Medieval Nubia and Byzantium

A little known fact about Byzantine spirituality and culture is their long-term influence in the independent Christian kingdoms of the Nubian peoples located in the regions of present day Sudan. Byzantine spirituality and culture, not totally unknown in these regions from the establishment of the Empire, appear to have been embraced by the Nubians during the reign of Justinian and Theodora. This influence lasted one thousand years, until the Islamic assault on these kingdoms finally succeeded. 

True to the Byzantine values of tolerance and diversity in unity and the inherent precedents for synthesis, one finds a remarkable fusion of spiritual, linguistic, administrative and aesthetic manifestations of Byzantine culture with the Nubian genius. Today this fusion remains most evident in the frescoes of the rock churches, many of whose treasures have been rescued by the effort of the Polish archaeological team that worked in Faras, and other sites in the Sudan in the middle of the twentieth century.

Below we are pleased to present to our readers the text of the now out-of-print 1954 pamphlet of the Sudan Antiquities Service, by P.L. Shinnie, entitled Medieval Nubia, which chronicles the history and the remaining archaeological and artistic evidence of this remarkable fusion of cultures, a fusion based on the common grounds of Christian faith and an adaptation of what was deemed good and useful to the Nubian peoples. One wonders if the sense of identity and cultural self-awareness witnessed by this fusion contributes in some part to the modern-day identity of the Christian peoples of southern Sudan who today are still struggling to maintain their faith, culture, and their independence.


MEDIEVAL NUBIA
by  P.L. Shinnie

SUDAN ANTIQUITIES SERVICE,  Khartoum 1954

FIG. 1. MAP OF MEDIEVAL NUBIA

The conversion of the Nubian peoples to Christianity in the sixth century A.D. began a period of cultural and political advance in the Sudan, and gave cohesion to the riverain kingdoms already existing before the arrival of the missionaries. Combining with the underlying native culture, new elements from the Mediterranean produced an intellectual and artistic activity, shown in the archaeological remains, which contradicts the impression of barbarism gained from reading the mainly hostile Arabic accounts of the country.

reconstruction of Nubian church (after Mileham)

The period, which lasted in different areas for nearly 1,000 years, is a period of Sudan history little studied, and often dismissed as of little account. A study of the literary and archaeological remains, however, shows it to have been a time of flowering of artistic endeavour and of political power, with an important and interesting history which has left a permanent mark on the country, and helped to form the characteristic riverain culture of the northern Sudan. 

During this time the kingdom of Nubia was a power and its kings treated as equals with those of Egypt and other countries of the Near East. Its chief legacy to modern times is in the Nubian language, spoken in various dialects from Silsileh in Egypt to Debba in the Sudan, and which, in spite of being surrounded for centuries by Arabic speech, has maintained its hold on the people and is still vigorous and cherished, although no longer written.

Its culture was predominantly that of a nation of riverain peasant cultivators, as are the modern Nubians, but it maintained contact with and influenced peoples in the desert to east and west. Pieces of the characteristic pottery of the kingdom of Dongola have been found in the Khor Nubt in the Red Sea Hills, and an inscription in Old Nubian has been found in the Abu Negila hills of northern Kordofan.

Where these people of Nubian speech came from may never be known with certainty, but the close resemblances between some of the languages of the Nuba hills, of Jebel Meidob, in the far west, and river Nubian suggests that they came from the west and south west. The inscription of the Axumite king Aezanes in the year A.D. 350 speaks of 'Noba' at Merod. This may well refer to Nubians, and if so, it is their first appearance in history. 

In the year A.D. 297 the Roman Emperor Diocletian called in a people known as the Nobate from the oases of the western Egyptian desert, to defend the southern frontier of his Empire at Aswan from the raids of the Blemmyes, who arc probably the Beja of the Red Sea Hills.

These Noba and Nobatae settled along the river, and soon the original population had intermarried with them and adopted their language. The Blemmyes were defeated, as is known from the Greek inscription of Silko at Kalabsha which may be dated about A.D. 530. Here Silko, who calls himself 'Basiliskos' or kinglet of the Nobatae, describes fighting the Blemmyes from Ibrim to Shellal and extracting an oath of submission from them.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS

Maiestas Crucis, second half of the 10th century

Three Nubian kingdoms arose on the ruins of Meroitic power and are first known to history from the accounts of sixth century missionary activity given by the Syrian writer John of Ephesus. In the north, from the First to the Third Cataracts, was the kingdom of Nobatia, with its capital at Faras; south of it and stretching as far as the place known to Arab writers as El Abwab, 'the doors', thought to be near the modern village of Kabushia, was Makuria, with its capital at Old Dongola; and further south again, the kingdom of Alwah (or Alodia), whose capital, Soba, is close to Khartoum.

