Click here for larger view. Map of Nubia
map nubia
Click here for larger view. Map of Sudan
map sudan

Nubia is part of the modern day country of Sudan. Historically the land of Nubia stretched roughly from Aswan (in what is today Egypt) in the north, to Kosti city, along the White Nile, and Sinnar city, along the Blue Nile, in the south; and from the Red Sea coast in the east, to Kordofan and the Libyan Desert in the west.

Most of Sudan's topography is consisted of deserts, except for the narrow strip of the Nile valley which provided fertile agriculture and abundant pasture for the settled human communities of ancient Nubia. Because of the availability of food along the Nile Valley, human communities there grew in number more than in any other location in Sudan. As a result, the first unified civilization in the world developed there.

Nubian herder (Sudan)

However unlike the Nile valley of Egypt, many portions of the Nile valley in Nubia are and were not supportive for extensive agriculture. As a result, pasture remains a main source of food in Nubia. From Aswan to Lower Wadi Halfa the Nile cut through a barren stretch of desert that is not supportive for the living of any sort of human community.

Five Cataracts interrupt the flow of the Nile from south of Aswan to little north of the city of Berber in central Sudan. This makes sailing impossible except for the short distances that separate from one Cataract to the other. Agricultural lands are available in the Dongola Reach and along the curve of the Nile Valley as far south as Abu Hamed. This fertile region of the Nile valley produced enough agricultural supply for prominent Nubian kingdoms and cities to develop.

Villagers crossing the Nile, northern Sudan.
Sudan Nile
Villagers crossing the Nile, northern Sudan.

Around the Dongola Reach and south in the Bayuda desert are also plenty of pastural lands. From Abu Hamed to the city of Berber south, the Nile valley becomes less fertile. However, south of Berber, the Nile valley becomes fertile and supportive for extensive agriculture. There in these southern portions of the Nile valley, prominent ancient Nubian cities grew, such as Dangeil and Meroe.

However; immediately south of Khartoum, where the White and the Blue Niles converge, is the so-called land of el-Gezeera (In Arabic meaning the island). This region is more fertile than any other region in Northern Sudan. The area of el-Gezeera is liable for extensive agriculture and has been supportive for Nubian settlements sine ancient times. Prominent Nubian cities grew in el-Gazeera, like the Funj city of Sinnar along the White Nile and the Kushite settlement of Kosti along the White Nile.

Elmogran(i.e. Arabic word for convergence), where the White and Blue Niles converge at Khartoum (Capital of Sudan) and the historic Omdurman Bridge.
Khartoum Nubia
Urban scene from the Nile valley near Khartoum.
Khartoum Sudan

East of the Nile Valley is the Nubian Desert, where permanent human settlements becomes impossible. There along the Sudanese Red Sea coasts, the Beja formed their own communities depending mainly on pasture and subsistent agriculture in the more southerly regions of el-Butana (in Southeastern Sudan). An agricultural culture known as the Gash-culture flourished south and east of el-Buttana, along the Gash river, in ancient times. The people of this culture have been identified as the Punites, who developed their own chiefdoms out of trade in incense and exotic items. The Punites traded with neighboring regions, including Nubia and Egypt.

Beja nomads in Eastern Sudan.
The Red Sea Port of Suakin in Eastern Sudan.

The Libyan Deserts, west of Nubia, is consisted of ,almost, endless stretches of sand-dunes that dominate the landscape and continue across Sahara deserts of north and central Africa all the way to the opposite side of the African continent. Extremely little rainfall occur in the Libyan deserts and only few regions and oasis are supportive for pastural activities. South of the Libyan desert and adjacent to the White Nile, is the region of Kordofan where the land is little more fertile than in Libyan deserts, subsistent agricultural communities flourished growing few crops every season. The youth of these communities annually crossed the Libyan deserts to the north in search of pasture for their animals.

The primary material of the website is authored by Ibrahim Omer © 2008.