The Kingdom of Kush

Western Deffufa in ancient city of Kerma, Nubia, Sudan
Western Deffufa in ancient city of Kerma, Nubia, Sudan. Lassi

The Kingdom of Kush is one of several names used for the region of Africa directly south of ancient Dynastic Egypt, approximately between the modern cities of Aswan, Egypt, and Khartoum, Sudan.

The Kingdom of Kush reached its first peak between 1700 and 1500 BC. In 1600 BC they allied with the Hyksos and conquered Egypt beginning the 2nd Intermediate Period. The Egyptians took back Egypt and much of Nubia 50 years later, establishing great temples at Gebel Barkal and Abu Simbel.

In 750 BC, the Kushite ruler Piye invaded Egypt and established the 25th Egyptian dynasty during the 3rd Intermediate Period, or Napatan period; the Napatans were defeated by the Assyrians, who destroyed the Kushite and Egyptian armies. The Kushites fled to Meroe, which flourished for the following thousand years.

Kush Civilization Chronology

  • Upper Paleolithic Period 27,000-10,000 BP
  • Khartoum Mesolithic 8000-4000 BC
  • Early Farming Neolithic aka A Group Culture (Sayala and Qustul) 4000-2000 BC
  • Ancient Kerma, 2500-2050 BC (Kerma)
  • Middle Kerma, 2050-1750 BC
  • Classic Kerma, 1750-1500 BC (allied with Hyksos)
  • Egyptian Nubia, 1550-750 BC (Kerma destroyed, Tombos)
  • Napatan Period, 750-660 BC (Gebel Barkal, El Kurra)
  • Assyrian Rule, 660 BC-270 BC
  • Meroitic Period, 270 BC-AD 370 (Meroe, Qasr Ibrim, Karanoq, Arminna West)
  • Christian [AD 370-AD 1100]
  • Medieval [AD 1100-1400]
  • Islamic Nubia [AD 1400


Bonnet, Charles. 1995. Archaeological Excavations at Kerma (Soudan): Preliminary report for 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 campaigns. Les fouilles archeologiques de Kerma, Extrait de Genava (new series) XLIII: I-X.

Haynes, Joyce L. 1996. Nubia. Pp. 532-535 in Brian Fagan (ed). 1996. The Oxford Companion to Archaeology[/link. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Thompson, A.H., L. Chaix, and M.P. Richards. 2008. Stable isotopes and diet at Ancient Kerma, Upper Nubia (Sudan). Journal of Archaeological Science 35(2):376-387.

Also Known As: Known as Kush in the Old Testament; Aethiopia in ancient Greek literature; and Nubia to the Romans. Nubia may have been derived from an Egyptian word for gold, nebew; the Egyptians called Nubia Ta-Sety.

Alternate Spellings: Cush