In a desert in eastern Sudan, along the banks of the Nile River, lies a collection of nearly 200 ancient pyramids—many of them tombs of the kings and queens of the Meroitic Kingdom which ruled the area for more than 900 years. The Meroë pyramids, smaller than their Egyptian cousins, are considered Nubian pyramids, with narrow bases and steep angles on the sides, built between 2,700 and 2,300 years ago, with decorative elements from the cultures of Pharaonic Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
Italian-Russian archaeologists make major discovery in Sudan
(AGI) Rome, Jan 11 - A team of Italian and Russian archaeologists has made what the Sudan Antiquities Service is calling the most important discovery in the last decade. A basalt ritual altar, a base for a sacred boat, and a hieroglyphic inscription were uncovered at Abu Erteila, around 200km north of Khartoum, shedding new light on the Nubian civilization that existed between the 1st century BC and 1st century AD. The finding, AGI learned, is the fruit of the eighth round of excavations conducted from November to December 2015 by the international team led by Eugenio Fantusati, his deputy Marco Baldi, and by Eleonora Kormysheva. The mission was also officially recognized by the Italian foreign ministry.
“We’re still studying the text of the hieroglyphic inscriptions in Egyptian, but we’ve already identified the cartouches with the names of the royal couple they mention,” Professor Fantusati stated. “They are King Natakamani and Queen Amanitore, who ruled during the Golden Age of the Meroitic civilization that developed on the Nile. It played an important role on the international stage: consider the fact that it had commercial and diplomatic ties with the Roman Empire, up to its decline owed to the rise of the Ethiopian Kingdom of Axum.” Read more.
Archaeologists have discovered a ritual altar, a sacred boat base, and a hieroglyphic inscription at the site of Abu Erteila in Sudan. They were recovered by a team of Russian and Italian archaeologists.
The artifacts were found in the remains of a temple that was probably destroyed by fire and are thought to date to between the first century BCE. and the first century CE, the “Golden Age” of Meroitic Nubian civilization. The cartouches of the King Natakamani (20 BCE-1 CE) and his co-regent and successor, Queen Amanitore (1 BCE-50 CE?), have been identified from the hieroglyphic inscriptions. The most important artifact found at the site is perhaps the sacred boat base, which would at times have been used to carry the representation of a Nubian deity on ritual processions.
civilization was a dynasty of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush which ruled from 270 BCE to 400 CE. Much about the
era of Kush is still largely unknown except for the fact that the kingdom had extensive contact with Egypt and the Hellenistic world. The
Kingdom was absorbed by the Kingdom of Axum in the fifth century CE. The Sudan Antiquities Service is calling the artifacts “the most important discovery in the last decade,” and are hoping that the artifacts will help gain a better understanding of the
The so-called ‘Meroitic period’ was the last major phase of the history of the kingdom of Kush in Nubia. The term is used to cover the approximate period 300 BC-AD 350. The earlier date roughly marks the date when the kings began to be buried at Meroe, which had already been functioning as a capital city for some time. The highpoint of this phase was in the first century BC and first century AD, and pottery was one of its most outstanding products. There is definite variation in products from various parts of the kingdom, suggesting the existence of local ceramic centres, particularly in the north (Faras and Karanog). However, the range of types and decoration has made the creation of an internal chronology rather difficult. Two examples are given here to illustrate two of the principal types: those with mostly figured decoration in red and black on white, and a decorative style mostly in black on an orangeish ground, with floral and some figured decoration.
Note : I have reworked the color and lighting of this image now that I know more about it. Revisiting this painting has been very instructive and has allowed me to bring it closer to my initial vision. I really like this version better :D
Round-topped stelae are a regular feature in later Kushite cemeteries. They were set up in the small chapels built against the eastern walls of the pyramids or the mastabas that covered the graves. On this example, beneath a winged disc flanked by two Uraei is carved a cursive inscription in Meroitic.
The Meroitic language has not yet been deciphered, however it can be determined that funerary inscriptions which include an invocation to Isis and Osiris, the name and parentage of the deceased and formulae of benediction, are repetitive and may be confidently translated. The stela belongs to Waleye, son or daughter of Kadite and ‘the chief’ (?), niece or nephew of the Athmo Warebali, of the Asidi Shatameterura and of the Asidi Shategala. The title Athmo apparently indicates an important function, while the title Asidi indicates a local function. Such details make funerary inscriptions a precious source of information on the society of that period.
- Meroitic Kingdom of Kush - 50BCE to 10BCE - Soyou as Amanirenas -
Amanirenas was a queen of the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush. Her full name and title was Amnirense qore li kdwe li (“Ameniras, Qore and Kandake”).She reigned from about 40 BCE to 10 BCE. She is one of the most famous kandakes, because of her role leading Kushite armies against the Romans from in a war that lasted five years, from 27 BCE to 22 BCE. After an initial victory when the Kushites attacked Roman Egypt, they were driven out of Egypt by Gaius Petronius and the Romans established a new frontier at Hiere Sycaminos (Maharraqa). Amanirenas was described as brave, and blind in one eye.
Meroitic inscriptions give Amanirenas the title of qore as well as kandake suggesting that she was a ruling queen. She is usually considered to be the queen referred to as “Candace” in Strabo’s account of the Meroitic war against the Roman Empire. Her name is associated with those of Teriteqas and Akinidad. The scheme first proposed by Hintze suggests that King Teriteqas died shortly after the beginning of the war. She was succeeded by Akinidad (possibly the son of Teriteqas) who continued the campaign with his mother Amanirenas. Akinidad died at Dakka c.24BC.
Nubian gold earring depicting the goddess Hathor, dating to the Meroitic period, or 90 BCE-50BCE. The gold rosette that connects the pendant of Hathor to the hook is decorated with enamel. From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.