In the account of John of Ephesus, two missions set out from Constantinople in about the year A.D. 540, one representing the orthodox or Melkite party, and under the patronage of the Emperor Justinian, the other, supported by the Empress Theodora, was of the Monophysite theology, which had been declared heretical a hundred years before at the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451).

John's account shows that the monophysites were everywhere successful at the expense of their orthodox rivals, but, since he was himself a strong supporter of monophysitism, his account cannot be accepted as entirely unbiased, and there is some evidence to show that the orthodox missionaries had greater influence than John's account would suggest.

According to this account Theodora was able, by threatening the Duke of the Thebaid, the Byzantine governor of Upper Egypt, to have the orthodox mission held up while the monophysites, led by a priest named Julian, went ahead to Nubia, arriving there about A.D. 543. Julian remained in Nobatia for two years, having considerable success in converting the pagan Nubians. The general authenticity of John of Ephesus' account is borne out by the vividness of some of his descriptions, as when talking of the heat of summer he says:

" For he (Julian) used to say that, from nine o'clock until four in the afternoon he was obliged to take refuge in caverns, full of water, where he sat undressed and girt only in a linen garment, such as the people of the country wear. "

This must surely be a direct quotation from Julian and brings vividly to the minds of those who know it, the intense summer heat of the area between the First and Third Cataracts.

After Julian's return to Constantinople, Longinus was appointed to succeed him in charge of the Nubian mission, but it was not until about the year A.D. 569 that he arrived in Nubia. Earlier attempts had been forestalled by the orders of Justinian, and finally it was only by disguising himself "Aware that he was watched and would not be permitted to leave, he disguised himself and put a wig on his head, for he was very bald"  that he was able to get away from Byzantium."

For the next ten years, except for a period of three years spent in Egypt, Longinus worked amongst the Nubians and in A.D. 580 went south, at the request of the king of Alwah, to spread the gospel amongst the people of that kingdom. The journey was hazardous and, owing to the hostility of the kingdom of Makuria, he was not able to go by the river route. The reason for this hostility may well be that the Maccuritae had been converted by the rival orthodox mission and were not willing to help in the spreading of what they considered heresy. As a result of this hostility Longinus had to go far to the east, and was entrusted to the king of the Beja for safe conduct. John of Ephesus says:

"But because of the wicked devices of him who dwells  between us, I sent my saintly father to the king of the Blemmys that he might conduct him thither by routes further inland; but the Makaritaes heard also of this, and set people on the look-out in all the areas of his  kingdom, both in the mountains and in the plains."

Arriving in Soba in this year, he seems to have had rapid success in converting the king and his followers.

Thus, by A.D. 580, Christianity had become the official religion of the northern Sudan. If our main literary sources are to be believed, Nobatia and Alwah were Monophysite and Makuria and the nomad Garamantes Melkite. But a study of the tombstones which have been found in considerable numbers, presents rather a different picture ; most of these tombstones are in Greek and the prayers for the deceased inscribed on them are those in use in the orthodox church. We also know that there was at one time a Melkite Bishop of Taifa, in Egyptian Nubia, so it may well be that the very partial story of John of Ephesus has overstated the Monophysite case and that there was a Melkite church in Nobatia as well as Makuria.

CONTACT WITH ARABS

From this time on, knowledge of the history of the country is obtained almost exclusively from Arab sources, there being very little native information obtainable. The Arab conquest of Egypt in A.D. 640 had a profound effect on Nubia ; after only sixty years her contacts with Byzantium were broken and, though contact was maintained with Christian elements in Egypt, the Mediterranean content of religion and culture became weaker as time went on. 

In view of the barrier imposed by an Islamic and Arabic speaking Egypt, it is remarkable how the Byzantine character of the art was maintained, and that Greek was still in use in A.D. 1181, the date on a tombstone of one Parthenius found at Faras, and the latest Greek inscription known from the Sudan.

The Arab conquerors of Egypt soon came into conflict with the Nubians, and their first raid was made in A.D. 641. These early attacks were only predatory raids and there was no intention of occupying the country ; the Nubians fought stoutly and gained a reputation amongst the Arabs as skilful archers, who specialized in blinding their opponents by shooting at their eyes; they were known to the Arabs as rumat al-hadaq, "pupil-smiters ". Soon after these first raids, a treaty known as the Baqt, from the Greek pakton, a pact, was concluded, by which the Nubians supplied annually four hundred slaves in return for foodstuffs and cloth.

