Welcome to Ta Nehesy


Our Neighbor to the South

Now Leaving Ta Sety and Entering Ta Nehesy

Ta Nehesy (Nubia) is located south of the 1st cataract. It goes by many names. It has also been called Yam and even Ta Sety. Wawat (Lower or Northern Nubia) extends from Abu (Elephantine) to the Second Cataract. Kush (Upper Nubia) is located between the second and fourth cataracts. It is a source of gold (Egyptian nub), minerals, wood (especially hard woods), and exotic goods. Many members of the Egyptian army and police come from Nubia.

The early peoples of Ta Nehesy (Nubia) have traded with Kemet (Egypt) as long as people can remember. The earliest peoples (A-Group) traded for copper tools, linen cloth, grain, wine, beer, and oil. They wore leather or animal skins and made jewelry from ostrich eggshells, seashells, or precious stones. They lived in one-room houses made of stone or reeds and buried their dead in shallow graves without coffins. When the people of Kemet discovered gold in Ta Nehesy, they began to invade the land. Kemet (Egypt) seems to have defeated Wawat (Lower Nubia) during Naqada III times. The people of Lower Ta Nehesy (Lower Nubia) seemed to disappear for a time (2900 BC to 2300 BC).

A new group (C-Group) resettled the area around the 6th Dynasty. They may have been fleeing desert conditions in the south. This new group of people lived like the previous group except that they were cattle herders instead of farmers. They made carved and painted pottery and sometimes buried ox skulls decorated with red and black dots in their graves. Many people became soldiers in the army of Kemet (Egypt). During the First Intermediate Period, the kings of Kemet withdrew from Ta Nehesy. They invaded Ta Nehesy again during the Middle Kingdom (2000 BC and 1750 BC) and built many forts. Control was extended to the Second Cataract. This period lasted until the Second Intermediate Period, when Kemet once again withdrew from Ta Nehesy. In time, the people of Ta Nehesy began to adopt some customs from Kemet. The rich began to wear the linen kilts of Kemet and bury their dead in the fashion of Kemet. Some lived in rectangular homes inspired by those of Kemet while others continued to live in traditional round houses.

(Note: For those concerned about the B-Group, they turned out to be people of A-Group with fewer burial goods).

The first great kingdom to arise in the south was Kerma in Upper Ta Nehesy (Upper Nubia), around 2000 BC. Lower Ta Nehesi (Nubia) was conquered by Kush during the 15th to 17th dynasties. Buhen was the New Kingdom border between Upper and Lower Ta Nehesy (Nubia). During the Second Intermediate Period, the people of Kerma sent fragrant woods, ivory, leopard skins, and gold to Kemet in trade. The kings built elaborate burial mounds. During the New Kingdom (around 1560 BC), the kings of Kemet burned Kerma to the ground. Upper and Lower Ta Nehesy became part of Kemet and a governor from Kemet was sent to rule over the land. Nubian princes were taken to Kemet to learn the ways of Kemet. Many people from Kemet moved south and intermarried with the people of Ta Nehesy. The rich learned to read and write in the language of Kemet. Under Tuthmosis III, Kemet controlled the land down to Napata at the Fourth Cataract. The people of Kemet dominated the south for 1000 years. Kings built temples and other buildings in Ta Nehesy. Ramses II built a temple to Amun in Ta Nehesy (at Gebel Barkal). The worship of Amun and other gods is spreading to the people of Ta Nehesy.

Life in Ta Nehesy

The people of Ta Nehesy eat dates, figs, and nuts. They harvest wheat and barley in the winter and a wild grain called sorghum in the summer. Sorghum can be made into porridge or baked in flat loaves (like pancakes). They also grow tiny yellow balls of grain called millet. Millet flour is used in breads. Some report that they also grow lentils, beans, onions, lettuce, and other green vegetables. They also eat the meat of cattle, sheep, goats, hippopotamus, ostrich, turtle, and gazelle. Ducks and geese were also eaten. Nile perch, mudfish, and other types of fish are eaten by some groups while others avoid all fish. The people make beer from barley. Grapes do not grow well in Ta Nehesy so most wine is imported from Kemet. They also import cooking oil, honey, and cheese from Kemet.

