The Kush were ancient Egypt’s neighbors, and they would eventually place Pharaohs of their own on the Egyptian throne. This powerful ancient kingdom is perhaps better known as “Nubia” for the region of upper Egypt it once occupied. Many people still use the word Nubia, or Nubian, to describe all ancient African civilizations south of the Sahara, without differentiating between the various empires that rose and fell there.
Prior to the Egyptian conquests, the Sudan was home to a thriving agrarian civilization based around the city of Kerma, (2500-1500 BCE). Egypt had always had trouble with their southern neighbors, and they eventually took the opportunity to push south, conquering the region which stretches from Aswan in Southern Egypt, to Khartoum. When the Egyptian New Kingdom finally began to disintegrate in the 11th century BCE, the powerful Kush civilization formed in the chaos, breaking away from their Egyptian rulers.
By the time the Kush kingdom broke away from Egypt, the region of Nubia had been thoroughly Egyptianized, and the Kush had inherited an interesting mash-up of local beliefs and Egyptian customs. Because of the cultural similarities between the Kush and the Egyptians, many early colonial archaeologists failed to identify the Sudanese kingdom as an empire separate from Egypt, despite the fact it existed as an independent entity, from the 11th century BCE until its collapse in the 4th century CE. Some even wrote that an unknown white civilization must have been responsible for the monumental architecture that they found.
The new Kush kingdom, based around the capital city of Napata, became a thriving and wealthy empire in its own right, bolstered by Nile Valley trade. In recent years digs at Napata have revealed a wealth of impressive palaces, tombs, and gigantic Egyptian-style statuary, part of a once vibrant metropolis.