The earliest inhabitants of Sudan were Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, who lived and travelled in the region around Khartoum from as early as 30,000 BC. They had domesticated animals by 4000 BC. Cultural influences from Egypt rippled through to Nubia in north-eastern Sudan from around 3000 BC as Egypt’s first dynasty moved south along the river Nile in search of construction materials and slaves. By 2000 BC it had reached as far south as the river Nile’s fourth cataract, more than 700 km beyond Aswan. Egyptian-controlled Nubia was divided into Wawat in the north (centred on Aswan) and Kush in the south (based at Nepata, or the modern Marawi). When Egypt’s power waned in the 11th century BC (the end of the New Kingdom) Kush, with its Egyptian and African influences, mineral resources and its position on trade routes linking the Nile to the Red Sea, became a powerful kingdom. At its height, under King Piantkhi in 750 BC, the whole of Egypt was brought under Kushite control. However, the invasion of Egypt by Assyrian forces in 671 BC forced a retreat to Nepata. From there, the kingdom of Kush continued to exert control over the middle Nile for much of the next millennium, developing a distinctive culture and language. By AD 200 Kush was in decline and was finally overthrown in 350 by the king of Aksum from the Ethiopian highlands.
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