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Meroë (800 BC – c. AD 350) in southern Nubia lay on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, ca. 200 km north-east of Khartoum. The people there preserved many ancient Egyptian customs, but were unique in many respects. They developed their own form of writing, first utilizing Egyptian hieroglyphs, and later using an alphabetic script with 23 signs. Many pyramids were built in Meroë during this period and the kingdom included an impressive standing military force. Strabo also describes a clash with the Romans in which the Romans defeated Nubians. According to Strabo, following the Kushite advance, Petronius (a Prefect of Egypt at the time) prepared a large army and marched south. The Roman forces clashed with the Kushite armies near Thebes and forced them to retreat to Pselchis (Maharraqa) in Kushite lands. Petronius then sent deputies to the Kushites in an attempt to reach a peace agreement and make certain demands.
Quoting Strabo, the Kushites "desired three days for consideration" in order to make a final decision. However, after the three days, Kush did not respond and Petronius advanced with his armies and took the Kushite city of Premnis (modern Karanog) south of Maharraqa. From there, he advanced all the way south to Napata, the second Capital in Kush after Meroe. Petronius attacked and sacked Napata, causing the son of the Kushite Queen to flee. Strabo describes the defeat of the Kushites at Napata, stating that "He (Petronius) made prisoners of the inhabitants".
During this time, the different parts of the region divided into smaller groups with individual leaders, or generals, each commanding small armies of mercenaries. They fought for control of what is now Nubia and its surrounding territories, leaving the entire region weak and vulnerable to attack. Meroë would eventually meet defeat by the new rising Kingdom of Aksum to their south under King Ezana.
The classification of the Meroitic language is uncertain; it was long assumed to have been one of the Afroasiatic languages like the Egyptian language, but is now considered to have likely been one of the Eastern Sudanic languages.
At some point during the 4th century, the region was conquered by the Noba, from which the name Nubia may derive; another possibility is that it comes from the Egyptian word for gold. From then on, the Romans referred to the area as Nobatia.