Elephantine – “Elephant’s Town”
The development of trade contributed to the richness of tribal chieftains and facilitated the penetration of Egyptian culture and religion into Nubia. Egyptians, in order to control exchange with the south, established a trading post on the island of Elephantine (ancient Abu, literally “Elephant’s town”; today it is part of the city of Asuan). Another place of exchange was Chor Daud where archaeologists uncovered over 500 storage pits with imported Predynastic pottery. Interestingly, local pottery imitating Egyptian vessels was almost equal in terms of quality to the original – the production of so called black-topped vessels initiated at that time would be continued for the next 1500 years. Richly equipped graves of local tribal chieftains unearthed at Sajala and Kustul indicate that this class derived the greatest benefits from the development of trade, which itself led to diffusing some elements of Egyptian culture and beliefs (such as depositing clay female figurins in graves).
In the time of Dynasty I (ca. 3000-2890 BC) the policy of Egyptian rulers towards the region stretching to the south of Elephantine changed dramatically. An inscription carved on the tablet dating to as early as the time of pharaoh Aha mentions a victory over Ta-Seti land, i.e. the first nome of Upper Egypt (today’s northern Nubia). The war expedition led by his successor, Djer, reached the area of the Second Cataract; probably a famous rock grafitti at Gelebel near Wadi Halfa depicting a defeated Nubian chieftain should be attributed to this campaign. In the result of such military raids, or maybe due to climatic changes, between 2900 and 2800 BC the communities of Group A abandoned their homeland and they moved probably to desert regions or to the south.