Sudan has the most pyramids of any country in the world. Sudan has more ancient pyramids than Egypt, despite being smaller in stature and construction and built earlier. Upper Sudan has around 2000 Kushite pyramids compared to 200 Egyptian pyramids.
The Kushite pyramids depict bilateral trade, people movement, and knowledge movement, illustrating the relationship between African civilizations.
Kerma was Nubia’s first centralized state, complete with indigenous architecture and burial customs. The Napata and Mero kingdoms of Nubia were influenced by ancient Egypt. While influenced culturally, economically, politically, and militarily, they also competed with Egypt in these areas.
Nearly 200 ancient pyramids stand along the banks of the Nile River in eastern Sudan’s desert. For nearly 1000 years, they have housed the kings and queens who ruled the Meroitic Kingdom. Nubia is a region of the Nile Valley located in northern Sudan. The rulers of these ancient Kushite kingdoms, known as the “black pharaohs,” are said to have built the Nubian pyramids of Sudan of Mero. From around 760 B.C. to 650 B.C., the five Kushite pharaohs ruled Egypt from Nubia to the Mediterranean Sea.
The 35 pyramids discovered in Sudan, spread across five sites, continue to be a major draw for tourists. The industry was devastated by the effects of economic sanctions imposed throughout the country’s civil war and the Darfur conflict. Less than 15,000 tourists visit the country each year. This is only 10% of the number of tourists it has previously received.
Nubian pyramids were built between 2,700 and 2,300 years ago out of granite and sandstone. It incorporates decorative elements from Pharaonic Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
The first three sites are near the modern town of Karima in Lower Nubia, near Napata. Fourteen pyramids were built for their legendary warrior queens. Later, the Napatan pyramids were built at Nuri, where 21 kings, 52 queens, and princes, including Anlami and Aspelta, were buried. They were placed in massive granite sarcophagi, with some lids weighing four tons alone. The Napatan king and Twenty-fifth Dynasty pharaoh Taharqa’s pyramid is the oldest and largest at Nuri.
Mero, the most extensive Nubian pyramid site, is the final resting place of over forty queens and kings. Tomb walls depict mummified royals adorned in jewelry, their wooden caskets containing bows, quivers of arrows, horse harnesses, rings, pottery, glass, and metal artifacts indicating Meroitic trade with Egyptian and Greek civilisations.
Giuseppe Ferlini, an Italian soldier turned treasure hunter, raided and demolished over 40 Meroitic pyramids in the 1830s. When Ferlini returned home, he attempted to sell the treasure, but no one believed that such high-quality jewelry could be made in Africa. These priceless treasures are now housed in Munich’s State Museum of Egyptian Art and Berlin’s Egyptian Museum.