Aksum and Nubia

Aksum and Nubia : Warfare, Commerce, and Political Fictions in Ancient Northeast Africa

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Aksum and Nubia assembles and analyzes the textual and archaeological evidence of interaction between Nubia and the Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum, focusing primarily on the fourth century CE. Although ancient Nubia and Ethiopia have been the subject of a growing number of studies in recent years, little attention has been given to contact between these two regions. Hatke argues that ancient Northeast Africa cannot be treated as a unified area politically, economically, or culturally. Rather, Nubia and Ethiopia developed within very different regional spheres of interaction, as a result of which the Nubian kingdom of Kush came to focus its energies on the Nile Valley, relying on this as its main route of contact with the outside world, while Aksum was oriented towards the Red Sea and Arabia. In this way Aksum and Kush coexisted in peace for most of their history, and such contact as they maintained with each other was limited to small-scale commerce. Only in the fourth century CE did Aksum take up arms against Kush, and even then the conflict seems to have been related mainly to security issues on Aksum's western frontier. Although Aksum never managed to hold onto Kush for long, much less dealt the final death-blow to the Nubian kingdom, as is often believed, claims to Kush continued to play a role in Aksumite royal ideology as late as the sixth century. Aksum and Nubia critically examines the extent to which relations between two ancient African states were influenced by warfare, commerce, and political fictions. Online edition available as part of the NYU Library's Ancient World Digital Library and in partnership with the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW).show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 230 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 453.59g
  • New York University Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 2 maps, 2 line drawings
  • 081476066X
  • 9780814760666
  • 2,049,151

Review quote

"Rich and important offerings, well worthy of study by specialists, who will find many stimulating ideas to consider, and by more general readers-perhaps familiar with adjacent areas and/or periods-whose horizons will be greatly extended."-David W. Phillipson,University of Cambridgeshow more

Table of contents

Preface1. Introduction1.1. Before Aksum and Kush1.2. The First Millennium BCE2. The Question of Aksumite Trade with Nubia3. The Third Century CE3.1. Cosmas Indicopleustes at Adulis3.2. Dating Monumentum Adulitanum 3.3. Aksumite Expansion in Northeast Africa 3.3.1. Aksum and Rome's Southern Frontier3.3.2. Aksum and "Ethiopia"3.3.3. Sasu3.3.4. Aksum's Northern and Western Frontiers in the Third Century4. The Fourth Century CE4.1. Ousanas and Kush4.2. Aksum Invades Kush4.2.2. The Political Implications of the First Aksumite Invasion of Kush4.3. Trouble on the Western Front? A Possible Clue in RIE4.4. The Noba4.5. 'Ezana's Nubian War 4.5.1. The Greek Account4.5.2. The Vocalized Ge'ez Account4.5.2.1. The Haughty Noba4.5.2.2. Pillaging the Towns of the Noba4.5.2.3. The Attack on Kush4.5.2.4. Tallying Up the Spoils of War4.5.3. A Third Account of the Nubian War4.6. Assessing the Impact of Aksum on Nubia in the Fourth Century4.6.1. The Archaeological Evidence4.6.2. The Graeco-Roman Textual Evidence4.6.3. The Fall of Kush5. After Kush 5.1. Kaleb and Nubia5.2. The Nobades and Blemmyes5.3. Longinus' Mission and the Aksumite Presence in Alodia5.4. Into the Middle Ages6. Conclusion BibliographyMaps Map 1Map 2Map 3Indexshow more

About George Hatke

George Hatke holds a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. He is a Visiting Research Scholar at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. His research includes the ancient history of the Horn of Africa and South Arabia, Red Sea and Indian Ocean trade, and the late antique Near East.show more