Christianity changed Nubian society
Nubia consisted of the three kingdoms of Noubadia, Makuria, and Alwa when Byzantine missionaries converted it to Christianity just before 600 AD. The conversion brought great social change and introduced a new set of symbols for art and architecture.Many churches were built, some richly decorated with paintings, and Christian motifs like the cross and the fish appear on painted pottery. With the new religious beliefs, burials became simple graves devoid of grave goods except for clothing and wrappings. After Muslims conquered Egypt in 641, an Arab army attacked Makuria, the Nubian capital. But Nubian archers whose aims were so accurate that Muslims called them “eyesmiters” drove the attackers away. In 651 Christian Nubia and Muslim Egypt negotiated a peace treaty called the Baqt (pact) that was also a trade agreement.
Islam came gradually to Nubia
The Baqt regulated trade relations between Christian Nubia and Islamic Egypt for almost 600 years. Aswan and Qasr Ibrim were the centers for this trade, which focused on gold, ivory, and slaves, exchanged for Egyptian textiles, ceramics, and glass. In northern Nubia, trade was controlled by Muslim merchants who used coinage; the southern kingdoms conducted trade by barter as a royal monopoly. The great leader Saladin, who defeated the Crusaders in the Holy Land, attacked northern Nubia from Egypt in the 12th century. As Nubian kingdoms weakened, campaigns led by Egypt's Mamluk rulers and incursions of Arabs brought increasing Islamic influence to Nubia in the 14th and 15th centuries. Nubians gradually converted to Islam,
Revised: October 15, 2007