In A.D. 652 Arab attacks recommenced and the Arab writer, Maqrizi, recounts that they penetrated as far as Old Dongola, where the principal church was destroyed, with stones thrown from catapults, and the king Kalidurut sued for peace. It is certain that it was no easy victory and an Arab poet wrote:

"My eyes ne'er saw another fight like Dongola, with rushing horses loaded down with coats of mail ". 

In spite of this victory the Arabs had no wish to occupy the comparatively poor country of Nubia in face of the fierce resistance of its inhabitants, so different from that of the Copts in Egypt, who had helped the invaders against the hated Byzantine rulers.

The Theotokos Hodegetria (ca. 707)

KINGDOM OF DONGOLA

At some date between A.D. 650 and A.D. 710 the two countries of Nobatia and Makuria became one. The conditions under which this unification came about, and its exact date, are obscure. If the king Merkurios, who has left an inscription in the temple at Taifa, which is in the territory of Nobatia, dated A.D. 710, is the same as the Merkurios king of Dongola, who is referred to as the " New Constantine ", then it would seem that Makuria had conquered the northern kingdom. But about this time also took place the complete winning of the country to the monophysite church, and it seems unlikely that a victory of Makuria, which had long championed the Melkite faith, would lead to the triumph of the rival church of the defeated country.

The victory of Monophysitism became inevitable after the Arab conquest of Egypt, when the Melkites were considered as supporters of the Bvzantine empire, whilst the nationalist (Coptic) church was favoured by the conquerors and, during a period of nearly a hundred years, from about A.D.637 to 731, there was no Melkite patriarch in Egypt. Consequently the Nublans were unable to get Melkite Bishops, and the Monophysites took advantage of this to assert their supremacy. 

This unification was of importance for Nubia, as it enabled a stronger resistance to be made to Arab raids, and the ending of political and religious strife facilitated cultural development. Although now under one king, Nobatia, or Maris as it also seems to have been called, maintained its own identity and had a governor appointed by the king of Nubia, known to the Arabs as sahib el jebel, "Lord of the Mountain ", and to the Nubians by the Greek title of " Eparch ". A representation of one of these officials is to be seen in a painting in the church at Abd el Qadir, near Wadi Halfa.

The Eparch and Christ, first half of the 12th century

The united kingdom under King Cyriacus was powerful enough to invade Egypt in the year A.D. 745 in defense of the Patriarch of Alexandria, who had been imprisoned. The Nubian army reached Cairo where an official called the eparch, presumably the eparch of Nobatia, was sent to treat with Abd el Melek ibn Musa, the governor of Egypt, who agreed to the release of the Patriarch. A contemporary document shows that as well as the title Eparch, other Byzantine titles, such as Domestikos, were still in use, and suggests that the Byzantine traditions introduced by the first missionaries were still living.

From A.D. 822-836 there was continual warfare with Egypt until, in the latter year, George, son of King Zakaria, was sent on an embassy to Baghdad to the Caliph Muatasim. The number of accounts of this embassy shows that it was considered an important event, and marked the arrival of Nubia as a Near Eastern power.

During the ninth century, there had been considerable Arab penetration into the area to the east of the river, the main purpose of which was to obtain the gold of the Red Sea Hills. Struggles with the Beja inhabitants of the area ensued, and in A.D. 831 a treaty was made by which the Beja were to pay tribute, the blood price for Muslims killed by them was fixed, they were permitted to enter Egypt but not to be armed, and they agreed not to destroy the mosques at Sinkat and Hagr, a place so far unidentified.

The existence of these mosques shows that Arab penetration must have achieved significant proportions, and suggests that there was now a permanent Muslim population at these places. This treaty did not last for long, and in A.D. 856 a new one was made after a Beja defeat. This reaffirmed the clauses of the earlier one, and added one by which the Beja undertook not to interfere with the Muslim gold miners.

We know the name of one of the Arab gold prospectors, Abu Abd el rahman el Omari, whose story is told by Maqrizi ; he established a virtually independent state in the hills and fought the Nubians in the area round Abu Hamed, where he needed access to the Nile for his water supplies.

By the middle of the tenth century, hostilities had again broken out with Egypt. The Nubians invaded that country and, benefiting from the state of disorder there, reached, in the year A.D. 962, as far as the town of Akhmim, and for a time controlled Upper Egypt, at least to the north of Edfu. The discovery there of Nubian documents in the monastery of St. Mercurios suggests that it had become a centre of Nubian culture.

