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Sudan, History

Funj, Nubian Desert, Sennar, Alwa, Nile River

From remote antiquity until relatively recent times the northern portion of the territory comprising modern Sudan formed part of the region known as Nubia. The history of Nilotic, or southern, Sudan before the 19th century is obscure. Egyptian penetration of Nubia began during the period of the Old Kingdom (about 2575-2134 bc). By 1550 bc, when the 18th Dynasty was founded, Nubia had been reduced to the status of an Egyptian province. The region between the Nubian Desert and the Nile River contains numerous monuments, ruins, and other relics of the period of Egyptian dominance, which was ended by a Nubian revolt in the 8th century bc. A succession of independent kingdoms was subsequently established in Nubia. The most powerful of these, Makuria, a Christian state centered at Old Dunqulah and founded in the 6th century ad, endured until the early-14th-century invasion of the Egyptian Mamluks. Another, Alwa, its capital at Soba in the vicinity of present-day Khartoum, was overwhelmed about 1500 by the Funj, black Muslims of uncertain origin, who established a sultanate at Sennar.

During the 16th century, the Funj emerged as a powerful Islamic state, and Sennar became one of the great cultural centers of Islam. Dissension among the leading Funj tribes vastly weakened the kingdom during the final years of the 18th century. In 1820 it was invaded by an Egyptian army. The ensuing war ended in 1822 with a complete victory for Egypt (at that time a province of the Ottoman Empire). The greater part of Nubia thereupon became an Egyptian province, known as the Egyptian Sudan. Turkish-Egyptian rule, which was marked by southward expansion of the province, endured for 60 years. Internal unrest, resulting from the slave trade and general administrative incompetence, mounted steadily during this period. Between 1877 and 1880, when British general and administrator Charles George Gordon served as governor of Egyptian Sudan, efforts were made to suppress the slave trade and other abuses.

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Article key phrases:

Funj, Nubian Desert, Sennar, Alwa, Nile River, Egyptian army, Old Kingdom, Nubia, Dissension, complete victory, Ottoman Empire, slave trade, Soba, sultanate, Dynasty, northern portion, final years, century bc, ruins, relics, abuses, territory, capital, century ad, century, recent times, kingdom, status, region, period, efforts, time


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