A. Earliest Nubia
B. From Hunting to Gathering to Self-Subsistence
C. A-Group and C-Group Cultures
D. Lower Nubia: 2500-2000 BC
E. Upper Nubia: 2500-2000 BC
F. Kerma and the Kingdom of Kush
G. The Egyptian Conquest of Nubia
H. Kushite Resurgence
I. The Napatan State
J. The Meriotic State
K. From Unity to Fragmentation
L. The Nubian Christian Kingdoms
M. Nubia and Islam
A. The Earliest Peoples in Nubia: The Old Stone Age (Paleolithic)1. Nubia's Early Hunters
The earliest remains of man have been recovered in South Africa and Kenya, dating back approximately four million years. If environmental conditions in Sudan were as conducive to preserving skeletal remains as they are in these areas, there is no doubt that equally ancient remains would be found there. Until now, the earliest traces of man in Nubia and Sudan have been only the tools he created and used. The earliest tool type used by man was the large rough hand axe with one pointed and another rounded end. The pointed end was used for hammering; the rounded end was held in the closed palm of the hand. Such tools have been found from central Sudan to the Nile Delta and throughout the Sahara, and they are hardly different from those found all over Europe and Asia. Such tools have been identified with the species of early man called homo erectus.
Throughout the last 100,000 years, the Nile Valley and Sahara underwent many dry and wet phases, which over such a span of time would have constantly altered man's habitat. We do not know what the people who used these tools looked like, but they were surely hunters and would have migrated in bands, supplementing their diet with gathered fruits, nuts and vegetables. This uniform early Paleolithic tool "culture" is known as the Achulean, and it existed from about 500,000 to 50,000 years ago.
2. Nubia's Oldest House?
Some of the most important evidence of early man in Nubia was discovered recently by an expedition of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, under the direction of Dr. Kryzstof Grzymski, on the east bank of the Nile, about 70 miles (116 km) south of Dongola, Sudan. During the early 1990's, this team discovered several sites containing hundreds of Paleolithic hand axes. At one site, however, the team identified an apparent stone tool workshop, where thousands of sandstone hand axes and flakes lay on the ground around a row of large stones set in a line, suggesting the remains of a shelter. This seems to be the earliest "habitation" site yet discovered in the Nile Valley and may be up to 70,000 years old.
What the Nubian environment was like throughout these distant times, we cannot know with certainty, but it must have changed many times. For many thousands of years it was probably far different than what it is today. Between about 50,000 to 25,000 years ago, the hand axe gradually disappeared and was replaced with numerous distinctive chipped stone industries that varied from region to region, suggesting the presence in Nubia of many different peoples or tribal groups dwelling in close proximity to each other. When we first encounter skeletal remains in Nubia, they are those of modern man: homo sapiens.
3. Nubia's Oldest Battle?
From about 25,000 to 8,000 years ago, the environment gradually evolved to its present state. From this phase several very early settlement sites have been identified at the Second Cataract, near the Egypt-Sudan border. These appear to have been used seasonally by people leading a semi-nomadic existence. The people hunted, fished, and ground wild grain. The first cemeteries also appear, suggesting that people may have been living at least partly sedentary lives. One cemetery site at Jebel Sahaba, near Wadi Halfa, Sudan, contained a number of bodies that had suffered violent deaths and were buried in a mass grave. This suggests that people, even 10,000 years ago, had begun to compete with each other for resources and were willing to kill each other to control them.
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