Listen to this article here
Overlooked by Western scholars and nearly hidden by the sands of time, the Nubian pyramids of present-day Sudan number in the hundreds, far more than those found in Egypt.
Sprawled throughout the Sahara Desert in the southern edge of present-day Sudan, the Nubians who once conquered Egypt brought the culture of pyramid-building to their Kingdom of Kush.
Few visitors are able to make the journey to the ancient city of Meroe, the former capital of Kush. Yet those who do are able to witness a bewildering sight of stone pyramids.
Nubian empire once conquered Egypt
After at first being conquered by Egypt, the Nubian empire eventually rose up as the dominant power in the region, even conquering Egypt for a time, according to JSTOR Daily, a digital library containing scholarly reviewed articles.
Like many civilizations who adopted cultural practices of those they conquered, the Nubians brought the practice of pyramid-building from Egypt to their kingdom. Scholars agree that the Nubian empire first rose to prominence in 1,000 BCE, and by 700 BCE, the first Nubian pyramids were built.
Located over 200km from Sudan’s major city Khartoum, the Nubian pyramids rise out of inhospitable desert terrain like a science fiction movie, popping up along the east bank of the Nile river near a group of villages called Bagrawiyah, according to a report from Aljazeera.
For years, from 712 to 657 BCE, the Kushite Kings ruled Egypt. By 300 BCE, the capital and royal burial ground moved to Meroe.
Nubian pyramids: ancient Black history
Unlike the pyramids of Egypt, which contained tombs for pharaohs inside them, British excavators in 1897 discovered the tombs of the Nubian pyramids were located underneath the structures.
“So, the Nubian pyramids, rather than being tombs, were really enormous headstones. They are very close together, carefully aligned with certain stars. The pyramids had solid sides with a fill center, a very practical form of pyramid construction also used in Mesoamerica,” JSTOR Daily’s Bob Brier wrote.
In recent years, climate change has lead to unusually heavy rains in the region, leading to the flooding of the nile, which threatens the structural integrity of these ancient pyramids, the Smithsonian reported in 2020. It adds to the damage caused by looters who’ve pillaged some pieces from the pyramids.
Yet the brilliance and prestige of the Nubian pyramids have stood throughout the sands of time, waiting for a new generation to admire the legacies of Black excellence.