Nubian Pyramids: Forgotten Treasures of Sudan

Deep in the Saharan desert, huge stone pyramids rise, monuments to ancient kings. But they aren’t in Egypt—these pyramids are far to the South, in Sudan.

Less famous than their Egyptian neighbors, Sudan’s pyramids have been astonishingly preserved for thousands of years.

The word “pyramid” is synonymous with Egypt, but it is actually neighboring Sudan that is home to the world’s largest collection of these spectacular ancient structures.

Sudan’s pyramids were designed as tombs for the Nubian kings.

Nubian pyramids were built by the rulers of the ancient Kushite kingdoms. The area of the Nile valley known as Nubia, which lies within the north of present-day Sudan, was the site of three Kushite kingdoms during antiquity. The pyramids are built of granite and sandstone. Forty of the pyramids were partially demolished by an Italian treasure hunter, Giuseppe Ferlini, in the 1830s.

The pyramids here, which are almost 5,000 years old, are spread across three sites and are different from their more famous Egyptian counterparts on account of their smaller bases and steep sloping sides.

Located about 220km north of the capital Khartoum, the cultural gem of Meroe is now one of Sudan’s most significant Unesco world heritage sites.

But today the threat has been exacerbated by climate change, which has made the land more arid and sandstorms more frequent. Those ‘forgotten’ pyramids risk being buried by shifting sand dunes.

Despite being smaller than the famous Egyptian pyramids of Giza, Nubian pyramids are just as magnificent and culturally valuable.

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