top of page
Nubian evacuation from Lake Nasser
henna painting.jpg

More about Nubia

The Nubian civilization is one of the oldest in the world.
Because no written language has been transmitted, but Nubian has survived exclusively as a spoken language, little research has been done into Nubian culture.

Nubian history, however, has undergone a particularly rich development. Ancient Nubia itself had gold mines and the area was on the main trade route with the rest of Africa. Moreover, the Nubians ruled over Egypt some 2,500 years ago. In this period of the black pharaohs, the pharaonic Egypt has undergone enormous revival.

Nubians also form an important population group in modern Egypt (around 6 million, some of which can also be found further upstream in Sudan (Dongola). Most Nubians live in villages along the banks of the Nile between Aswan and Luxor, much around Kom Ombo.

Aswan Dam
Due to the construction of the dam at Aswan, the Nubians lost their original habitat. It disappeared under the water of the Nassermeer that was created by the construction of the dam. Half of the Nubians settled in Sudan, the other part was evacuated to the south of Egypt. More information

Nubian language

The language of the Nubians is independent of Arabic and is an African language. The spoken Nubian can be divided into the Fiadidja-Mahas and the Kenuzi-Dongola. The Fiadidje-Mahas is spoken in Sudan, although more than 50% of Nubians in Egypt belong to the Fiadidja. In Egypt this language is spoken by all Nubians south of Kunuz. Fadidja and Mahas are two variants that hardly differ from each other. The Kenuzi-Dongola is spoken by the Nubians of Dongola in Sudan and Kunuz in Egypt. Most people from Dongola and Kunuz understand those who speak Fadidja-Mahas. Learn more

Nubian culture

When the Nubians had to leave their original habitat due to the emergence of Lake Nassermeer, it was feared that Nubian culture would disappear. Certainly with regard to music culture, those gloomy predictions have not come true. On the contrary, Nubian music is very popular in Egypt and abroad, among other things because many songs are also performed in Arabic (with a Nubian accent). Nubian music has also been an important source of influence for the blues.

Nubian music new style has a growing number of fans, not only inside but also outside the Nubian community.

The Nubians also have their own dance styles, which are passed on from generation to generation (including weddings) and with which many tourists are introduced by performances of Nubian folklore groups on cruise boats and in hotels.

New perspective on Nubia


From 1907 to 1928, various excavations were made in Nubia by the American Egyptologist George Reisner. The heritage was threatened by the construction of dams and treasure diggers. He took part of the finds to America according to agreement, the other part was donated to museums in Khartoum and Cairo.

Reisner was trained as an Egyptologist, so he mainly looked at Nubia as a peripheral area of ​​Egypt. But the region was much more than just a peripheral area.

In ancient times, Nubia was the trade center between Egypt, Central Africa and the areas around the Red Sea. The Nubians produced one of the world's most refined forms of earthenware and had their own writing that is still not understood to this day. Nubia has left an important mark on the history of the region. The Nubian culture has a strongly developed identity with influences from ancient Egypt.

Black Pharaohs
The impressive treasures from the period of 2400 BC. up to 350 AD. tell the story of the love-hate relationship between ancient Egypt and the Nubian kingdoms.

In the period between 750 and 664 BC. the Nubians conquered Egypt and ruled the Egyptian Empire. The Black Pharaohs brought about a cultural renewal in Nubia and Egypt during this period.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Scientists from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston were involved from 1907 to 1928 in the excavations of the finds in Nubia. This makes the American museum the only one in the world with such a versatile Nubian collection. With masterpieces such as the finds from the pyramid of King Taharqa and the gold jewels from other Nubian pyramids, including those of several Nubian queens.


Source: Drenthe museum, Assen. Exhibition Nubia; Land of the Black Pharaohs. Dec. 16 2018 to 5 May 2019

bottom of page