ancient Miam (Mjʿm), was founded during the Middle Kingdom, perhaps under Senwosret I (22°40′N, 32°01′E). During the New Kingdom, it served as the administrative capital of colonized Wawat (Lower Nubia) and the residence of one of the Deputies (jdnw) of the viceroy of Kush, the colonial official in charge of Upper and Lower Nubia. Miam was centered on one of three fertile stretches of floodplain that marked Lower Nubian native polities, each of which was the focus of a principality during the New Kingdom. The Ramessid-era occupation, including the rock-cut tomb of Pennut saved during the Aswan High Dam salvage campaign, provided important evidence for the later colonial occupation of Nubia, refuting the idea of depopulation after the eighteenth dynasty. It remained a key center during this period, serving as a base for the powerful Viceroy Panhesy, who retreated here after his unsuccessful attempt to wrest control of kingship from Ramesses XI (r. 1111–1081 BCE).


Aniba. Plan of Aniba. The map shows the location of the site and the Cataracts of the Nile. (Courtesy Stewart Tyson Smith and David Lawson)

Survey and excavations by Arthur Weigall, C. Leonard Woolley, Walter B. Emery and L. P. Kirwan, Georg Steindorff, and Abdel Moneim abu Bakr revealed the remains of a large fortified town that underwent several expansions from the Middle Kingdom to the New Kingdom, eventually reaching a size of 8 hectares (about 20 acres). Major discoveries included the remains of a stone temple dedicated to Horus, Lord of Miam; a building identified by the excavators as a treasury; and a set of storage magazines to the north of the city with inscribed door jambs, naming Nehi, viceroy under Thutmose III (r. 1504–1452 BCE). Nearby was a rare example of a Nubian C-Group settlement of round, semisubterranean houses with stone foundations.

A small A-Group cemetery and a major C-Group cemetery with more than one thousand graves were found to the north of the fortress. The C-Group cemetery was important for understanding the evolution of C-Group tombs through the Second Intermediate Period; the mix of Egyptian with native tomb architecture and burial practices shed light on the process of interaction that preceded acculturation in the New Kingdom. David O'Connor in Ancient Nubia: Egypt's Rival in Africa (Philadelphia, 1993, pp. 33–36) has argued that evidence for social stratification in the later phases of that cemetery, including the use of monolithic stelae and the differential size of tumuli, indicated that Aniba was the center of a C-Group polity that ruled all of Lower Nubia (although a lack of comparable evidence from other sites hampers his argument).

The extensive Egyptian cemetery to the south of city provided information on the Egyptian colony from the late Middle Kingdom through the New Kingdom. Aniba also provided many excellent examples of New Kingdom tomb superstructures, including both rectilinear and pyramid chapels of mud brick, which were similar to contemporary examples at Dier el-Medina and Dra Abul Naga in the Theban necropolis. Numerous inscriptions on stelae and grave goods indicated that Aniba was an important center for the exploitation of Nubian gold during the New Kingdom; the titles inscribed included those for gold workers, chiefs of gold workers, scribe-reckoners of gold, and overseers of the treasury. Another title revealed that Aniba had its own branch of the royal treasury. The burials provided important evidence for the range of Egyptian colonial society, documenting both Egyptianization and the use of local administrators in high posts during the New Kingdom.


  • Moneim abu Bakr, Abdel. Fouilles en Nubie. 2 vols. Cairo, 1963 and 1967. Preliminary reports on the final excavations at Aniba during the Aswan High Dam Salvage Campaign.
  • Simpson, William Kelly. Heka-Nefer and the Dynastic Material from Toshka and Arminna. New Haven and Philadelphia, 1963. Discussion and report on the tombs of the Princes of Miam and associated sites.
  • Steindorff, Georg. Aniba. 2 vols. Hamburg, 1935 and 1937. The most substantial publication on the site, with reports on the major excavations undertaken at Aniba from 1929 to 1934.
  • Vercoutter, Jean. “The Gold of Kush.” Kush 7 (1959), 120–153. Detailed discussion of the organization of gold production in Nubia during the New Kingdom, in which Aniba played a key role.

Stuart Tyson Smith