Try this millet breakfast porridge!

Boil one cup of water with a pinch of salt. Add 1/4 cup of millet (natural food stores may have it) and stir. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and set the timer for 25 minutes. Chop up 2 dates and 2 tablespoons of broken nut pieces (not peanuts, why, because the recipe says so!). Add the dates and the nuts to the pot and cover again. Stir the millet occasionally so that it does not burn. At the end of 25 minutes, turn the heat off. Spoon the millet into bowls (it makes 2 servings). Take 1/2 cup milk and pour it into the bowls. Eat and enjoy!

What the Future May Hold

(The rest of the story. Egyptian rule continues until about 1070 BC, when Egypt again withdraws. The kingdom of Napata arises in Upper Nubia near Gebel Barkal by 900 BC. Piye became the first Nubian to rule Egypt and Nubia in 747 BC. Later, the Nubians moved their capital south to Meroe, where more rain fell. It was also conveniently farther from Egypt. The people of Meroe developed their own written language around 100 BC. Meroitic has 23 signs and has a hieroglyphic (for stone tombs and walls) and cursive form. The script is based on Egyptian hieroglyphs. The people of Meroe traded with the Greeks and Romans. When Rome conquered Egypt in 30 BC, Meroe was still going strong).

Cities of Nubia:

Talmis (Kalabsha) may one day have a Temple to Mandulis, Osiris, and Isis (built by Augustus), as well as various gates (from the time of the Ptolemies, etc).

Gerf Hussein has a rock-cut temple of Ramesses II, the Riamsese-meryamun (Rameses II) in the Domain of Ptah, on the west bank of the Nile. It was built by Setau, the viceroy of Kush, between year 35 and 50 of Rameses II. The temple is dedicated to Ptah, the deified Rameses II, Ptah-tanen, and Hathor. It is similar in plan to the temple at Abu Simbel.

Baki (Quban), is the site of a 12th Dynasty fort built by Senwosret I. Some say there was an earlier Old Kingdom fort on the same site. There is also a temple to Horus of Baki, built by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. During the New Kingdom this has been the most important city north of Aniba because it controlls access to the gold mines of Wadi Allaqi.

Pselqet (el-Dakka) across from Baki, has a Temple for Horus of Baki, built by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. One day, the bricks from this temple may be reused in other temples (such as the Greco-Roman temple built by Ptolemy IV Philopator, Ptolemy VIII, Meroitic King Arqamani, and Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberias).

Mi-am (Aniba) is known for its Middle Kingdom fort and for the Temple of Horus of Miam. This temple was started by Senwosret I (12th Dynasty) and rebuilt by Thutmose III and later kings. During the New Kingdom, this city has been the administrative center for Wawat (or Lower Nubia, between 1st and 2nd cataracts).

Primis (Qasr Ibrim) has a New Kingdom fort and rock-cut shrines of Viceroys of Kush during the 18th and 19th Dynasties. (It also has a temple of Taharqa).

Abu Simbel is famous for its mighty temples that will long inspire the world.

Buhen (Sudan) - This Old Kingdom town has a fort from the Middle Kingdom, temples of Isis and Min that were built by Amenhotep II, and a temple to Horus of Buhen that was built by Hatshpesut, and Thutmose III (and Taharqa).

Back to the Ta Sety Nome


Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors: An Activity Guide (Hittites, Nubians, Mesopotamians, Egyptians), Marian Broida, Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1999.

Cultural Atlas of Ancient Egypt, John Baines and Jaromir Malek, New York: Checkmark Books/ Facts on File, 2000.

Last updated November 30, 2009