Nubian Influence Seen in Egyptian Art
Did the once powerful nation of Nubia leave its mark on Egypt? We do not have to look far for evidence but we do need to look closely. The Egyptians were not shy when it came to hieroglyphics and art work disclosing their history so perhaps that is where we should start our investigation.
The Egyptian method for expressing themselves did not change over the centuries so nearly all Egyptian art has the same general appearance and style. For example, human figures are consistently represented as brown to darker complexioned people. However, when examining this aspect of Egyptian art closely, we see that the pattern changed significantly in the 25th dynasty (800 B.C.-700 B.C.). People are depicted with dark to jet black skin, often wearing gold-hooped earrings, and with braided or extended hair featuring a long feather protruding from the top of the head. The usual depiction of art work in the 25th dynasty shows Negroid features with big lips, wide nose and prognathic in profile, a style very different from the customary Egyptian figures but one which more accurately reflects the Nubians’ African connections.
Scientists can determine the period or dynasty in which various Egyptian art forms and hieroglyphics originated. Archaeologist Timothy Kendall discovered the name “Alara” on a fragmented hieroglyphic stela from the temple of Amun while studying ruins at Kawa near Upper Egypt, the location of many Egyptian temples. Kendall believes this is the same Alara who unified all of Upper Nubia from Meroe to the third cataract (one of six shallow-water locations in the Nile) and established Napata as the religious capital of Nubia. Though Alara himself was not a 25th dynasty Nubian pharaoh since he never controlled any region of Egypt, his two immediate successors, Kashta and Piye, were Pharaohs of Egypt.
The historical records clearly identify the 25th dynasty in Egypt as being ruled by the Nubians, and recognizing the change in Egyptian art at the time of Nubian domination has shed new light on Nubian history.