This occupation of Upper Egypt continued for some while after the Fatimid conquest in A.D. 969, but relations between Nubia and Egypt were good, and the king of Nubia was regarded as protector of the patriarch of Alexandria. This period of the late tenth and eleventh centuries marks the height of Nubian power, but from then on the history is one of increasing Arab pressure and lessening Nubian strength, and control of Upper Egypt was lost.

It is probably from this period that the few known texts in the Nubian language come. They are unfortunately very few and are of little or no value from a historical point of view. They are, however, of great importance linguistically, and show that by at least the end of the tenth century Nubian had become a written language. This language, known as Old Nubian, is closely related to the modern Mahass dialect of Nubian, which is spoken from the Second Cataract to Abu Fatina at the Third Cataract, and thus covers very much the area of Nobatia. 

It was written with the Coptic form of the Greek alphabet, using some, but not all, of the extra Coptic letters, and introducing three letters of its own, probably based on Meroitic signs, for sounds that did not exist in Coptic or Greek. Apart from odd graffiti and scratchings there are only seven known Old Nubian texts, and these are all but one of a religious nature. This may mean that by the end of the tenth century, Nubian had displaced Greek as the language of the church, but Greek still continued to be used for grave inscriptions till late in the twelfth century, and no grave stones inscribed in Nubian are known. 

Coptic was also in use in the country, but was probably only used by Coptic refugees ; its use is rare, and it is only found on grave stones and on the walls of a hermit's grotto at Wizz near to Faras. Even on grave stones Coptic is much rarer than Greek, except at the monastery of Ghazali, where Coptic grave stones preponderate. It is likely that Ghazali was exceptional and was founded by a group of Coptic monks fleeing from persecution in Egypt.

With the end of Fatimid rule in A.D. 1171 peace with Egypt came to an end, and after capturing Aswan, the Nubians advanced into Upper Egypt. Saladin (Salah ed Din), the new ruler of Egypt, sent in army under the command of his brother Shams ed Din Turan Shah against them, defeated them and drove them back to lbrim, which was captured. The main church was turned into a mosque, and a garrison was left there for two years.

There are a hundred years of silence after this event, until in 1272 the Nubians under a King David attacked the Arab town of Aidhab on the Red Sea coast. This was the last aggressive action of the now much weakened Nubian state, and its history from then on is a story of dynastic intrigue, with Egypt ever ready to take advantage of dissensions and place her nominee on the throne. To David succeeded another David, his son, but one Shekanda, a nephew of the late king, basing his claim to the throne on the traditional succession through sisters' sons, appealed for Egyptian help, and was by them placed on the throne in A.D. 1276. Some time before A.D. 1288 a king called Semamun came to the throne and for the next six years he alternated with an Egyptian nominee; when the Egyptian army retired Semamun seized the throne, when it advanced he fled.

The last Christian king of Dongola was Kudanbes, who in A.D. 1323 was defeated by Kanz ed Dawla; the Christian kingdom came to an end and the country thrown open to the Arabs became rapidly Islamized. 

St. Anna, mid 8th century

KINGDOM OF ALWAH

For the southern kingdom of Alwah, we have almost no historical information. It comes into history in the work of John of Ephesus already described, and is referred to in several medieval Arab writers from el Yaqubi in the late ninth century to Maqrizi. The most important account is that of Ibn Selim el Aswani, a tenth century writer, whose account has been transmitted by Maqrizi. He describes Soba, the capital, as having

"fine buildings, spacious houses, churches with much gold, and gardens. There is a quarter in it inhabited by Muslims . . . they have well bred horses and Arab camels. Their religion is Jacobite Christianity and their bishops come from the patriarch of Alexandria ... and their books are in Greek which they translate into their own language."

This description has formed the basis for all later ones from Abu Saleh in the thirteenth century to the Fung Chronicle in the nineteenth.

All these accounts describe Soba at the height of its prosperity, and we have no account of its decline and fall, which must coincide with the arrival of the Fung in the early sixteenth century. Local tradition and the Fung Chronicle are united in saying that Soba fell as a result of alliance between Amara Dunkas, king of the Fung, and Abdulla Gumaa, the local Arab leader.

When David Reubeni, a Jewish adventurer, passed through Soba in 1523 he found it largely in ruins, and the inhabitants living in wooden huts.

