Kush (also known as Nubia)
was the empire to the south of Egypt. Kush was
built in at the base of the mountains, at the
start of the Nile River. They didn't have to worry, as the Egyptians
did, about the annual flooding of the Nile to bring good soil. They
had good soil. They enjoyed plenty of rainfall all year long to keep
things fresh and growing.
had tremendous natural wealth. They had gold mines and ivory and
iron ore. Other kingdoms wanted to conquer Kush
and keep the wealth for themselves. Kush did
not allow this to happen. They were known as the Land of the Bow
because of their many expert archers.
nobles lived along the Nile River. They thought of themselves as
Egyptians, although the Egyptians would not have agreed. They lived
in similar houses and worshiped the same gods as the ancient
Egyptians, with a couple of additional gods tossed in, like the
three-headed lion god. Unlike the Egyptians, their rulers were
queens, rather than kings or pharaohs. They mummified their dead.
They built tombs with flat roofs.
the Kush nobles, the common people mummified their dead, and
worshiped the same gods. But they did not think of themselves as
Egyptians. The common people lived in villages. They were farmers.
They were proud of their village. Each village had a leader, but the
leader was not a king or queen or chief. The leader did not rule.
Rather, the leader suggested and led discussions. The villagers
There was a place in Kush
where two or more villages might meet. You had to be invited, but if
invited, you knew where to go, as the meeting place was always the
same. Festivals were held in the meeting place.
of Kush's natural resources was iron ore. This was the Iron Age.
Everyone wanted iron weapons and iron tools. Kush was the center of
the iron trade in the ancient African world. To produce
iron from ore, Kush needed to burn wood. Wood was running out. Kush
had to turn their attention to other trade goods to survive.
had heard stories of the wonderful gold mines on the other side of
Africa. It was a very long trip. The Sahara Desert was in the way.
Around 750 CE, Kush tried using camels and camel trains to cross the
sea of sand. It was dangerous. It was miserable. But as Kush traders
discovered, it could be done. Kush turned their attention to the
trade with West Africa. This was the beginning of the Trans-Sahara