Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sudan's Pyramids Still Perplexing

Landscape of Kush pyramids at Meroe.

While archaeologists have thoroughly excavated the 100 or so pyramids in Sudan, many aspects of the ancient Kush civilization that built them remain a mystery. According to Cosmos magazine:
Kush was one of the earliest civilizations in the Nile valley and, at first, was dominated by Egypt. The Nubians eventually gained their independence and, at the height of their power, they turned the table on Egypt and conquered it in the 8th century BC. They occupied the entire Nile valley for a century before being forced back into what is now Sudan.
At the center of the exploration is Meroe, located northeast of Khartoum and the last capital of Kush. The Meroe dynasty was the last in a line of "black pharaohs" that ruled Kush for more than 1,000 years until 350 AD. Meroe had three cemeteries containing more than 100 pyramids, smaller than their Egyptian counterparts. The largest are 30 meters tall and the angles are steep, some close to 70 degrees.

"We have a chronology, but it's not very precise," says Salah Mohammed Ahmed, deputy director of Sudan antiquities.

"We know about 50 words in Meroitic, but we need about a thousand of them to understand a language. So we have an enormous amount of work to do," Claude Rilly, head of the French section of Sudanese antiquities in Khartoum and a leading expert in the ancient language, told Cosmos.

Click here for the Cosmos Magazine article.

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