Alternative Names for Nubia

Three terms for Kush-Nubia region are used in ancient and medieval sources; these are Kush, Ethiopia,and recently Sudan.


The Ancient Nubians referred to their land as Kash of which the name Kush has descended. The name Kush, as opposed to Ethiopia, is found in some Biblical sources and sometimes is spelled as Cush.


In Biblical and Hellenistic sources, the region of Nubia is named Ethiopia and is spelled, in some instances Aethiopia. Scholars today frequently misreference the land of ancient Ethiopia to the modern Republic of Ethiopia. Examination of ancient and medieval sources indicate the actual location of hisrorical Ethiopia to be within the political boundries of the modern Republic of Sudan.

© Bahr El Jebel Safaris
Papyrus, the main plant that grows in the vegetation mass of the Sudd (Sudan).

It must be noted that there is a potential distinction between the modern Nubians and ancient Kushites. The name Nubia, which is widely used to designate the people of Kush, may have originated from the Noubades or Noba. The latter were a people who dominated the Kushite kingdom beginning in the third century CE. Since Nubia was a source of gold to the ancient Egyptians, some historians believe that the term may have originated from the Egyptian word Nub meaning gold. The latter argument, nonetheless, is increasingly doubted by scholars.


The original term Sudd, from which the modern term Sudan is derived, refers to a vast expanse of floating water plants or swamps. The earliest mention of the word Sudd in reference to modern Sudan appear in the writings of Seneca, who recorded an expedition sent by the Roman Emperor Nero to central Sudan. Later in history, Arab writers, unaware of the origin of the word Sudan, interpreted the term as being derived from the Arabic word Soud, meaning Blacks.

The primary material of the website is authored by Ibrahim Omer © 2008.