The Lost Kingdom
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At its height, Kush spanned more than a thousand kilometers from northern Sudan to the Blue Nile Region, and lasted for more than a thousand years.
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The origins of Kush are murky. It was well established as a society before significant contact with the Egyptians, but seems to have developed differently from its northern neighbor.
For ecological reasons it is unlikely that Kush built its society through agricultural surplus as Egypt seems to have. Instead, Edwards believes the state and its power structure arose through trade and projection of military power. Kushite use of horses and ample open territory facilitated the movement of goods and soldiers around the region. Trade with Egypt was particularly important, but goods and fancy commodities were exchanged as far away as modern day Morocco and maybe Europe as well as points south.
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The lack of more basic imported goods suggests that Kushite trade was centered on luxuries. What was unattainable through trade might have been obtained through force. Kush had a robust infrastructure. Enormous water storage tanks Hafirs with associated temples and deep wells can be found throughout their territory. The scale of these projects suggests state involvement with agriculture—one water tank required excavating up to , cubic meters of earth. Mere maintenance of these massive structures would have required considerable resources.
The Kushites also had robust production facilities for iron and pottery.
Edwards believes that the Kushite state built these facilities as a means of control over the population, backed up by the threat of force. Kushite burials were often pretty grand.
Some items found in high-end burials include imported luxuries such as silver and bronze items, jewelry, fancy ceramics, glass, lamps, furniture, and wine. Much of the archaeology in the region has focused on the large burial centers, especially the pyramids, so Kush remains mysterious in many ways.
But not, it seems, completely.
JSTOR is a digital library for scholars, researchers, and students. A view of the Pyramids of Meroe in modern day Sudan.
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