Σάββατο, 23 Ιανουαρίου 2016

The legendary byzantine kingdoms of Christian Nubia in Nile valley, Africa

Nobatia or Nobadia (Greek: Νοβαδἰα, Nobadia; Old Nubian: Ⲛⲟⲩⲃⲁⲇⲓⲁ, Noubadia) was an ancient African Christian kingdom in Lower Nubia and subsequently a region of the larger Nubian Kingdom of Makuria. Its name is often given as al-Maris in Arabic histories. Nobatia was likely founded by the Nobatae, who had been invited into the region from the Egyptian desert by the Roman Emperor Diocletian to help defeat the Blemmyes in AD 297. Early Nobatia is quite likely the same civilization that is known to archeologists as the Ballana culture. Eventually the Nobatae were successful, and an inscription by Silko, "Basiliskos" of the Nobatae, claims to have driven the Blemmyes into the eastern deserts. Around this time the Nobatian capital was established at Pakhoras (modernFaras); soon after, Nobatia converted to non-Chalcedonian Christianity. By 701, Nobatia had been annexed to its southern neighbor, Makuria. The circumstances of this merger are unknown. It most likely occurred before the Muslim invasion in 652, since the Arab histories speak of only one Christian state in Nubia and reached at least as far as Old Dongola. Nobatia seems to have maintained some autonomy in the new state. It was ruled by an eparch of Nobatia who was also titled the Domestikos of Pakhoras. These were originally appointed but seem to be dynastic in the later period. Some of their records have been found at Fort Ibrim, presenting a figure with a great deal of power. However, some Arab writers refer to the merged state as the "Kingdom of Makuria and Nobatia," which might imply a dual monarchy for at least some periods. Nobatia was the closest part of Nubia to Egypt and was the most subject to the pressures of Arabization and Islamization. Over time the people of Nobatia gradually converted and married into Arab clans such as the Banu Kanz, although some remained independent in the Christian kingdom of Dotawo until its conquest by Sennar in 1504.Alodia or Alwa was the southernmost of the three kingdoms of Christian Nubia; the other two were Nobatia and Makuria to the north. Much about this kingdom is still unknown, despite its thousand-year existence and considerable power and geographic size. Due to fewer excavations far less is known about Alodia than its northern counterparts. Most of what is known about Christian Nubia comes from either contemporary Egyptian sources and the intensive archaeological work done in Lower Nubia prior to the flooding of many sites by the Aswan High Dam. Neither of these sources shed much light on what went on in the Upper Nubia during this period. Alodia's location in modern Sudan rather than Egypt has also hampered excavations as the greater instability of that country has long hampered work. Several literary works in Ethiopian Orthodox liturgy however point to Ethiopian control and tribute both during ancient Axumite times and during the latter Solomonic restoration. The campaigns of the twin Emperors Ezana and Sezana and their younger sibling Hadefan appear from their chronicles a retaliation for withheld tribute and continued rebellion. The inhabitants of the regions had been helping the Bejan raiders that Axum perennially fought against. Axumite records list in meticulous detail the army units dispatched, the measures taken and the numbers killed and prisoners seized in the area. The origins of the kingdom are little known. The first reference to the Alodia might be a Meroitic stela from the reign of Nastasen, that mention a region known as Alut that might be a reference to Alodia. The first concrete reference is made Pliny the Elder who includes Alwa on his list of towns in Nubia. How Alodia is related to the ancient kingdom of Meroe is one of the most important questions. Alodia was centered on what was the heart of the Meroitic empire. By the time of Ezana of Axum it seems that Alwa was controlled by the Noba rather than the Kushites. Alodia was converted to Christianity in the 6th century by missionaries sent by Byzantine Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Monophysite Christianity flourished in Alodia, more so than other Christian sects. Alodia was centered south of the great bend in theNile river and south into the Gezira with its capital at Soba. P.L. Shennie mentions that the name of a king David, who died in 1015, was learned from a recently recovered tombstone. At some points in time it seems as though Alodia and Makuria merged into one state, perhaps as a result of the close dynastic links between the two. If the two states did merge at certain times, Alodia regained its independence. Ibn Hawqal is the most important external source on the country, being one of the only detailed first hand accounts of a traveller to the country. He describes Alodia as being larger, wealthier, and more powerful than Makuria, with the country covering a large region stretching from Ethiopia to the Kordofan. Alodia was the farthest of the Nubian states from the influences of Egypt and thus the last of the Nubian states to be converted to Islam. The conventional date for the final destruction of Alodia is the Funj conquest of the region in the early sixteenth century. Archaeological evidence seems to show that the kingdom was in decline as early as the thirteenth century. Near the end of this century al-Harrani reports that the capital had been moved to Wayula. Later Mamluk emissaries reported that the region was divided among nine rulers. Alodia seems to have preserved its identity after the Funj conquest and its incorporation into the Kingdom of Sennar. The Alodians, who became known as the Abdallab, revolted under Ajib the Great and formed