Practical Information in Aswan

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It is possible for tourists to life in a Nubian village and have real contact with Nubian population (in pharaonic history "the black pharao`s"), who will welcome you as one of them, not as a tourist. Although the local ferry takes you to Aswan centre in 15 minutes, living in a Nubian village feels like being far away from the mass tourist resorts. They learn about the Nubian culture and traditions and find back what is lost in the modern European life style: a relaxed atmosphere and a warm social community life.

The Nubian civilization is one of the oldest in the world. Unfortunately, only the spoken Nubian language survived through the ages. There is no written language left, which makes it very hard to do research about the Nubian culture. That’s a pity, because the Nubian history is a very rich one: the old Nubia itself owned gold mines and the most important business route with the rest of Africa run through the Nubian area. Moreover, in the pharaonic period 2500 years ago the Nubians ruled over Egypt. In this period of the “black pharaoh’s”, Egypt reached great wealth.

The Nubians - the primary people of the Nile between Aswan and Khartoum - are seemingly unrelated to other Nilotic or desert tribes of the same region, where they have lived as long as anyone can establish. In ancient times, when the region was known as Kush (covering parts of modern-day Egypt and Sudan), the pharaohs used the Nubians as mercenaries and traders - roles in which they are often depicted in tomb and temple art. Almost all of the XXV Dynasty ("Ethiopian" or "Kushite") pharaohs were of Nubian birth, and some claim that Cleopatra (or Kilu baba tarati - "Beautiful Woman") was a Nubian born near Wadi Halfa.

Traditional Nubian life centred around villages of extended families, each with its own compound of domed houses. The people made a livelihood farming the verges of the river, planting date palms, corn and durra melons, as well as fishing and transporting trade goods. Socially and spiritually, the Nile formed the basis of their existence. The whole village celebrated births, weddings and circumcision ceremonies with Nile rituals, and, despite converting first to Christianity and then to Islam, they retained a belief in water spirits, petitioning them for favours. They also brewed beer and date wine. This way of life - which had existed pretty much unchanged for five millennia - was shattered by the Aswan Dams The first dam, built in 1902 and successively raised, forced the Nubians to move onto higher, unfertile ground: unable to subsist on agriculture, many of the menfolk left for Cairo and the cities, sending back remittances to keep the villages going. With construction of the High Dam, the Nubians' traditional homeland was entirely submerged, displacing the entire 800,000-strong community. Around half of them moved north, settling around Aswan and Kom Ombo, where the government provided homes and assistance with agriculture and irrigation. The rest were repatriated to Sudan, where many ended up in the Kassala/New Halfa area, a thousand miles to the south.

More information www.adifferentegypt.com

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August 16, 2008 change by ellenabdel (1 point)

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