The Rule of the Kashif
For several centuries Arab caliphs had governed Egypt through
the Mamluks. In the thirteenth century, the Mamluks seized control
of the state and created a sultanate that ruled Egypt until the
early sixteenth century. Although they repeatedly launched military
expeditions that weakened Dunqulah, the Mamluks did not directly
rule Nubia. In 1517 the Turks conquered Egypt and incorporated
the country into the Ottoman Empire as a pashalik (province).
Ottoman forces pursued fleeing Mamluks into Nubia, which had
been claimed as a dependency of the Egyptian pashalik.
Although they established administrative structures in ports on
the Red Sea coast, the Ottomans exerted little authority over
the interior. Instead, the Ottomans relied on military kashif
(leaders), who controlled their virtually autonomous fiefs as
agents of the pasha in Cairo, to rule the interior. The rule of
the kashif, many of whom were Mamluks who had made their
peace with the Ottomans, lasted 300 years. Concerned with little
more than tax collecting and slave trading, the military leaders
terrorized the population and constantly fought among themselves
for title to territory.
Data as of June 1991