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WATCH: Incredible drone footage of Sudan’s mysterious Nubian pyramids
Behold, Africa’s OTHER great pyramids.

FIONA MACDONALD

Everyone’s heard of the great pyramids of Egypt, but thousands of kilometres further south along the Nile stands another impressive group of ancient structures, which have survived in the Sudanese desert for the past 3,000 years. And thanks to this new drone footage captured by National Geographic, we’re finally able to get some insight into the sheer scale of these incredible and little-studied pyramids.

Built by the ancient Nubian civilisation, there are around 255 of these beautiful pyramids in three known sites dotted across the Sudanese desert, but most tourists have never heard of them and, so far, very little research has been done into the structures. National Geographic filmed this video as part of a new documentary following one of the first archaeological investigations at the El-Kurrupyramid site in almost 100 years.

El-Kurri was one of the royal cemeteries built for the Nubian royal family during the time of the ancient Kingdom of Kush, and it contains structures that date back to 1070 BC. Just like the Egyptians, the Kushites entombed their royalty below lofty pyramids - presumably to help their souls reach up to the heavens - but structurally, the buildings are quite different. For starters, the Nubian pyramids are far steeper and narrower, and they’re built from stepped stones, as opposed to the smooth surfaces of the wider Egyptian pyramids. They’re also smaller, ranging from around six to 30 metres in height, compared with the 139 metre Great Pyramid at Giza.

The Nubian pyramids also came around 500 years after the Egyptians had stopped building pyramids of their own. But there’s still a lot to learn about the ancient structures - including exactly how and why they were built, and insight into the downfall of the Kushite kingdom around 300 AD. It’s hoped that observing the site from the air will help to provide some perspective.

“The best part with the helicopter is I can fly over and gain this connection between all the other burial sites, between the pyramid and the temple, and get an understanding of what that is from the air,” National Geographic Society engineer and drone pilot, Alan Turchik, explains in the video above.

Drones aren’t the only machines helping to reveal more information about the site - the archaeologist leading the expedition, Geoff Emberling, is also using a remote-controlled robot to excavate caves that are impossible for humans to access. A similar device has helped scientists to photograph never-before-seen secret chambers in Egypt’s Great Pyramid at Giza.

We’re looking forward to seeing what the team unearths on the ground, but in the meantime, we’ll enjoy watching these 3,000-year-old pyramids from the sky.

see the video at Science Alert

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Pieter Ten Hoopen: Portraits of Sudanese refugees (2015)

via agencevu: In a clinic settled in a refugee camp of the suburb of Khartoum, Pieter Ten Hoopen made the portraits of Sudanese, patients or staffs, far from the non-stop war.

Since the 1960’s, Sudan has never met peace. After South Sudan declared its independence in 2011, the situation has got worse, especially into the new State and in the Darfur. Around 35 millions people fled the violences. Among them 2.5 millions found shelter in camps in the fringes of Khartoum.

Mayo camp is one of these camps. 250,000 refugees are now living there, most of them coming from South Sudan or Darfur. The worrying conditions of living and the promiscuity are threats for the health and for the most fragile refugees.
Inside the camp, a clinic has been founded in 2005 by the Italian NGO “Emergency” that takes care of Mayo’s children. Physicians cure and examine around 50 children every day. Many Sudanese work there as office staff, physician or cleaner.

This is precisely that kind of human diversity that Pieter Ten Hoopen intended to catch. The photographer has opened an ephemeral studio. Patient, child waiting for some treatments, supervisor or staff,… The studio offers them a rest, and promotes an alternative way of looking the reality inside those refugee camps. White background, perfect light, serious and dignified faces. A moment of dignity for the victims, a moment of honour for those who protect them.

‘The Kuluš were led by women?’

The infamous Kuluš of Sudan, known to us as the Kushites of Nubia in fact were a matrilineal culture and even were led by women. After the dissolution of the 25th dynasty in Egypt, power centered back into the realm of Nubia, mainly around Napata and Meroe. The Kuluš were eventually led by women rulers named ‘Kandake’. These women were feared by anyone who came to Nubia, including the Greeks and Romans. The Greeks themselves actually faced a defeat at the hands of a Kandake before, her name was Pelekh. Pelekh is more of a legend than she is seen the be historical reality but it just may be possible considering that Alexander the Great was said to have had been defeated by her in battle, and the historically he never went further oasis at Siwa, and it was known the Kuluš had a large realm of power. From what we do know of historical figures, the most notable is Amanishakheto. She has the most elaborate trove of Kuluš Royal regalia ever found in any of the Meroe pyramid tombs.

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march 22 is world water day. globally, 783 million people lack access to clean water, and 3.6 million people — including 1.5 million children — die every year from entirely preventable water related illnesses. contaminated water is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. 

women and children (girls twice as likely as boys) bear primary responsibility for water collection in most of the world’s households. in impoverished african and asian communities, the walk to get water is 3.7 miles on average. this is time not spent earning income or attending school. an additional 443 million school days are lost each year due to water related illness in children. 

more than one billion people around the world live in slums like the ones seen above, where they usually pay five to ten times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city. consider that by 2030, the number of people living in slums is expected to double, and that by 2050, 4 billion people could face water stress or scarcity conditions. 

photos by: 1. paul jeffrey in a displacement camp in juba, south sudan; 2. khalid rayhan shawon in drought stricken gabura, bangladesh; 3. gmb akash from the mollar slum in dhaka, bangladesh; 4. kate holt in bokola village, malawi; 5 john minchillo in mumbai’s dhavari slum; 6. tatan syuflana in the slums of jakarta, indonesia; 7. matthieu paley of afghanistan’s kyrgyz nomads 8. kate holt in port au prince, haiti; 9.robert mcpherson in nairobi’s kibera slum; 10, chris steele perkins in bangladesh. 

Sudan's pyramids, nearly as grand as Egypt's, go unvisited

AL-BERGAWIYA, Sudan (AP) – The small, steep pyramids rising up from the desert hills of northern Sudan resemble those in neighboring Egypt, but unlike the famed pyramids of Giza, the Sudanese site is largely deserted.

The pyramids at Meroe, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, are rarely visited despite being a UNESCO World Heritage site like those in Egypt. Sanctions against the government of longtime President Omar al-Bashir over Sudan’s long-running internal conflicts limit its access to foreign aid and donations, while also hampering tourism.

The site, known as the Island of Meroe because an ancient, long-dried river ran around it, once served as the principle residence of the rulers of the Kush kingdom, known as the Black Pharaohs. Their pyramids, ranging from 6 meters (20 feet) to 30 meters (100 feet) tall, were built between 720 and 300 B.C. The entrances usually face east to greet the rising sun. Read more.

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TAHINI-DATE ‘CARAMEL’

I never was a massive fan of tahini as a child. Our Sudanese relatives on my dad’s side of the family would visit us with bags of tahnia (a cakey sweet tahini snack), dates and al jibna al mudafara (braided goat/sheep cheese). I loved the cheese, but the tahnia had a strange texture I couldn’t quite get my head around.

Several years later, I rediscovered tahini and have developed some sort of acquired taste for it. It mixes perfectly with date syrup to make a caramely topping for deserts (like my banana ice cream above). I also use a combination of the two to dip apples and sweeten my porridge.

The nutty sesame taste adds a unique flavour to complement the sweeteness of the dates. Definitely worth a try.