chapter  5
Ancient Egypt and the Source of the Nile
Pages 22

The relationships between the cultural traditions of the societies in Meroitic Nubia and those in Egypt were clearly complex, involving different levels of interaction and inspiration. In the broader context of Africa, Nubia certainly served as a corridor of transmission in terms of trade between the Lower Nile and the savannahs beyond the Middle Nile. In the realm of ritual and political culture there was also much inspiration from Egypt in Nubia, but in this case Egyptian symbols and practices were construed in terms of the social behaviours and political intrigues of Nubia. As such, Egyptian iconography and religious motifs ceased to be Egyptian and became Meroitic, and were utilized by elites and communities in Nubia as potent symbols in maintaining and modifying Nubian power relationships. In understanding Nubian society of the past, therefore, people must be wary of interpreting apparently Egyptian symbols in Egyptian terms, and attempt instead to understand the traditional dynamics of Nubia in Nubian terms.