I have been reading through the Preface of William Y. Adams Nubia: Corridor to Africa. He makes interesting observations on the various geological features of each of the "reaches" based upon their underlying base formations. Those with granite as the surface layer provide little or no capacity for farming and the river is often next to impossible to navigate even with small craft due to submerged boulders. The areas which are surfaced by sandstone, often have riverbanks suitable for farming into even some of the wadis away from the river, but windblown sand often limits cultivation to a single bank of the Nile. Overland routes for trade and communication become the best means to move north and south in certain reaches. This seems to explain the lack of a united Nubian kingdom in most periods of the region's history. Rainfall is less than an inch per year (!) from Aswan (first cataract) to just above Khartoum (beyond the fifth cataract), therefore farming is totally dependent on the flow of the Nile as it was in Egypt. The difference is a lack of canals to channel the water which formed the basis for Egyptian crop surpluses in Pharaonic times. Nubian farming efforts seem to be largely at subsistence levels. Nubian "high" culture would then seem to rise as the Nubians began settling areas further to the south with greater rainfall potential, first at Kerma, then south to Napata, and then even further south at Meroe.
From Medjay Archer (same post as above)
Also, I've read somewhere at some point that the monsoon rains were more common about 6000BCE because the Earth axis allowed such climate as far as the central Sahara, making it far smaller and thus allowing both a pastoralist culture into the Sahara (see the "Black Mummy" on youtube for instance). Nubia also benefitted of such favorable climate. Over time, the nice climate region shifted towards Meroe.
Geographers refer to northern Nubia as "Lower Nubia" and to southern Nubia as "Upper Nubia." The reason for this is because the Nile River in Nubia, unlike other rivers of the world, flows from the south to the north. So up the Nile is actually going south.
Indigo Lu's insight:
I didn't realise the Upper Nubia was south of the Lower Nubia.
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