Pyramids Of Nubia - Alternative View
Pyramids Of Nubia - Alternative View
Video: Pyramids Of Nubia - Alternative View
Video: Nubs at Nubian Pyramids 2023, February
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The history of Nubia, the vast area in the Nile Valley that modern-day Sudan occupies today, is almost always a history of rivalry with its more ancient and powerful northern neighbor, Egypt. At different times on the territory of Nubia, there were three Kushite kingdoms: the oldest, Kerma, appeared in 2600 BC, existed until 1520 BC; the second was the kingdom of Napata (from 1000 to 300 BC) and the third, most famous, was Meroe (300 BC to 300 AD).

The desire of the Nubians by all means to be more powerful than Egypt led to the fact that the king of Kashta, the ruler of Napata, in 770 BC. conquered most of the territory of Egypt, but only his son, Pharaoh Pi, managed to truly rule the occupied lands.

This period in the history of Nubia and Egypt is known as the rule of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, which ended with the arrival of the Assyrians in 656 BC. It was then that the first Nubian pyramids were built on the site of el-Kurru, and King Kashta became the first ruler buried inside the pyramid in the last eight hundred years. From his tomb, the construction of 223 Nubian pyramids began, stretching over several centuries.

In addition to King Kasht and his son Pi, several of their successors and fourteen queens were buried in the pyramids of el-Kurru. In the capital of the kingdom of Napata, the city of Nuri, the ancient builders erected the largest pyramid - the tomb of Pharaoh Tahark. By Nubian standards, its dimensions were enormous: almost 52 sq. meters at the base and more than 40 meters in height. In total, 21 kings, 52 princes and queens found their last refuge in the pyramids of Nuri. Their bodies were placed in massive granite sarcophagi, some weighing more than fifteen tons.

However, the largest number of pyramids was concentrated in the territory of Central Sudan, in Meroe, which today is considered one of the largest archaeological sites. More than forty queens and kings rested here, and each royal tomb was covered with a separate pyramid.

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The historical region in the middle reaches of the Nile - from Aswan in the north to the Sudanese city of Dabba in the south - is commonly called Nubia. This name most likely comes from the ancient Egyptian word "nubu", which means "gold" The low rocky mountains adjacent to the Nile are indeed abounding in gold-bearing quartz, from which they learned to extract precious metal in ancient times.

For the ancient Egyptians, Nubia, with its narrow coastal valley, was a kind of "gateway to Africa." When the Egyptian state was in its prime, the pharaohs conquered Nubia; when Egypt weakened, the Nubians rebelled and regained independence. In the 8th-7th centuries BC, the Nubians themselves even formed the XXV dynasty of rulers of Egypt and ruled the country for half a century.

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Excavations in the Mussawarat al-Sufra valley have helped scientists to lift the veil of mystery over the history of the ancient state of Meroe - once vast and powerful. A lot of discoveries have been made here, in particular, the pyramids of the rulers of Kush have been excavated and investigated, however, robbed already in time immemorial; found complex underground passages that led to the tombs of the queens …

The English historian B. Davidson described this city, still little studied today: “In Meroe and the surrounding areas, there are ruins of palaces and temples, which are the product of a civilization that flourished more than 2000 years ago. And around the ruins, which still retain their former grandeur, lie the burial mounds of those who created these palaces and temples … Walls of red basalt, covered with mysterious letters; fragments of white alabaster bas-reliefs that once adorned magnificent fortresses and temples; shards of painted pottery, stones that have not yet lost their bright patterns - all these are traces of a great civilization. Here and there the abandoned granite statues of Amon-Ra stand sadly … and the desert wind carries over them clouds of brownish-yellow sand."

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The first centuries in the history of Kush were still associated with Egyptian rule: the royal house, aristocrats and priests largely adopted Egyptian customs and fashions, although, according to I. Mozheiko, these alien traditions hardly penetrated deeply into Kushite society. It was not only ethnically different from the Egyptian, but the occupations of its population were different: the Nubians were not connected with the river, like the Egyptians and the Nile, most of their territory was the savanna, on which they were engaged in cattle breeding.