the semi-autonomous Kingdom of Dongola that persisted for several centuries. It may for a time have been a tributary kingdom to Axum. According to Axumite and later Ethiopian Imperial chronicles the two powers frequently clashed in the region of their borders. It would be odd that neither would record an independent polity or would not go to war with it before proceeding northward, in the case of Axum. It is a much stronger possibility that Alodia refers to a northernmost Kingdom within the Axumite Empire (or a southernmost Kingdom within the Egyptian). The former is more likely since there is ample evidence of its occurrence such as the Kingdoms of Gondar, Begemeder, Wello, Kaffa within the larger Ethiopian Empire while Egypt is more known as one whole nation, not a federated state.The Kingdom of Makuria (Old Nubian: Ⲙⲁⲕⲟⲩⲣⲓⲁ, Makouria) was a kingdom located in what is today Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt. Makuria originally covered the area along the Nile River from the Third Cataract to somewhere between the Fifth and Sixth Cataracts. It also had control over the trade routes, mines, and oases to the east and west. Its capital was Dongola (Arabic: Dunqulah), and the kingdom is sometimes known by the name of its capital. By the end of the 6th century it had converted to Christianity, but in the 7th century Egypt was conquered by the Islamic armies, and Nubia was cut off from the rest of Christendom. In 651 an Arab army invaded, but it was repulsed and a treaty known as the baqt was signed creating a relative peace between the two sides that lasted until the 13th century. Makuria expanded, annexing its northern neighbour Nobatia either at the time of the Arab invasion or during the reign of King Merkurios. The period from roughly 750 to 1150 saw the kingdom stable and prosperous, in what has been called the "Golden Age". Increased aggression from Egypt, and internal discord led to the state's collapse in the 14th century.Makuria seems to have been stable and prosperous during the 8th and 9th centuries. During this period Egypt was weakened by frequent civil wars, and there was thus little threat of invasion from the north. Instead it was the Nubians who intervened in the affairs of their neighbour. Much of Upper Egypt was still Christian, and it looked to the Nubian kingdoms for protection. One report has a Nubian army sacking Cairo in the 8th century to defend the Christians, but this is probably apocryphal. Not a great deal is known about Makuria during this period. One important story is that of Zacharias III sending his son Georgios to Baghdad to negotiate a reduction of the bakt. Georgios as king also plays a prominent role in the story of Arab adventurer al-Umari. The best evidence from this time is archaeological. Excavations show that this era was one of stability and seeming prosperity. Nubian pottery, painting, and architecture all reached their heights during this era. It also seems to have been a long period of stability in the Nile floods, without the famine caused by small floods or the destruction caused by large ones. Egypt and Makuria developed close and peaceful relations when Egypt was ruled by the Fatimids. The Shi'ite Fatimids had few allies in the Muslim world, and they turned to the southern Christians as allies Fatimid power also depended upon the slaves provided by Makuria, who were used to man the Fatimid army. Trade between the two states flourished: Egypt sent wheat, wine, and linen south while Makuria exported ivory, cattle, ostrich feathers, and slaves. Relations with Egypt soured when the Ayyubids came to power in 1171. Early in the Ayyubid period the Nubians invaded Egypt, perhaps in support of their Fatimid allies.The Ayyubids repulsed their invasion and in response Salah ad-Din dispatched his brother Turan Shah to invade Nubia. He defeated the Nubians, and for several years occupied Qasr Ibrim before retreating north. The Ayyubids dispatched an emissary to Makuria to see if it was worth conquering, but he reported that the land was too poor. The Ayyubids seem to have thus largely ignored their southern neighbour for the next century. There were a number of different languages in use in Makuria. In early centuries, when Byzantine influence was still strong, Greek was the primary written language and perhaps also the language used by the royal court. Greek continued to be used in later centuries for ceremonial purposes, such as on many gravestones, but these later inscriptions are marked by frequent spelling and grammar errors implying reduced knowledge of the language. Eventually Old Nubian, which was the language used by most of the population, became the main written language; Old Nubian translations of the bible and many other religious documents were used widely. One Arab traveler to the region stated that Nobatia and Makuria spoke different languages; almost all our documents are from what was Nobatia and this language seems ancestral to the modern Nobiin language still spoken in the region. Adams notes that the ancient border between Makuria and Nobatia today is close to the border between the Nobiin and Dongolawi languages. Another important language in Makuria was Coptic. Links with Egyptian Christians were strong and Makuria seems to have made wide use of Coptic religious literature. Makuria also saw regular influxes of Coptic-speaking Christian refugees from Egypt. In the later years of the kingdom's existence, Arabic became an increasingly important tongue. Arab traders were important throughout the area and Arabic seems to have become the language of commerce. As these traders settled, each major community gained an Arab quarter.

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