Napatan Period (ca. 750-350 BC)

This period begins the Kushite era, when Nubia's pyramids were built for royal burials, a practice continuing into the subsequent Meroitic period........ Return to the virtual tour home page

It began with with the reign of Piye, who was ruler of a kingdom based in the upper Dongola reach near modern Merowe/Kareima. Piye led the Nubian conquest of Egypt, where he was recognized as pharaoh, conventionally considerd Dynasty 25 by Egyptologists. Piye was buried at the site of El Kurru in the first of the Kushite pyramids.

El Kurru was already an important elite/royal burial ground, with a squence of unique stone fraomed curvilinear anbd then square (perhaps pyramidal) tombs monuments with subternnanean burial chambers. Scholars are still divided on whether this cemetery represents the direct ancestors of Piye in a continous chain stretching back 100 or 250 years, or whether Piye came to reuse an older cemetery of a century of more earlier, perhaps in an act of legitimation. What is clear, however, is that Pite founded a tradition of royal burials in Pyramids which was to last for a thousands years, ending in the last royal burials at Meroe. Piye's immediate successors of the 25th dynasty and their queens where buried beneath pyramids at El Kurru, and these tombs had two subterranean burial chambers painted in scenes and texts borrowed from Egyptian funerary practices, such as the Book of the Dead, like the example from King Tanwetemani shown here (photographed 31 Dec. 2003).

Seen from above


View Larger Map

This site continued in use until the new burial site was chosen Taharqa at Nuri, although some of Taharqa's immediate successors returned to El Kurru.

The Necropolis at Nuri was founded by the megalomanic ruler Taharqa who consturcted the largest of all Nubian pyramids, visible in the photos of above (1 Jan. 2004) as the low wide structure in the back, as this pyramid collapsed beneath its own weight. Subsequent rows smalled pyramids were built for Kings and Queens of the later Napatan period. Below the Nuri  pyramids can be seen from above.


View Larger Map

The sacred focus of the Napatan kingdom was the large outcrop of Nubian ferricrete sandstone known as Gebeol Barkal, a focus of temples and palace structures, as well as a few later Meroitic pyramids.  At left is a view across an altar of King Taharqa along the length of Temple B-500 (photographed Dec. 2002).

Below Gebel Barkal can be seen with temples to South/East. B-500 is the largest temple.


View Larger Map

Below Gebel Barkal pyramids to the west of the Gebel.


View Larger Map

A major townsite was located east of Gebel Barkal towards the river, although this has never been excavated. Another important site was Sanam across the Nile to the Southwest where the modern town of Merowe is today. Parts of the this site were excavated by Griffith, including parts of a possible palace/treasury complex, and the foundations of a small temple. These are still visible in the midst of Merowe town today.


....The temple of Sanam, in the midst of modern Merowe, photographed in Dec. 2003.

and below is Sanam from a satellite.


View Larger Map

add here