Ancient Nubia Essay Research Paper Definition of

Ancient Nubia Essay, Research Paper

Definition of a civilization

According to my definition of a civilization the ancient Nubian qualify in all fields. They have achieved a division of labor, which sparked advanced government, a written language, advanced technology, and a calendar.

Division of labor

During the Neolithic age, the Nubian people abandoned their hunter-gatherer society and adopted a new way of life, one with farming and raising animals. It created a division of labor. In the early stages there were a few basic occupations one could pursue. Farming, ranching, and medicine making were the most common of the early careers.

As the Nubian civilization evolved many other occupations became available to the people. There were need for hotels, markets, bathhouses, artist, priest, and blacksmiths. One could also take a career as a politician, military officer, record keeper or other careers related to the government. Trading was another way to go. Many people made a living by managing the trade with other countries or working on the trade ships. The division of labor required Nubian s to stay in one area rather than travel the land by seasons, and in turn that spawned all other aspects of their civilization.

Advanced government

Before the Nubians had kings or chiefs the people that usually controlled the population controlled the trade. Trade managers were the people who took farmer s cattle or crops and traded them up the river for whatever the farmer wanted. Nubia depended heavily on trade. Without it they would surely perish. Because of this, trade managers eventually became the official rulers of Nubia. Nubia had established an early form of monarchy supported by three different rulers. The royal crown prince, the general of the river, and the prince of akin were the three main areas of power. All of these positions were hereditary. Though the rulers were the all-deciding power, religion played an important role in government, therefore priest, chosen by the kings, advised them in their decisions. Over time these priest became much like a legislature. They would discuss situations and laws, then report their conclusions to the king for the final decision.

Written language

The language written and spoken by Nubians actually came from Egypt. They started speaking it around 2000 b.c.c and began writing it between 900-600 b.c.c. The hieroglyphic script was mainly for royal or religious texts craved in stone. Though scarce, hieratic was used for letters, records, and things of that sort. It was a kind of shorthand hieroglyphic. The hieroglyphic script has about 750 signs. Most are pictures of people, animals, plants, or objects. Royal or holy names were written in a frame called cartouche to emphasize their importance.

There are two main types of sign: sound-signs and sense-signs. Sound-signs can represent from one to four consonants. The vowels were not written out. A sense-sign can be used to write a word of placed after a word to show the area of meaning. For example, verbs of motion have a pair of legs attached. Usually noble men and priest were the only one s who knew the written language. All Nubians understood the spoken language.

Advanced technology

The technology created by Nubia consisted of black smithing, irrigation, and materials but research in the area of construction and architecture dominated by far. Huge, multilevel and multi roomed tombs were constructed for fallen kings. The tombs, constructed as pyramids, were built with stone. Size usually varied from 45 ft wide and 375 ft high to 80 ft wide and 665 ft high. The pyramids were also very steep. The common slope angle was between 60 and 70 degrees. Of these pyramids the largest stretches 90 ft across and 750 ft high with a slope angle of 70 degrees.

Among other constructions the Nubians built walls around all of their major cities. Houses were built of burned brick or mud mortar plastered stone slabs.

The Nubians were also skilled blacksmiths. They discovered bronze along with many other metals. They used these to create swords, knives, arrow tips, axes, hammers, and frying pans.

Of all these achievements, the creation of the Saqia is the greatest. The Saqia is a type of animal driven water wheel probably invented in Mesopotamia. An ox is used to turn a large wheel, set parallel to the ground. The movement of the first wheel causes a second vertical wheel to revolve: the second wheel, in turn, causes a third wheel, around which are set rows of small pots, to rotate through the source of water. The small pots fill with water as they revolve; when they reach the top of the wheel, they tip over and spill water into a trough, where it runs off into irrigation.


The one thing that has no physical proof of existence in Nubia s civilization is a calendar. Since the civilization is so old, archaeologist have had a hard time coming of with any physical proof pointing to the existence of a Nubian calendar. Though no physical evidence supports a calendar, it is known that the Nubians were very successful farmers. They were widely known for their farming skills. Many neighboring civilizations traded with the Nubians for their crops because they were of such good quality and abundance. Having stated that, It would make good sense to believe the Nubians did have a calendar.


With this evidence, one can say the Nubian s were in fact a civilization. Though the Nubian s had their own form of government and a few technological discoveries they could call their own, they were destined to be followers. Eventually Nubia assimilated into a much more advanced civilization known as Egypt. Nubian people speak and write with the Egyptian language, and follow much of what Egypt does. It was no different 3000 years ago. That’s why Nubia is now part of Egypt.


Addams, William Y. Nubia: Corridor to Africa. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977.

Haynes, Joyce L. Nubia: Ancient Kingdoms of Africa. Wilmington, MA: Acme Printing Company, 1992.

Trigger, Bruce G. Nubia Under the Pharaohs. London: Thames and Hudson, 1976. The land and it s people , Nubia through the ages , Economic importance : no authors or dates.


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