Nubia: The Living Survivor of Traditional Egyptian Architecture
Nubia is a traditional village which lies on the banks of the Nile River in Southern Egypt, west of Aswan. There is also another part of Nubia lies in Norther Sudan. The history of Nubia goes back to 3100 BC and this can be traced through Nubian monuments and artifacts, as well as written records from Egypt and Rome. Nubians speak both the Nubian language as well as Arabic language. The weather of Nubia is harsh throughout the year. However, the Nubian used a specific natural building materials as well as appropriate and varying architectural elements that provided a considerable range of architectural solutions to the specific climate of the region
The African civilization and the culture of the Nubian was unknown until the 1970s, when their monuments and artifacts were discovered and displayed in museums around the world. In September 1995, the sophisticated Nubian civilization, presented the subject of a major exhibition, ‘Ancient Nubia: Egypt's Rival in Africa’, which was held at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, at the University of Michigan. As a consequence, the exhibition's traveling schedule was booked immediately with a waiting list of about 20 museums. The public response was astonishing and the exhibition represented an excellent opportunity for disseminating information and places ancient Nubians and their civilization in a new historical context.
In this exhibition, a wide variety of artifacts, such as ceramic vessels, jewelry, statuary, and funerary inscriptions, document the rise and fall of a series of Nubian kingdoms. The richness and variety of their indigenous cultures, and the complicated relationships they had with the pharaonic state of Egypt were also introduced.
The architecture of Nubia village is unique and the houses are spacious, clean and harmonious. The whole village seems to be severed from its true roots in nature and the buildings were arranged as if they were a natural growth in the landscape. This traditional village can be considered as continuity with the past and this can be sensed in numerous ways. For example, the natural surroundings provided Nubia with raw materials for ancient crafts such as mud-brick. Perfectly adapted to their environment, the Nubian traditional dwellings incorporated dried mud-brick and wood.
The typical Nubian house is very spacious, with several large rooms arranged around a central open courtyard. The main façade of the house is usually painted with distinctive colorful geometric patterns, which have religious implications as well as references to the Nubian culture. Nubia is a living example of vernacular architecture, where the inhabitants retained a technique for roofing in mud brick, using vaults and domes.
Elements of the Nubian houses such as the internal courtyard were determined by the prevalent climate. Roofs could be flat or vaulted and were used for houses. Domes were used only in religious buildings such as mosques and tombs of the holy people. Floors were mainly of pressed earth. Because windows were small and admitted little light, most activities took place in the outer courtyard. Because they were made of local materials such houses were inexpensive. Walls were made of mud-brick to keep the interiors cool in summer and warm in winter as well as decorated with claustrawork, mouldings and tracery in mud. Strong emotional and spiritual ties bound families to their houses and their land.