Description of Pyramids of Meroe Archaeological Site
Pyramids of Meroe are located outside of the city
and 200 km north-east of Khartoum in Sudan. This archaeological site of Pyramids of Meroe consists of three
royal cemeteries that were used to bury royalty as well as their
family and servants. Close proximity to the ancient Egypt
certainly influenced the shape of the burial structures of Meroe. However
they are smaller with steeper walls. Pyramids of Meroe are on the UNESCO
World Heritage List.
The first settlements on the site of Meroe began
to appear, apparently, back in the VIII century. BC e. After the
conquest of Egypt by Assyria in 671 BC. e. on the territory of the
historical region of Kush, a kingdom was formed with a center in the
city of Napata.
In the second half of the VI century. BC e.
the capital of the state was moved to Meroe (hence the Meroite
kingdom). After relocating the capital, Napata retained the
significance of a religious center. Here were the royal tombs - the
pyramids, the coronation of the kings was carried out, the election
of which was approved by the priests.
About the middle of the
3rd century BC e. King Meroe Ergamen (Irk-Amon) put an end to the
political influence of Napat priests, who before that had the
opportunity to depose disagreeable kings and to nominate their
successors. There is evidence that the king of Hellenistic Egypt,
Ptolemy IV and King Ergamen maintained constant diplomatic
relations. Since that time, the king’s power is believed to become
hereditary, Meroe also turns into a religious and cultural center.
During the period of Persian rule in Egypt, the Meroite kingdom
lost a number of its northern territories. In the II – I centuries.
BC e. in connection with the decline of the political power of the
Ptolemaic power and the aggravation of the social struggle within
Egypt, the Meroite kingdom began to intervene in Egyptian affairs,
supporting popular movements in southern Egypt. When the Romans in
30 BC. e. they conquered Egypt and the people of Thebes tried to
rebuff them, raising uprisings, Ethiopian troops led by Kandaks
invaded Egypt, but were driven back, and the Egyptians pacified. In
23 BC e. Roman troops led by the prefect Guy Petronius captured
Napata, annexed northern Ethiopia to the Roman province of Egypt.
From the 3rd century n e. the kingdom began to decline. The
states of Alva, Mukurra, Nobatia were formed on the territory of the
The first of the Europeans of the Meroe pyramid
reached Linan de Belfon in 1821. In the same year, they were first
investigated by the French scientist and traveler Frederic Cayo. In
1834, an Italian adventurer Giuseppe Ferlini undertook an expedition
here. In search of treasures, Ferlini destroyed about 40 pyramids, 5
of them were destroyed to the ground. Ferlini is believed to have
used explosives to achieve his goal.
Excavations of Meroe by
archaeologists began in 1902. In the years 1909-1914, they were led
by the English archaeologist John Garstang (however, their results
were never published), in 1920-1923 the royal scientist George
Reisner studied the tsar necropolises. Of great importance were the
excavations of Meroe by the English archaeologist Peter Shinny.
Since January 2009, a Russian-Italian archaeological expedition
has been working at the archaeological site of Abu Erteil of the
Meroit civilization of the 1st – 3rd centuries, 9 km south of Meroe.
In 2011, Meroe with the nearby archaeological zones of
Musavvarat es Sufra and Naga was declared a UNESCO World Heritage
Site by UNESCO.