The more we dig into history the more the sheer truth of past human civilization is revealed. We know that Egyptian pyramids have always been in the limelight in African history, but there are many other majestic African treasures that have been hidden in mainstream media for a long time. And we can always learn new things from historical remnants about our past civilizations just like the Pyramids of Meroë located on the east bank of the Nile in Sudan.
Pyramids of Meroë – Kingdom of Kush
The sophisticated and slender pyramids of Meroë have no doubt baffled many history enthusiasts in the 18th and 19th centuries, whereby credit was given to Egyptian-born pharaohs. But not until the 20th-century, archaeologists gave the Kingdom of Kush its rightful place in history.
There are currently over 200 granite-clad pyramids in Sudan, and some of them were destroyed by the Italian explorer and treasure hunter Giuseppe Ferlini in the 1830s. The first pyramid was built in 751 B.C. in El Kurru which is home to many royal cemeteries.
Recently the pyramids of Meroë have garnered much attention as they were in a perilous position due to the flash flood which occurred in Sudan.
Who were the Kushites?
The ancient city of Meroë was a former capital of the Kushites who were people from Nubia (southern Egypt and northern Sudan). Ancient Greek historians would call them ‘Aithiopes/ Ethiopians’ primarily referred to those living in the Nubian region predominantly inhabited by dark-skinned people.
According to the ancient Greek historian Ephorus, the ‘Ethiopians’/Kushites were occupying most of the southern coasts of both Asia (including Sumer) and Africa. Author and anthropological writer John D. Baldwin in his book ‘Pre-Historic Nations’ states that, ‘people of the Cushite or Ethiopian race, sometimes called Hamites, were the first civilizers and builders throughout Western Asia, and they are traced, by the remains of their language, their architecture, and the influence of their civilization, on both shores of the Mediterranean, in eastern Africa and the Nile valley, in Hindustan, and in the islands of the Indian Seas.’
Clearly, the Kushites were among the most powerful civilizations and a perfect rival to Egypt. In the 8th century BC, the Kushite king Kashta invaded Egypt and later was succeeded by Piye who would establish the 25th dynasty of Egypt which lasted a century.
Meroë- The Epicenter of the Kush Kingdom
Between 2000 and 1500 BCE, the kingdom of Kush was thriving as a powerful civilization in northern Sudan. The Kushites were as sophisticated as the Egyptians. They had their own system of writing, ruling, and developing a complex and urban society whereby women’s participation was very much encouraged. They were equally known for their excellent mastery of archery which explains why their region was dubbed as ‘the land of the bow.’
Their economical and political epicenter was in Meroë bordered by the Nile River, where sits a sublime town with the majestic pyramids dominating the honey-colored landscape made up of sandstone plateau and desert. Meroë was the royal residence of the Kushites kings and queens. And archaeological excavations suggest that the place was also an industrial center of iron-working. With easy access to the Nile River, these people were able to trade with neighboring regions such as the Maghreb, Mediterranean basin, Arabia, and Egypt.
Later the city was re-conquered by Egyptian pharaohs, and eventually, with the high presence of the Roman Empire in Egypt, Kush became weaker, while the Meroitic period lasted until the 4th century CE.