By about 800 BC, the weak pharaohs of the XXII Egyptian dynasty were forced to grant independence to Kush. The capital of the state was the city of Napata, the center of the cult of the god Amun, whom the Kushites portrayed in the form of a ram. After a while, the Kushite kings themselves began to move northward, and they fought in the southern nomes of Egypt. King Pianhi began a series of campaigns of conquest, showing himself to be a skillful commander: he found weak spots in the enemy's defense, went to alliances with the hostile nomarchs, not forgetting to honor the Egyptian priests.

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Having defeated the Egyptian pharaoh, the Kushite king founded the XXV, "Ethiopian" dynasty. However, their dominion in Egypt was soon interrupted by the Assyrians, armed with iron spears and swords, against which the bronze and stone weapons of the Egyptians and Kushites were powerless. However, the Assyrians did not pursue them up the Nile, and thus the Kushites retained their independence.

For one and a half millennia, the yellow sands of the desert hid the ruins of the city of Meroe - the capital of the mysterious Nubian "kingdom of Meroe". The Greeks and Romans learned about this city in the 1st millennium BC, when Meroe became the capital of Nubia instead of Napata, located north of it. However, to the questions: “Why was the capital moved? When exactly did this happen and what is the previous history of the city itself? " - ancient historians do not give an answer. Only scraps of information about Meroe have brought us the works of Roman and Greek writers. It is known, for example, that the territory of the city of Meroe was called "the island of Meroe", which had the shape of a shield. On the maps it was depicted as a round piece of land, surrounded on all sides by the tributaries of the Nile.

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Embassies were sent from Meroe to Rome several times, but envoys and merchants reported to the Romans only fragmentary information about their distant homeland. It is also known that the emperor Nero in the 1st century sent his officers to Nubia, who managed to penetrate "beyond Meroe". The famous geographer and naturalist Pliny the Elder reproduced the data obtained by the scouts in his work "Natural History".

In it, in particular, he reports on the mysterious queens who ruled Nubia with the "hereditary name" of Kandaka; about a temple in the city dedicated to the Egyptian sun god Amun. Pliny notes with obvious surprise the small size of the city, and then follows a very remarkable phrase: “However, this island, when the Ethiopians achieved the state, enjoyed great fame; they say that he could exhibit 250,000 soldiers and gave shelter to four thousand artists"

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Back in 1822, in the place where, according to the descriptions, Meroe was supposed to be, scientists discovered the ruins of a large city. But it was difficult to say with full confidence that it was Meroe, since not a single ancient author indicated the exact boundaries of this kingdom. Only a century later, it was possible to establish that the Meroe mentioned by ancient authors was located on the right bank of the main channel of the Nile - on the territory that is bounded by the blue Nile from the southwest, and by the Atbara River from the northeast. True, this territory is not round (as was thought in ancient times), but square.

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In the early 1920s, archaeologists investigated only royal tombs and temples, and only in the middle of the 20th century, systematic and systematic excavations began on the territory of Meroe. For centuries, sand hid the history of the ancient kingdom, but he also preserved it for us.

In the spring of 1960, a German archaeological expedition was working in the hot sands of the Nubian Desert. When scientists, led by Professor F. Hintse, arrived in the Mussawarat al-Sufra valley, they saw that only the tops of the columns and scattered stone blocks were sticking out among the sea of ​​sand. However, already during the trial excavations, scientists discovered the ruins of temples, tombs and some other structures.

Then work began in the "Temple of the Lions", which was named so because of the statue of the sacred lion that was in it. Here archaeologists have found cartouches with the image of King Arnekamani, whom they consider to be the founder of the "Temple of Lions". A large number of inscriptions, drawings and relief images that adorned the stone blocks from which this ancient temple was built have also survived. It is not for nothing that the name of the valley is translated as “Place adorned with images”.

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"Temple of lions" in Meroe, dedicated to the lion-headed god of war and fertility Apedemak, according to F. Hintse, was destroyed by some sudden catastrophe, therefore, during its reconstruction, scientists had to fit one to another multi-ton boulders. When the work was completed, a magnificent rectangular structure appeared before them, almost completely covered with relief images and inscriptions. On one of the reliefs, the god Apedemac is depicted with a bow in his hand, he leads a prisoner on a rope.

