From 2600 BC until approximately 300 AD, this area known as ancient Nubia was ruled by the Kushites, who were both enemies and friends of the Egyptians (at different times) and followed many of their rituals, such as burying their kings and queens in pyramid tombs. There are more than 250 pyramids along the Nile in Sudan, far outnumbering their Egyptian cousins.The remains of an ancient capital Along the road going north out of Khartoum, our first major stop were the pyramids at Meroe, the capital of the Kushite kingdom from 300 BC (previous capitals included Kerma and Napata). Standing alone in the Sudanese desert for more than 2,000 years, they were built after the Egyptian pyramids and served as tombs for Meroe’s kings and queens. They sit close to the Nile, an important source of water and a trade route to Egypt, linking many of the ancient ruins found in present day Sudan. Unlike Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza, most of Meroe‘s pyramids are slightly smaller, with steeper sides, narrower bases and adjoining offering temples. They lie in varying states of disrepair due to the plundering of treasure hunters in the 1800s: some stand tall in perfect condition, others are unrecognizable piles of rubble. Their distinctively darker colour is due to the higher iron content in the rocks. In 2003, more than 40 large granite statues of pharaohs, thought to have been rulers of the Kushite empire, were found scattered through the desert near Kerma. Most of these statues were collected and put into museums but some have remained in the desert.
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