The Pyramids of Meroë

On the way from Khartoum to Port Sudan, about 200 km north-east of Khartoum, near Bagrawiya, the traveller passes by the area of the ancient Meroë, where he can find a group of a few dozens of pyramids spread over a small hill about one quarter square kilometer in size. The pyramids, much smaller than their well-known counterparts in Egypt, are the remains of a royal cemetery from the Meroitic kingdom (between 300 B.C. and 300 A.D.).
Northern Cemetery Ancient approach
The region of the Nile Valley which lies in the northern part of the present Sudan, has been influenced by the Egyptian civilization since the time of the Ancient Egyptian Kingdom. This influence grew stronger during the occupation by Egypt in the period of the Middle Kingdom and reached its summit after the Egyptians conquered the whole region up to the 4th Nile Cataract.
The Egyptian colonization lasted for almost five centuries and came to an end when in the twelfth century B.C. the Egyptian Empire fell into pieces.
4oo years later it were the kings of Napata in northern Sudan who ruled the Nile Valley from the Blue Nile down to the Delta. They revived the burial customs of the pyramid many centuries after the Pharaos had stopped building them and employed Egyptian artists in their architectural works. While the Napatan kingdom had to give up Egypt in 661 B.C. and subsequently the Egyptian influence started to decline, the burial traditions still survived and, after the the transfer of the kingship to the Meroitic line in the third century B.C., were taken over by the kings of Meroë.
Pyramid N 19
Typical drawing Present approach
Excavations at Bagrawiya started in the 19th century, when the Europeans made their first archaeological expeditions into Nubia. When the British took control over Sudan in its new boundaries, part of the treasury had already been brought to Paris, Munich and Berlin. As most of the remains was left unprotected at that time, it experienced severe damage by the steady action of winds and dust storms over the decades of this century.
Today the most urgent preservation work is done by a small group of specialists under the leading of F.W.Hinkel, a German Architect and Archaeologist, supported by the Sudanese government and some international aid.

Related links:
Meroë Pyramids.
Sudan Archaeological Society in Berlin, focussing its work on the site of Musawwarat As-Sufra.
Ancient Nubia, an exhibition.
Ancient Kingdoms in Sudan, an exhibition (in German).
Inside a Chamber

Sudan | Art | Music | Pyramids | Sat Image

© Dec-13-2003 - Michael Hüther -