| I. History
of the Abay (Nile)
Source (Encyclopedia Brittanica: Nile River)
two theories as to how the Abay came to be. It is widely
believed the river consisted of two parts originally
though the location of these two parts is as well
different according to these two theories. The first
theory is that the lower Nile had its source at about
latitude 20 N, flowing directly into the sea, while the
upper Nile, issuing from Lake Victoria, flowed into an
inland lake that covered the As-Sudd region in what is
now The Sudan. The lake became filled with water, which
then spilled over at its northern end and flowed into
what is now the lower Nile. According, to the second
theory, the upper section originally flowed into a vast
lake between Mount as-Silsilah and what is now Aswan;
this was tapped by the lower section of the Nile after
the so-called Sebile erosion.
From records of antiquity it is generally accepted that at the end of the 4th millennium BC, kings of Egypt's 1st dynasty conquered upper Nubia south of Aswan, introducing Egyptian cultural influence to the region. However Nubia was subjected to successive military expeditions from Egypt and sacked for its people enslaved its reources plundered for building materials for royal tombs, destroying much of the Egyptian-Nubian culture that had sprung from the initial conquests of the 1st dynasty. Throughout these few centuries (c. 2925-c. 2575 BC), the descendants of the Nubians continued to eke out an existence along the Nile River, an easy prey to Egyptian military expeditions. Although the Nubians were no match for the armies of Egypt's Old Kingdom, the interactions arising from their enslavement and colonization led to ever-increasing African influence upon the art, culture, and religion of dynastic Egypt.
Sometime after about 2181, in the period known to Egyptologists as the First Intermediate Period (c. 2130-1938), a new wave of immigrants entered Nubia from Libya, in the west, where the increasing desiccation of the Sahara drove them to settle along the Nile as cattle farmers. Other branches of these people seem to have gone beyond the Nile to the Red Sea Hills, while still others pushed south and west to Wadai and Darfur. These newcomers were able to settle on the Nile and assimilate the existing Nubians without opposition from Egypt. After the fall of the 6th dynasty (c. 2150), Egypt experienced more than a century of weakness and internal strife, giving the immigrants in Nubia time to develop their own distinct civilization with unique crafts, architecture, and social structure, virtually unhindered by the potentially more dynamic civilization to the north. With the advent of the 11th dynasty (2081), however, Egypt recovered its strength and pressed southward into Nubia, at first sending only sporadic expeditions to exact tribute, but by the 12th dynasty (1938-1756) effectively occupying Nubia as far south as Semna. The Nubians resisted the Egyptian occupation, which was maintained only by a chain of forts erected along the Nile. Egyptian military and trading expeditions, of course, penetrated beyond Semna, and Egyptian fortified trading posts were actually established to the south at Karmah in order to protect against frequent attacks upon Egyptian trading vessels by Nubian tribesmen beyond the southern frontier.