The excavations carried out from 1950-1952 showed Soba to have been a town of large mud brick buildings scarcely as fine as Aswani's description would suggest, with a simple and not very rich culture. Imported objects have enabled buildings of ninth and fifteenth century dates to be identified, but the lack of written records other than scratchings on pieces of pot prevents any detailed history being written.

ART AND ARCHITECTURE

Of the material remains of the civilisation of Christian Nubia the best known are the churches, the remaining of some sixty of which are still to be seen stretching from the Egyptian frontier to perhaps Jebel Segadi, close to Sennar, where the remains of a building which may have been a church have been discovered. These churches, nearly all of them small, are of the basilica type common in the Byzantine world. A typical plan is shown in FIG. 2, where it can be seen that the church is a rectangular building with north and south aisles divided off from the nave by a series of columns. At the east end there is a curved internal apse in front of which stood the altar. This area is known in the Coptic church as the haikal. The pulpit normally stood close to the most easterly pillar of the north aisle. At the west end of the church there is often a tower, or upper room, in the south corner and another room in the north corner. Doorways are in the north and south walls.

FIG.  2. PLAN OF CHURCH AT FARAS

Apse with the synthronon, Faras Cathedral

The great majority of these churches were built of sun dried bricks and consequently, they are still only found in a reasonable state of repair in the almost rainless areas of the north. A few larger and more important ones were built of stone, such as two at Faras, and the large monastic church at Ghazali. 

FIG. 3.  CHURCH  AT ABD QUADIR

The small church at Abd el Qadir, a plan and section of which is shown in  FIG. 3, shows a slightly more elaborate plan, since additions were built on to the main structure to north and south. The mud brick churches are all simple and unpretentious village churches with little or no architectural refinement.

Decoration was restricted to paintings. Most of the interior wall,  must originally have been covered with paintings of religious scenes, but only in a very few cases have these been preserved. The best preserved and the finest were those in the Rivergate Church at Faras (this church has decayed so badly since its excavation some 45 years ago that the paintings are hardly visible) and in the church at Abd el Qadir. 

FIG. 4. THE BISHOP OF FARAS

These paintings show very strong Byzantine characteristics, and are further evidence of the deeply rooted influence which the Byzantine church must originally have had in Nubia. The illustration shown here (FIG. 4) from the church at Faras is of a bishop, almost certainly the bishop of Faras, who may well have been the senior bishop of the Nubian church. He is shown in full vestments, which are very similar to those then in use in the Orthodox Church. An unusual feature is the series of what are apparently bells sewn round the hem of his cope.

Bishop Petros (924-999) and St. Peter the Apostle

Bishop Marianos (1005-1039) and Virgin with Child, after 1005


FIG. 5. THE EPARCH OF NUBIA

The other illustration, (FIG. 5), from the church at Abd el Qadir, is of very great interest and importance. An inscription beside it shows that it is a representation of the Eparch of Nubia (see above, Kingdom of Dongola). He is seen holding a representation of the church, of which he was presumably the founder, in his hand. On his head he wears the two-horned headdress, which seems to have been an emblem of Nubian royalty. The double-headed eagles on his costume are again evidence of the persistence of Byzantine tradition.

There are many other paintings in this church, mostly of saints, but also of biblical scenes, and one of the nativity. The general impression of the paintings is one of simplicity and crudity, but there is no doubt of the vigour and enthusiasm of the painters.

FIG. 6. ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS FROM FARAS

Architectural decoration is rare, except in the churches at Faras, which, by reason of its position as capital of Nobatia, had the resources to build in a grander style. FIG. 6 shows some details from the churches there. Again the Byzantine influence is very strong.

For domestic architecture we have as yet no evidence, except from Soba, where the excavated buildings are seen to have been of a simple type made of sun dried brick, similar to the modern houses of the area, except that the arch, now foreign to local building tradition, was in use. What the palace of the kings of Dongola was like must wait on excavation of that site.

FIG. 7. DESIGNS ON POTS

Of other arts very little is known except for the pottery. The pottery is striking and beautiful, and vast quantities of it have been found at various sites in the north. Of the fine painted wares, two may be distinguished -- the Dongola ware of the north and the Soba ware of the south. The Dongola ware consists mostly of small bowls of a fine paste covered with a white, cream or buff slip. Many of these bowls have stamped designs of animals or Christian emblems in the centre. Many also have painted designs of conventional patterns, birds' heads and crosses, examples of which are shown in FIGS. 7 and 8.

