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By The Walters Art GalleryBaltimore / February 18, 1982



The kingdom of Kush, founded in the early first millenium B.C., is the oldest organized African state of which we so far have knowledge. It was located in the area now occupied by the modern Sudan in the great bend of the Nile River just below Egypt. This was on the important trade route from the north to inner Africa. The peoples of this area had for several thousand years been in contact with the civilization of Ancient Egypt and had become highly Egyptianized. The immediate predecessors of this king had, indeed, conquered Egypt and ruled as pharoahs of the XXV Dynasty from 730-663 B.C. in order, they said, to restore that much weakened country (the ''Bruised Reed'' of 2 Kings 18:21) to ''righteousness.'' It was these vigorous black pharoahs who were involved in the international politics of the Middle East in the time of Hezekiah and Isaiah during the final expansive push of the great Assyrian empire in the 7th century B.C. The Pharoah Taharqo (Biblical Tirhakah) fought the Assyrians in Palestine in 701 B.C., but finally lost even his foothold in Egypt to them. The new racial features of the pharoahs are not mentioned in the Bible although Tirhakah is once spoken of as ''King of Ethiopia'' (2 Kings 19:9).

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