Upper Nubia

Upper Nubia is the southernmost part of Nubia, upstream on the Nile from Lower Nubia. It is so called because the Nile flows north, so it is further upstream and of higher elevation in relation to Lower Nubia.

The extension of Upper Nubia is rather ill-defined and depends on the researchers’ approach.

Geographical approachEdit

Physiographic zones of Upper Nubia corresponding to distinct reaches of the Nile

Geographically speaking Upper Nubia designs the area between the Second and the Sixth cataracts of the Nile. Occasionally the term Middle Nubia is used to design the area between the Second and the Third cataract; in this case Upper Nubia begins at the Third cataract going upstream.[1]

Physiographic subdivisions of Upper Nubia alongside the Nile cataracts:[2]

Area From To
Batn-El-Hajar Second cataract Dal cataract
Abri-Delgo Reach Dal cataract Third cataract
Dongola Reach Third cataract Fourth cataract
Abu Hamed Reach Fourth cataract Fifth cataract
To be defined
Fifth cataract Confluence of Atbara and Nile rivers
Shendi Reach Confluence of Atbara and Nile rivers Sixth cataract

Political approachEdit

Politically speaking Upper Nubia falls in present northern and central Sudan stretching from the Egyptian border south to present-day Khartoum at the confluence of White Nile and Blue Nile.[3]

Historical approachEdit

Upper Nubia and Abyssinia in 1891

Historically speaking Upper Nubia comprises the areas of influence of the Nubian part of New Kingdom Egypt or the kingdom of Kush or Meroe.[1] Connecting the Mediterranean world with inner Africa, Upper Nubia was crisscrossed by important trade routes and has been the cradle of diverse cultures.

Civilization Endurance from Endurance to
Kerma culture 2500 BCE 1500 BCE
New Kingdom of Egypt 1550 BCE 1080 BCE
Kingdom of Kush c. 800 BCE 4th century CE
Christian Nubia (Makuria and Alodia) 6th century AD c. 1500
Funj Sultanate 1504 1821


  1. ^ a b Török, László (2008). Between Two Worlds: The Frontier Region Between Ancient Nubia and Egypt 3700 BC - 500 AD. Brill. p. XXI. ISBN 978-90-04-17197-8.
  2. ^ William Yewdale Adams; Nubia: Corridor to Africa; 1977; ISBN 978-0-7139-0579-3.
  3. ^ Barbara Ann Kipfer; Upper Nubia in: Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology; 2000; ISBN 978-0-306-46158-3.