early history of Sudan
Archaeological evidence has confirmed that the area in the north of Sudan was inhabited at least sixty thousand years ago. A settled culture appeared in the area around 8000 BC, living in fortified mud-brick villages, where they subsisted on hunting and fishing, as well as grain gathering and cattle herding.
The area was known to the Egyptians as Kush and had strong cultural and religious ties to Egypt. In the eighth century BC, however, Kush came under the rule of an aggressive line of monarchs, ruling from the capital city, Napata, who gradually extended their influence into Egypt. About 750 BC, a Cushite king called Kashta conquered Upper Egypt and became ruler of Thebes until approximately 740 BC. His successor, Piankhy, subdued the delta, reunited Egypt under the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, and founded a line of kings who ruled Cush and Thebes for about a hundred years. The dynasty's intervention in the area of modern Syria caused a confrontation between Egypt and Assyria. When the Assyrians in retaliation invaded Egypt, Taharqa (688-663 BC), the last Cushite pharaoh, withdrew and returned the dynasty to Napata, where it continued to rule Cush and extended its dominions to the south and east.
In 590 BC, an Egyptian army sacked Napata, compelling the Cushite court to move to Meroe near the sixth cataract. The Meroitic kingdom subsequently developed independently of Egypt, and during the height of its power in the second and third centuries BC, Meroe extended over a region from the third cataract in the north to Sawba, near present-day Khartoum (the modern day capital of Sudan).
The pharaonic tradition persisted among Meroe's rulers , who raised stelae to record the achievements of their reigns and erected pyramids to contain their tombs. These objects and the ruins of palaces, temples, and baths at Meroe attest to a centralized political system that employed artisans' skills and commanded the labor of a large work force. A well-managed irrigation system allowed the area to support a higher population density than was possible during later periods. By the first century BC, the use of hieroglyphs gave way to a Meroitic script that adapted the Egyptian writing system to an indigenous, Nubian-related language spoken later by the region's people.
In the second century AD, the people known as the Nobatae occupied the Nile's west bank in northern Cush. eventually they intermarried and established themselves among the Meroitic people as a military aristocracy. Until nearly the fifth century, Rome subsidized the Nobatae and used Meroe as a buffer between Egypt and the Blemmyes. About AD 350, an Axumite army from Abbyssinia captured and destroyed Meroe city, ending the kingdom's independent existence.
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