Egypt reached its peak of power and prosperity during the New Kingdom, but by the 11th century BCE, Egypt was in decline. With most of its empire gone and exhausted by conflicts, it finally lost its grip on a rebellious Nubia. Now divided into two dynasties, and run by ‘barbarian’ Libyan pharaohs, Egypt had become ‘tribal’ and many of its sacred practices abandoned. South of the border Nubia, no longer under Egyptian hegemony, had become so assimilated into the coloniser’s culture that they worshipped the same gods and adopted Egyptian artistic practices, such as the Egyptian style royal reliefs at Kawa. The Kushite kings established themselves as the ruling dynasty in Nubia, crushing any resistance. Convinced the god Amun was born at the temple in Gebel Barkal, they made it the spiritual heart of Napata and used it as a sign that they should occupy Thebes, also Amun’s sacred home. Ultimately, under Piy’s leadership, they conquered Upper and Lower Egypt, creating the 25th Dynasty (728–657 BCE).
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