Kingdom of Kush

The Kingdom of Kush (/kʊʃ, kʌʃ/; Egyptian: 𓎡𓄿𓈙𓈉 kꜣš, Assyrian: Ku-u-si, in LXX Ancient Greek: Κυς and Κυσι; Coptic: ⲉϭⲱϣ; Hebrew: כּוּשׁ) was an ancient kingdom in Nubia, centered along the Nile Valley in what is now northern Sudan and southern Egypt.

Kingdom of Kush
c.1000 BC  c.350 AD
Kushite heartland, and Kushite Empire of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt, circa 700 BC.[3]
CapitalKerma, Napata, Meroë
Common languagesMeroitic language, Nubian languages, Egyptian,[4] Cushitic[5]
Ancient Egyptian Religion
Historical eraBronze Age to Late Antiquity
c.1000 BC 
 Capital moved to Meroe
591 BC
 c.350 AD
 Meroite phase[6]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
New Kingdom of Egypt
Kingdom of Aksum
X-Group culture
Today part ofSudan

The region of Nubia was an early cradle of civilization, producing several complex societies that engaged in trade and industry.[7] The city-state of Kerma emerged as the dominant political force between 2450 and 1450 BC, controlling the Nile Valley between the first and fourth cataracts, an area as large as Egypt. The Egyptians were the first to identify Kerma as “Kush" and over the next several centuries the two civilizations engaged in intermittent warfare, trade, and cultural exchange.[8]

Much of Nubia came under Egyptian rule during the New Kingdom period (1550–1070 BC). Following Egypt's disintegration amid the Late Bronze Age collapse, the Kushites reestablished a kingdom in Napata (now modern Karima, Sudan). Though Kush had developed many cultural affinities with Egypt, such as the veneration of Amun, and the royal families of both kingdoms often intermarried, Kushite culture was distinct; Egyptian art distinguished the people of Kush by their dress, appearance, and even method of transportation.[7]

King Kashta ("the Kushite") peacefully became King of Upper Egypt, while his daughter, Amenirdis, was appointed as Divine Adoratrice of Amun in Thebes.[9] Piye invaded Lower Egypt in the eighth century BC, establishing the Kushite-ruled Twenty-fifth Dynasty. Piye's daughter, Shepenupet II, was also appointed Divine Adoratrice of Amun. The monarchs of Kush ruled Egypt for over a century until the Assyrian conquest, finally being expelled by the Egyptian Psamtik I in the mid-seventh century BC. Following the severing of ties with Egypt, the Kushite imperial capital was located at Meroë, during which time it was known by the Greeks as Aethiopia.

From the 3rd century BC to 3rd AD century, northern Nubia would be invaded and annexed to Egypt. Ruled by the Macedonians and Romans for the next 600 years, this territory would be known in the Greco-Roman world as Dodekaschoinos. It was later taken back under control by the fourth Kushite king Yesebokheamani. The Kingdom of Kush persisted as a major regional power until the fourth century AD when it weakened and disintegrated from internal rebellion amid worsening climatic conditions. Meroë was captured and destroyed by the Kingdom of Aksum, marking the end of the kingdom and its dissolution into the three polities of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia.

Long overshadowed by its more prominent Egyptian neighbor, archaeological discoveries since the late 20th century have revealed Kush to be an advanced civilization in its own right. The Kushites had their own unique language and script; maintained a complex economy based on trade and industry; mastered archery; and developed a complex, urban society with uniquely high levels of female participation.[10]