Nubian Pyramids

The number of pyramids in ancient Nubia (aka kingdom of Kush & today is called Sudan) were a total of 223, double the pyramids of its neighbor Egypt. The underground graves of the Nubian pyramids were richly decorated. All pyramids were not monuments of kings is evinced by their great number. Other grandees of the empire, especially priests of high rank, or such as had obtained the sacerdotal dignity, might have found in them their final resting place. The well-known British writer Basil Davidson described Meroë as one of the largest archeological sites in the world.

History Note:

Around 1000 BC, following the collapse of the New Kingdom in Egypt, the Nubian kingdom of Kush reemerged as a great power in the Middle Nile. Between 712-657 BC, Sudanese kings conquered and ruled Egypt, as the XXVth Dynasty. By about 300 BC the center of the kingdom had shifted south to the Meroë region in central Sudan, where the pyramids and tombs were built to house the bodies of their kings and queens.

All the tombs at Meroë have been plundered, most infamously by Italian explorer Giuseppe Ferlini (1800-1870) who smashed the tops off 40 pyramids in a quest for treasure in the 1820s. Ferlini found only one cache of gold. His finds were later sold, and remain at the museums in Munich and Berlin.

His aim was not to study the pyramids.

Pyramids of Nuri, Nubia

Inside the tomb of King Taharqa, Pyramid at Nuri

Nubia rivaled Egypt in wealth and power, and mutually influenced each other.

The Pyramids at Nuri. Located west of the Nile in Upper Nubia. This cemetery contained 21 kings, together with 52 queens and princes. Taharqa, the king of the 25th Dynasty was the first king to build his tomb at Nuri (Tomb no. 1), and it is the biggest pyramid ever built at the site. Queen Amanishakheto was buried in Nuri. View the Lion Temples. King Senkamanisken (Tomb no. 3). Treasuers of King Aspelta (Tomb no. 8).

The Pyramids of Meroë. Between the 5th and 6th cataracts. During the Meroitic Period over forty kings and queens were buried at Meroë. Forty generations of Nubian royalty are buried in Meroë, and every royal Nubian tomb is housed within a pyramid. The Meroitic South cemetery contained the tombs of three kings, Arikakaman, Yesruwaman, and Kaltaly, as well as six queens. Several hundred yards to the north, the Meroitic North cemetery held an additional 30 kings and 6 queens, successors of the South cemetery group. Their tombs, built under steep pyramids, were all badly plundered in ancient times, but pictures preserved in the tomb chapels tell us that the rulers were mummified and covered with jewelry and laid in wooden mummy cases. The larger tombs still contained remains of weapons, bows, quivers of arrows, archer's thumb rings, horse harnesses, wooden boxes and furniture, pottery, colored glass and metal vessels, and other things, many of them imported from Egypt and the Greek and Roman worlds. Meroë belongs to the most important monuments of the beginning of civilization on the African continent. Queen Bartare (260-250 B.C.) was the last monarch to be buried in Meroë. Queen Kanarta. Tomb of Amanikhabale, and Queen Amanitore was also buried in Meroë.

The Pyramids of el-Kurru. The first Nubian pyramids were built at the site of el-Kurru. The site at el-Kurru contains the tombs of King Kashta and his son Piye (Piankhi), five earlier generations, together with Piye's successors Shabaka, Shebitqo and Tanwetamani and 14 pyramids of the queens.

Tomb of King Tarekeniwal at Meroë 100 A.D.

Meroë, the ruins of the 'Royal City' are located on the Nile banks.

Pyramids at Meroe, Sudan The largest site of Kush civilization burial pyramids lies north of Khartoum, along the Nile River in ancient Meroe, Sudan.

The Amun Temple served as a principle Kushite religious center near Shendi in what is now northern Sudan. This monumental statue is part of a group of twelve identical statues which form the alley leading to the Temple of Amon at Naga. The restoration of the ram's fleece, in spiral curls, is also found on the even larger statues which border the access to the Temple of Amon at Meroe.

King Arnekhamani, Horus, and wife at the "Lion Temple" at Musawwarat es-Sufra.

Archaeological excavation of sites in Nubia (Sudan) confirmed human habitation in the river valley during the Paleolithic period that spanned more than 60,000 years of Sudanese history. Most of Sudan remains unexcavated, and archaeologists have little idea of its layout of ancient times.

To date we know of three successive kingdoms of Nubia (aka Kush), each with its own capital: the Kingdom of Kerma (2400-1500 BC), that of Napata (1000-300 BC) and finally that of Meroë (300 BC-300 AD). This is not including the elusive A-Group (3800-2800 BC) which little is known, but there is ongoing excavations. What is known as the A-group cemeteries found in Nubia represent its Neolithic culture, and extended along the whole length of Lower Nubia and even beyond the Second Cataract about 200 kilometres south of Aswan. Archaeologists found thousands of graves containing a wide variety of pottery, leather garments, ostrich-feather fans, copper weapons and palettes of quartz, all of which indicated the level of civilization reached by the Nubians. (Latest Findings)

The largest site of Nubian civilization burial pyramids lies north of Khartoum, along the Nile River in ancient Meroë. These pyramids were built by the Kushite people of ancient Sudan to house the bodies of departed kings. They were located in Meroë, the last significant Kushite state.

Eventually the old cultures of Nubia and Egypt changed radically due to the immigration of foreigners into the Nile Valley. Egypt was overpowered by Rome in 332 B.C., Axum Kingdom (modern Ethiopia) attacked Nubia, destroyed Meroë, Kushites fled west toward Lake Chad, West Africa, in 350 A.D. Aksumite people were product of cultural and genetic mixing of Kushite and Semitics from Yemen in south Arabia.


Unfortunately, the likelihood of further archaeological study at any sites in Nubia, is all but impossible became many of the primary areas of investigation now lie under 250 feet of water, at the bottom of Lake Nasser. This man-made lake covers an area of approximately 500 square miles, and it is the second largest man-made lake in the world. Over 40,000 Nubians and Sudanese were forced to relocate off the land their ancestors had called home for over 5,000 years. Over 45 Nubian villages were washed away along the banks of the Nile south of Aswan.

They were resettled in and around the city of Aswan and in villages further north. There is no way to estimate the total number of temples and tombs which now lie at the bottom of Lake Nasser, nor is there any way of knowing the many secrets these structures currently hold. Because of the creation of the Aswan Dam, the world will never have an opportunity to study the full impact Africans from the southern Nile Valley had on the development of ancient Egypt and subsequent civilizations.

The Black Pharaohs (Egypt's Nubian Rulers), Robert G. Morkot, Rubicon Press, 2000;
The African Origin of Civilization (Myth or Reality), Cheikh Anta Diop, Lawrence Hill Books, 1974