Between Egypt and Meroitic Nubia

László Török

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Egypt

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199571451
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Between Egypt and Meroitic Nubia

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  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology of the Near East
  • Egyptian Archaeology



The First Nile Cataract, an outcrop of the granite bedrock, interrupts the course of the Nile and creates many small islands between Philae and Syene, ancient Swnw ('Trade'), modern Aswan. The First Cataract was a natural, ethnic, and symbolic frontier between Egypt and Nubia. From the early third millennium onwards, Egypt repeatedly invaded Nubia with the intention of fixing her southern frontier at the Second Cataract, i.e., the southern end of the Lower Nubian Nile Valley. The possession of Lower Nubia secured unlimited control over the river trade between Egypt and Upper Nubia. It also meant the ownership of the resources of the adjacent desert areas — above all the goldmines of the Eastern Desert — as well as control over the desert roads connecting Egypt with the interior of Africa. Egypt conquered Lower Nubia first around 2800 bce. This article discusses settlements in the First Cataract region, the Roman conquest of Lower Nubia, the frontier garrison, administration, creating a sacred landscape, and the arbiters of the Meroitic reoccupation of the Dodekaschoinos.

Keywords: First Nile Cataract; Egypt; Lower Nubia; Roman Egypt; Meroitic; Dodekaschoinos

Article.  6459 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of the Near East ; Egyptian Archaeology

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