• KiAfriqa

Kush, the overlooked ancient global Superpower that predates Egypt, Babylonia, Greece & Rome.

An illustration depicting King Taharqa ©face2faceafrica

The Kingdom of Kush, also known as the Kingdom of Napata, the Kingdom of Kerma, the Meroitic Kingdom or sometimes called Nubia by some people, was a vast, powerful empire that dominated global affairs.

The Great Pyramid of Giza in Cairo is rightly considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. But travel further south along the River Nile and you will find a thousand pyramids that belonged to the Kingdom of Kush, in what is now Sudan.

Early humans existed in Sudan for tens of thousands of years. By 5000 BC we know that people in what is currently northern Sudan lived by fishing, hunting, and basic farming. There is evidence they raised cattle too.

In the writing of African history mostly by western scholars, the influence of Kush has been largely overlooked. The eurocentric scholars always thought that Kush was younger than Egypt and has been always copying Egypt. They didn't give Kush the credit it deserves. Kush was a very advanced state and its civilization predated Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, and Rome.

Kush was known for its very powerful army. Egyptians called it "The Land of the bow" because of their skills with the bow. They had very fierce archers. Both Kush and Egypt influenced each other, worshiped almost the same gods and the exchange of ideas went both ways, however Kush was a powerful state, and Egyptians knew that.

At one point Kushites succeeded in increasing their control of trans-African trade through the Sahara to the detriment of Egypt. Kush became an African superpower and its influence extended to what is now called the Middle East. At the height of her powers, the kingdom of Kush was ruled by King Taharqa, a black African who inherited and consolidated the empire.

The kingdom lasted for many hundreds of years and in the 8th century BC, it conquered Egypt and governed it for the best part of that century.

What remains of the kingdom is equally impressive. More than 300 of their pyramids are still intact, almost untouched. Some of the best examples can be found in Jebel Barkal in northern Sudan, declared a world heritage site by the UN's cultural agency, Unesco.

There you can find pyramids, tombs, temples, and burial chambers complete with painted scenes and writings that Unesco describes as masterpieces "of creative genius demonstrating the artistic, social, political, and religious values of a human group for more than 2,000 years".

The story of Kush, a vast empire stretching from central Sudan to the Mediterranean, bordering Libya and Palestine, where queens could rule in their own right, is often neglected. It was a superpower militarily, politically, and economically until they were defeated by the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the Assyrian conquest of Egypt.

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