Meroë Pyramids of the Kingdom of Kush, Sudan

The Kingdom of Kush replaced the New Kingdom of Egypt around 1070 BC. It straddled the strategic region where the River Albara, and the Blue and White Nile merge in what is now Sudan. After it seized control of the Egyptian Delta it created a new capital city, Meroë. Meroë pyramids is now one of the most impressive historic ruins in Africa, even though many of the over two hundred pyramids have crumbled.

Meroë pyramids
Ruined Pyramids of Meroë. Wikimedia Commons: Retlaw Snellac / CC BY 2.0

Ruined Pyramids of Meroë

The Kingdom of Kush waxed powerful down the five centuries that followed. The Greek historian Herodotus described Meroë as, “a great city…said to be the mother city of the other Ethiopians.” Its position on the Nile allowed it to benefit from the annual flooding of the valley. With an army, a stockpile of money, water, and abundant food Meroë seemed invincible.

Finally, the Romans came sniffing after wealth. After they bloodied their noses in 22 BC, the Emperor Nero sent his Praetorian Guard back in 61 AD. The Kushites escorted it past their city in the last great Roman attempt to penetrate Africa. These intact remnants of Meroë provide a glimpse of the glories the Praetorian Guard saw, and were awed.

Meroë pyramids
Sudan Meroe Pyramids: Fabrizio Demartis / CC BY-SA 2.0

Sudan Meroë Pyramids – UNESCO World Heritage Site

The power of the Kush Kingdom, and its capital city with it faded rapidly in the face of the Roman conquest of Egypt. After Christianity replaced the dynasty of the pharaohs, the once mighty city withered away, sapped by war and taxes. The pyramids that once contained fifty royal tombs gave up their riches to grave robbers many centuries ago. All is gone.

The Kush pyramids are smaller than their Egyptian cousins, and have narrower bases and steeper sides. They were once the main attraction for the 150,000 tourists that used to visit Darfur every year. That number has dwindled by 90% since 2003 due to ongoing civil war. Only the brave few still come to admire embellishments borrowed from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. What a mighty empire it once was on a bridge to the ancient world. Get advice where to stay.

Meroë pyramids
Kingdom of Meroe: Tallesman / CC BY 3.0

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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