Introduction to Ancient Nubia
In ancient times, the people living along the banks of the river Nile developed sophisticated civilizations. Ancient Egypt,
stretching from the First Cataract to the Mediterranean Sea, is probably the most well-known ancient culture in this
area. This web page illustrates the art and life-styles of a less well-known groups of people, the Nubian's. The Nubian's
inhabited the area along the river Nile from the First Cataract south to the Sixth Cataract.
The cataracts serve as markers of Nubia's borders. The First Cataract, just to the south of Aswan, marks the northern boundary of Nubia. The southern border, though it fluctuated over time, lies near the Sixth Cataract. The eastern and western borders are generally marked by the extent of the cultivated fields on either side of the river. The cataracts also divide Nubia into different zones, which differ from one to another topographically. Nubia is generally divided into Lower Nubia, Upper Nubia, and Southern Nubia.
The landscape in Lower Nubia is quite different from that of Upper Nubia. The Nile Valley in Lower Nubia is similar to the Nile Valley in Egypt. The river here is broad and easily navigated, with a wide floodplain available for cultivation. Upper Nubia on the other hand, often presents a much harsher environment. Based on topography, Upper Nubia and Southern Nubia can be divided into five zones: (1) Batn el Hajar, (2) Abri-Delgo Reach, (3) Dongola Reach, (4) Abu Hamed Reach, and (5) Shendi Reach. Each of these zones, defined by cataracts, display a different type of riverine environment.