Friday, February 15, 2013

Kush History and the World

Kush and the World
Attacked but not defeated, Kushite leaders moved their capital south to Meroe (MAIR«oh«wee), near the sixth cataract of the Nile River. There, farther from Egypt, the Kushite culture continued. This time of great achievement lasted from 270 B.C. to A.D. 350 and is known as the Meroitic period.

During the Meroitic period, Kush included most of Nubia as well as regions far south of Khartoum. Across the empire the Kushites built temples to their own gods as well as palaces and pyramids for their own kings and queens. They also created many new customs of their own. Once again the Kushites became known for trade.

Trade Links
One of Meroe's greatest advantages was its location. The city was not only on the Nile River but also at the meeting point of several overland trade routes. In Meroe, Kushite merchants once again set up their old trade network, or group of buyers and sellers. Traders from southwestern Asia and from all parts of Africa came to Meroe. Along with gold and spices, the Kushites began to offer iron products.

The knowledge of ironmaking proved very important to the people of Kush. Under their new land lay much iron ore. In mining pits near Meroe, Kushite workers dug the iron ore from beneath the rock and sand. Ironworkers melted the ore in furnaces and removed the minerals that could not be used.

The pure iron was then hauled to the city, where craftworkers used it to make iron tools and weapons.

Meroe was one of the earliest centers for ironmaking in Africa. Today huge heaps of slag, the waste from the melted iron ore, are evidence of this important economic activity of long ago.

Meroe won fame in much of the ancient world as a center of trade. The city became an artistic and cultural meeting ground for travelers from all parts of Africa. The Meroitic trade network even reached to the Mediterranean. We know this because artifacts from all parts of the Mediterranean region have been found in graves and tombs excavated in and around ancient Meroe.

The need to keep records of their trade led the people of Meroe to create the first Nubian written language. Before this time the Nubian language was only spoken. Any written communication had used Egyptian hieroglyphics. The new alphabet had 23 symbols, which stood for sounds in the Nubian language. Today the sounds of the symbols are known, but no one has been able to figure out the meaning of the words. The Meroitic language is still a mystery. Until this mystery is solved, much of the ancient history of the people of Meroe will remain unknown.

Why was Meroe's location important?

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