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Alodia's approximate extent in the 10th century

Alwa (also Alodia , Alodien or Aloda ) was the southernmost of the three Christian Nubian kingdoms and existed from around 500 to 1500 in Upper Nubia around the confluence of the White and Blue Nile in present-day Sudan .

The other two kingdoms, Nobatia and Makuria, are much better known, as Lower Nubia has been well researched archaeologically and these kingdoms were in constant contact with their Arab neighbors, from whose sources a lot can be learned. The area of ​​Alwa, on the other hand, has hardly been developed archaeologically, and even Arabic sources report little about this kingdom. The capital was Soba , one of the few places in Alwa that has been archaeologically excavated.

The beginnings of the empire are completely in the dark, but it was initially pagan and a successor state to the Meroitic empire . According to Byzantine sources, the king of Alwa converted to Christianity in the 6th century. After John of Ephesus the people of Alwa had learned that the kingdom of Nobatia had been Christianized. The king of Alwa sent a letter to the king of Nobatia asking that his people be baptized and taught the Christian doctrine. Longinus, who had already Christianized the kingdom of Nobatia, then traveled to the capital of Alwa and baptized the king and large parts of the people there.

Floor plan of the Soba church complex

Only a few names of kings or events have survived from the following period. After all, the empire was in close contact with Makuria, and the families of the kings of both empires seem to have been closely related at times. There are even indications that both empires were ruled, at least temporarily, by just one king. A special form of Old Nubian is attested as a language .

The northern border of the empire was probably a little south of the fifth Nile cataract . The southern extent is unknown. The southernmost church, which is probably part of Alwa, was at Saqadi , about 50 km west of Sannar . In contrast to Makuria, the empire may also have extended east and west of the Nile, as not only desert is to be found here.

When and how Alodia went down is not clear. The two most common theories are that the empire was either destroyed by Arabs under a certain Abdallah Jammah, probably at the end of the 15th century, or that it was destroyed under the Funj in 1504 . Soba is said to have been captured in this attack, although excavations have shown that the city was already largely in ruins. For the year 1523 the capital Soba is described by the traveler David Reubeni as a city in ruins. A Nubian delegation to the Ethiopian court is attested to in 1540 , asking for help in questions of Christian doctrine. However, this aid was not given. It is not known whether this delegation came from Alwa. A successor state to Alwas could have been the Kingdom of Fazughli .

See also


  • Derek A. Welsby: The Medieval Kingdoms of Nubia: Pagans, Christians and Muslims in the Middle Nile . British Museum Press, London 2002, ISBN 0-7141-1947-4 (introductory work on Nubia in the Middle Ages with a focus on archeology)
  • Derek A. Welsby: The Kingdom of Alwa . In: Julie R. Anderson, Derek A. Welsby: The Fourth Cataract and Beyond: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference for Nubian Studies . Peeters Publishers, Leuven 2014, pp. 183–200, ISBN 9042930446 (on the current state of research)
  • Roland Werner: Christianity in Nubia. History and shape of an African church . Lit, Münster 2013, ISBN 978-3-643-12196-7 (reference work on Christian Nubia)
  • Mohi El-Din Abdalla Zarroung: The Kingdom of Alwa. African Occasional Papers No. 5, The University of Calgary Press, 1991, ISBN 0-919813-94-1 (the only monograph on Alwa, however, in some cases heavily outdated)

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