Africa’s Forbidden Pyramids: Meroe, Nubia, and Sudan

Nubia_Pyramids of Meroe
Pyramids at Meroe (Wikipedia)

As I already told you about Nubia, and the Meroitic civilization which dominated Egypt for over 3 centuries, I also have to add that there are more pyramids in Nubia, modern-day Sudan, than in the whole of Egypt. Remember the great queen Amanishakheto and King Taharqa who ruled over Egypt.

Nubia_Sphinx of Taharqa
Sphinx of King Taharqa (Wikipedia)

Enjoy the video below, made by a BBC journalist to get acquainted with Sudan’s rich history and pyramids!

Amanishakheto, Warrior Queen of Nubia

Candace Amanishakheto on a mural
Candace Amanishakheto on a mural

Great women are often left out of history.  Rarely do we hear or read about African queens.  It is already hard enough to read about great African men and leaders in history books, but as for African women… it is more like impossible.  How many have heard of the great warrior queen of Nubia, Amanishakheto, who defeated a Roman army?  Who has heard of this great queen whose pyramid/tomb was leveled to the ground by an Italian treasure hunter, Giuseppe Ferlini, in 1832? Who has heard of this woman who led her people with a strong arm, and built pyramids in Meroë?  Who has heard of this great candace, whose daughter Amanitore, also queen of Nubia, is mentioned in the Bible (Acts 8:27) … yeah the Queen of Sheba is not the only African queen mentioned in the Bible!

Pyramid N6 of Amanishakheto in Meroe, before its destruction
Pyramid N6 of Amanishakheto in Meroe, before its destruction

Well, let me tell you about the great Candace (Kandake or queen) of Nubia (present day Sudan), Amanishaketo (also written Amanishaket, or Amanikasheto or Mniskhte in meroitic hieroglyphs) who reigned from around 10 BC to 1 ADCandace Amanishaket was an extremely wealthy and powerful queen.  She succeeded to Candace Amanirenas who was also a great warrior queen (and will be the subject of another post).  She built considerable pyramids and temples at Wad Ban Naqa, where she was buried with great treasures.  Her residence and several temples were based there.  Her palace is one of the largest treasures identified at Wad ban Naqa.  It was 61 m long, and covered an area of  3700 m2 with the ground floor made up of over 60 rooms.  The palace originally had a second floor as indicated by the remains of columns found on the ground floor, and may have contained an atrium or other structure.  Inside Amanishakheto’s grave, the Italian treasure hunter Ferlini discovered an amazing quantity of golden artifacts such as armlets, necklaces.  The treasure found (or what has been recovered) contained ten bracelets, nine shield rings, sixty seven signet rings, two armbands, and an extraordinary number of loose amulets and necklaces, especially made for queen Amanishakheto created by Nubian artists from her kingdom.  Some of her treasures (stolen by Ferlini) are now on display at the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, and at the Egyptian Museum of Munich.

Bracelet of Amanishakheto from the Egyptian Museum of Berlin
Bracelet of Amanishakheto from the Egyptian Museum of Berlin

Amanishakheto defeated a Roman Army sent by the first emperor of the Roman empire, Augustus, (who broke a peace treaty) to conquer Nubia.  She was a strong, and powerful woman, and a great pyramid builder.  Her tomb at Meroë was one of the largest ever built.  She is often depicted on pyramid murals as a massive, powerful woman, covered with jewels, elaborate fringed, tasseled robes, and carrying weapons in one hand, preparing to lead her army against others. Enjoy the video below on Amanishakheto, the great warrior queen of Nubia, and do not forget to check out The Treasures of Queen Amanishakheto.

The forgotten kingdom of Nubia

Pyramids of Nubia
Pyramids of Nubia

The general public is familiar with Egypt and the pharaohs, but is not so aware that there was a highly important, sophisticated, and independent ancient civilization in Nubia, which is south of Egypt in present-day Sudan.  For over a century, Nubian pharaohs dominated Egypt, and their kingdom extended from Lake Chad and well into the middle east.  The conquest of Egypt started with Pharaoh Piye of Nubia, and continued with Taharqa who launched the most audacious building campaign of any pharaoh since the New Kingdom (around 1500 B.C.).  Under Taharqa, the capitals were Napata and Thebes, and Jebel Barkal the holy mountain.

Black Pharaohs of Nubia
Black Pharaohs of Nubia

Nubia is a kingdom with 3 times as many pyramids as Egypt.  Their language still needs to be decoded, and archaeologists are searching for a Rosetta stone similar to that discovered by Champollion which allowed the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphs.  The Nubians were well known for their military genius, and Egyptian pharaohs will sometime hire Nubian mercenaries to fight their battles.  Theirs was a civilization of strong queens such as Amanishaket, and Amanitore.  One of these queens Candace Amanirenas defeated the roman army of Augustus Caesar.

Pyramids of Meroe
Pyramids of Meroe

To learn more, check out some of these great websites: http://www.thenubian.net/index.php, http://www.ancientsudan.org/index.html. National Geographic also had a series of articles on Nubia: Black Pharaohs, Rare Nubian King statues uncovered in Sudan. The site of Gebel Barkal was added to the UNESCO list of world treasures in 2003… check it out on the UNESCO World heritage website, and the Society of Nubian Cultures.

Please discover Nubia, and revel in African genius!

Don’t forget to watch Part 2-5 .