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A special impression is made by the grandiose reliefs up to 15 meters long, depicting the king and the crown prince in front of the god Apedemak, as well as the statues of lions that once met everyone who entered the temple. In their artistic execution, these reliefs and statues are in no way inferior to the Egyptian or Babylonian-Assyrian, so that Pliny's words about "four thousand artists" were apparently not far from reality. Inside the "Temple of the Lions", a lot of sheet gold was found, which, according to scientists, covered the inner columns of the temple.

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30 kilometers from Meroe lie the majestic ruins of the palace of one of the rulers of Kush. German archaeologists also investigated the "khafir" - a round reservoir for collecting rainwater. This giant cistern, about 250 in diameter and up to 10 meters deep, could provide water for at least 300,000 people. "Khafir" was faced with stone and surrounded by a fortress wall. Scientists suggested that he was inside a fortified shelter, so that in the event of a long siege, such a precious supply of water could be preserved. Exploring the area around the "khafir", German archaeologists also found a water supply network - canals and stone underground pipes. The remains of an irrigation system show that cultivated fields lay around the palace, and green trees provided shade and coolness to the stone terraces.

Some scholars believe that Meroe became the capital of the Kushite kingdom back in the IV century BC However, I. Mozheiko suggested that this happened only at the turn of our era, based on the fact that by this time the tombs of the goddesses-queens were beginning to be erected in Meroe, not in Napata. He believes that perhaps one of the reasons for the transfer of the capital was the desert, which moved closer and closer to Napata.

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However, there are other versions on this score. For example, since the time of Pliny, it was believed that Egyptian religion dominated in Nubia during its heyday, and the priests of the god Amun enjoyed special influence. The oracles of this god in Napata were even called "the highest state authority", since the final solution of many state issues depended on them.

The inscriptions and reliefs of the "Temple of the Lions", built between 235 and 221 BC, showed that the heyday of Meroe was associated with the cult of the god Apedemac. In relation to him, all other gods, even the Egyptian ones, occupied a subordinate position. Thus, a very real social relationship was hidden behind the "rivalry" of the gods Amun and Apedemak. Therefore, scientists suggested that the movement of the Kushite capital from Napata to Meroe was associated with the struggle against the priests of the god Amun, and the exaltation of the cult of the national god Apedemak became a sign of this struggle.

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Evidence of a close relationship between ancient cultures - great Egypt and the Meroite kingdom - was found in northern Sudan. In the dry Nubian desert, archaeologists have unearthed 35 pyramids, built about two thousand years ago.

Since 2009, specialists from the French Section of the Directorate on Antiquities of Sudan have been studying the unusual necropolis of the ancient African civilization of Kush, Egypt's southern neighbor.

Less is known about the history of the country of Kush or the Meroite kingdom than about the homeland of the great pyramids, but historians have no doubt: Egypt had a tremendous influence on the culture of the Kushites.

The necropolis, discovered in a place called Sedeinga, is a group of small pyramid tombs located unusually close to each other. Archaeologists were surprised when, according to the results of 2011 excavations, 13 stone buildings were found on an area of ​​500 square meters.

"The density of the pyramids is due to the long existence of the cemetery: the construction process lasted hundreds of years and, when there was very little space left, burials began to be made in the voids between the structures," says anthropologist Vincent Francigny of the American Museum of Natural History.

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Curiously, the size of the tombs is not the same. So, the width of the base of the largest is 7 meters, and the smallest, supposedly intended for a child - only 75 centimeters.

A tablet was found on one of the graves. The inscription in the Meroite language on the tablet contains an appeal to Osiris and his wife and sister Isis on behalf of a certain woman named Aba-la with a request to give her water and bread.

In general, the influence of Egypt is also observed in the nature of the construction of tombs: they are a kind of synthesis of the Egyptian pyramids and the presumably local method of erecting mounds - tumulus.

Moreover, in one of the pyramids, the inner circular masonry is entirely made of bricks. Previously, only one such structure was found among the Kushites.

As for the external decorative finish of the pyramids, it has practically not survived. Experts say that the tombs were covered with facing stone, and the tops were decorated with images of a sun ball, birds and lotus flowers.

By the time archaeologists reached the pyramids, many of the burial chambers were plundered, leaving the only treasure to this day - human remains.

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