Wikijunior:Ancient Civilizations/Kushites

What country did they live in?


The Kushites lived in Kush, also known as Nubia, from around 3100 BC to around 400 AD. Nubia was a region in East Africa, in what is today northern Sudan. Their culture was influenced somewhat by their Egyptian neighbors to the north. Their capital city changed several times, from Kerma in the north, to Napata farther south, to Meroë even farther south, but all three were on the Nile river.

The Kushites lived in East Africa, in the country of Nubia. They lived around the capital, Napata. Today, Napata is in central Sudan and it is south of what is known as Nubia. There are several rivers running through Nubia. They are the Nile, the Atabara, and the Blue and White Nile run through a small patch of Nubia. There is one river running through lower Nubia. The Kushite empire lasted until 350 AD. In this year the Kushite kingdom fell.[1]

What did their buildings look like?


The Kushites built many pyramids similar to those of Egypt, though smaller and steeper. In Meroë, (the capital city of Kush) they lived in rectangular brick houses made of mud. These houses usually included several rooms and had flat roofs.

Some of the nomadic Kushites built huts covered with reeds or animal skins.

What did they eat?


Cattle were very important to the Kushites, because of their religion and their diet included beef, milk, and dairy products. They also ate some grains like millet and barley, some vegetables, and dates. They bred on their farms but they wouldn't eat pig because they thought they had leprosy. The poor hardly ever got to eat meat.

What did they wear?


Men wore loin clothes and tunics made of linen, while women wore simple long skirts. Women also wore heavy ornaments including headbands, a large bracelets, and armlets.

In later times, when the capital city had moved to Meroë, the people wore long, fancy robes and a lot of jewelry. Many poor people wore cloth made out of lamb's wool.

What did their writing look like?


The Kushites used the Meroitic language (named after the city of Meroë, which was the capital around 600 BC). Meroitic has both hieroglyphic letters and cursive letters, both of which are similar to those of the Egyptians. The Meroitic script was written from right to left, like Egyptian and other Arabic languages. We know what sounds the letters make, but do not yet know what most of the words mean, except for names of people.

What did they believe?


The Kushite religion was very similar to the Egyptian religion, borrowing most of their gods. Amon, who was shown as a ram, was the primary god, but there were many others. Many regions had their own gods and goddesses they worshipped. Gods and goddesses native to the Kushites include Amesemi and Apedemak, a lion god.

Frogs were important to the Kushites, and were associated with rain.

Are some of them famous even today?


The name, "Candace", comes from a queen of Kush (Kandake of Kush).

What is left of them today?


The influence of Kush can be seen in Africa today, especially in Sudan. The huts of workers in Sudan are very similar to ancient Kushite huts which have been excavated.

While most of the myths and legends of the Kushite people have been lost, there are a few stories about Kush that still exist today. For example, Aida, an opera from the nineteenth century by Giuseppe Verdi, tells the story of a Kushite princess.


  1. "The Ancient World". 1998.