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THE FIRST EXPLORERS


It's with the Greek world and the scientific approach of the first geographers that the knowledge of historical of Nubia has been possible.

 

To learn more, click here (annexe 1)


However, Nubia rises up again from the sands  thanks to the merchants, the missionaries and the intrepid travellers. Two explorers mark the XVIII Century: Frederic-Louis Norden and James Bruce. In the years 1737-1738, Norden goes over the Cataracts Nile. His book, Travel from Egypt and Nubia, allows the French readers to uncover the Eastern part of Africa. He is the first one to use the term Great Nubia. Also, he is very concerned about the salvage of this area. In 1772, it is the turn of James Bruce. After visiting Ethiopia, he explores the country situated between Sennar and Aswan and identifies the remains of the antique city of Meroe (Begrawiya). His writings, Travels to Discover the Sources of the Nile in the Years 1763-73, are published in 1813.

 

During the following centuries, the politicians and the military motivate the explorers and discoverers. 

 

Bonaparte and the French expedition incite the Western European interest for Egypt. This action transforms an eventual conflict into a possible collaboration between two cultures and motives Egypt to go down toward the High Nil. In 1821, the third son of Muhammed Ali leads a campaign to annex, eight months later, a territory controlled by the Foung tribe. This raid has an impact on the future Sudanese archaeology, where some explorers like Frederic Caillaud are coming with the Egyptian army.

 

At the end of the XIX Century, Sudan refuses Egyptian occupation and, behind it, the Great Britain. A very emblematic Sudanese personage, called Mahdi, leads the battles. Charles Gordon, a British colonel is murdered, but about ten years later Herbert Kitchener his compatriot, crushes totally the Mahdi's army. 

In 1899, Sudan becomes an Anglo-Egyptian condominium, opening the way to the discoveries and the travellers passion. They are the British and the French who are the first at the Nubia doors.

Thomas Legh, Charles Smelt, François Barthou, William John Bankes, Giovanni Finati, Belzoni, Burckhardt, come on stage.

 

Société des Cultures Nubiennes

In 1816, Frederic Caillaud is in charge by the Egyptian vice-king to recover the Emerald mines from the Eastern desert which had been used under the reign of Ptolemy VI. Two other Bretons escort him: the midshipman Pierre-Constant Letorzec and the engineer officer in the Navy, Maurice Linant de Bellefonds. F. Caillaud publishes « Voyage à Méroé, au Fleuve Blanc, au-delà du Fazoql dans le royaume de Sennar, à Syouah et dans cinq autres oasis, fait dans les années 1819, 1820, 1821 et 1822 ». His works are very precious for Jean-François Champollion when this one arrives to the “Corridor of Africa”.

Between the discoverers, the competition is real.

 

 To learn more, click here (annexe 2)

 

The Franco-Tuscan mission led by Jean-François Champollion and Ippolito Rosellini, is part of the XIX Century great scientific expeditions. This trip (1828-1829) allows confirming the rightness of the hieroglyphic global lecture and the knowledge of the Egyptian writing.

 

The mission studies the Abou Simbel temples, after the discovery of the Second Cataract and then the sanctuaries of Lower Nubia. Le Journal de voyage and La Correspondance written by Champollion reflect the enthusiasm of the expedition team. The publication “Lettres et Journaux” is also an ethnographic delight: it mentions the wind which turns into a “furious sea” the Nile river, the diners under the moonlight and the chiefs of caravans who are escorted by their slaves. Back to France, Champollion elected at the “Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres” , receives the Egyptology chair created specially for him at the “Collège de France”. But he has only still two years to live; during them, he writes his “Grammar”.

 

The German scientific Karl Richard Lepsius, protected by the Humboldt brothers (German intelligentsia) continues Champollion’s work. Lepsius pays tribute to his master completing his hieroglyphic approach. He establishes a historiographic chronology and gives to the Egyptian pantheon a better understanding. The king Frederic William IV finances a mission in Egypt and Nubia (1842-1845). With a remarkable methodology, Lepsius explores all the area from Khartoum to Aswan and, like Champollion, collects a lot of information about the monuments and the sites. He publishes “Egyptian and Ethiopian Monuments”

The ladies come on stage with “A Thousand Miles up the Nile” of Emilia B. Edwards, one of the first women to discover the “Corridor of Africa”

 

In 1902, the British Administration, which will control the country until 1956, creates the Antiquities Service. Next year, it obliges all digging works to get a preliminary authorization in order to avoid the robbery of the objects which are not indexed.

 

On this subject, please consult the “Nubie des Pyamides” of Joy Soulé-Nan

 

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scn egypte soudan nil desert nubie nubia pyramides cataractes meroe kawa djebel barkal kerma ile de sai
scn egypte soudan nil desert nubie nubia pyramides cataractes meroe kawa djebel barkal kerma ile de sai