FIG. 8. DESIGNS ON POTS

It is not yet possible to establish a chronology for this pottery, or to trace its changing patterns and forms, but it seems likely that the best of it dates from the ninth and tenth centuries. This pottery is clearly derived from the fine painted ware of Meroe, and the designs on it are influenced by Coptic art. It is, however, very different from the normal run of Coptic pottery. It is finer and the patterns are more elaborate.

The fine painted ware of Soba presents something of a mystery. It is a fine ware with a black slip, painted after firing, with patterns of dots and rosettes in cream and red paint. It is not possible yet to give a date, but it seems likely that it is not later than the tenth century. Its origins are quite unknown. No pottery like it is known from the norther  kingdom, from Egypt, or from any surrounding country, but the quality of the ware and the high artistic standard of the decoration show that a rich cultural tradition ties behind it.

Soba has also produced a pottery of clearly local tradition-large bowls covered with a black or red slip and highly burnished. This class of pottery has been found widely distributed over the Gezira, and along the Blue Nile, and as far north as the site of Gedu, just north of Kabushia.

Very little remains of small objects of artistic value in other materials. A series of glass vessels, probably of fourteenth century date, have been found at Soba, but they are almost certainly imported from Egypt, and it does not appear that glass was made in the Sudan during this period.

FIG. 9.  NUBIAN WRITING

There is some evidence to show that the art of writing was valued. FIG. 9 shows the beginning of a manuscript of the life of St. Minas. It is a specimen of a type of decorated manuscript which was probably common and a good example of Nubian handwriting of the period.


IMPORTANT DATES

About A.D. 530   Inscription of Silko at Kalabsha.

542-545  Mission of Julian to Nobatia.

567    Conversion of Makuria.

569-575   Mission of Longinus to Nubia.

579-580 Mission of Longinus to Alwah.

639  Arab invasion of Egypt.

641 Baqt.

651 Muslim attack on Dongola.

Between 650-710  Unification of Nobatia and Makuna. Victory of Monophysitism.

745  King Cyriacus invades Egypt.

831  Treaty between Egypt and the Beja.

856  New Treaty with the Beja.

956  Nubians attack Aswan and occupy Upper Egypt.

1172  Egyptians capture lbrim and leave a garrison.

1272  Nubians attack Aidhab.

1323 Kanz el Dawla replaces Kudanbes on throne.

About 1504  Defeat of Soba kingdom by the Fung.


FURTHER READING

The following list does not pretend to be a full bibliography. It is merely a list of books and articles in English, except for the two by Monneret de Villard, which the reader may find useful in filling in the sketchy outline given in this pamphlet.

The two most important books on Christian Nubia are both in Italian. They are:

 Storia della Nubia Cristiana. This is a straightforward history.

La Nubia Medioevale. This book describes all the existing period. Both are by U. Monneret de Villard.

There is an excellent summary in English of "Storia della Nubia Cristiana" by O. G. S. Crawford in Antiquity, Vol. XXI, pp. 10-15. These two books are fundamental to the study of the period and in writing this pamphlet I have drawn heavily on them.

Other books and articles are:

L. P. KIRWAN: "A Contemporary Account of the Conversion of the Sudan to Christianity". Sudan Notes and Records, Vol. XX, pp. 289-95.

L. P. KIRWAN:  "Notes on the Topography of the Christian Nubian Kingdoms".  Journal of Egyptian Archeology, Vol. XXI. pp. 57-62.

J. W. CROWFOOT:  "Christian Nubia". Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. XII, pp. 141-50.

SOMERS CLARKE: Christian Antiquities in the Nile Valley.

G. S. MILEHAM:  Churches in Lower Nubia.

G. S. TRIMINGHAM:  Islam in the Sudan, though not primarily about this period, has useful information.

Rather more specialized , but of great interest for the study of the language are:

F. Ll. GRIFFITH:  The Nubian Texts of the Christian  Period.

F. Ll. GRIFFITH:  "Christian Documents from Nubia ". Proc. Brit. Acad., XIV, 16.

Of Arabic writers the two most important are Maqrizi and Abu Saleh. The work of Abu Saleh "The Armenian" is available with English translation and Arabic text as "The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and some Neighbouring Countries ". Edited and translated by B. T. A. Evetts, with notes by A. J. Butler.

That of Maqrizi, "El Mawaiz wa el Itibar fi dhikr el Khitat wa el Athar"  exists in many editions the best of which is that of Wiet  published by the Institut Francais d'Archeologie Orientale in Cairo.

For other examples of Byzantine influence in Medieval Nubia see Faras Gallery.

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