Nubia (nōˈbēə) [key], ancient state of NE Africa. At the height of its political power Nubia extended, from north to south, from the First Cataract of the Nile (near Aswan, Egypt) to Khartoum, in Sudan. It early came under the influence of the pharaohs, and in the 20th cent. B.C. Seti I completed the occupation of the area. Many centuries later Egypt itself was ruled (8th and 7th cent. B.C.) by conquering Nubians of the Cush (Kush) kingdom. Later, after the Assyrians expelled (c.667 B.C.) Taharka from Egypt, the Cushite capital was moved (c.530) from Napata to Meroë. Meroë fell (c.350) to the Ethiopians and was abandoned. The region then came under the sway of the Nobatae, an ethnic group that mixed with the indigenous stock and formed a powerful kingdom with its capital at Dongola. The kingdom was converted to Christianity in the 6th cent. A.D. Joined with the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia, it long resisted Muslim encroachment, but in the 14th cent. it finally collapsed. Nubia was then broken up into many petty states. Muhammad Ali of Egypt conquered (1820–22) Nubia, and in the late 19th cent. much of the area was held by supporters of the Mahdi.
See A. J. Arkell, A History of the Sudan to A.D. 1821 (1955).
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