2,000-year-old pyramids have been found in an ancient cemetery, revealing the burial practices of a long-vanished kingdom in Sudan. Discovered near the ancient town of Gematon in Sudan, the 16 pyramids have burial tombs beneath them, and were built during the reign of pharaohs in the kingdom of Kush.
Related Article: The Giza Pyramids – Unravelling the Mystery
The Kushites built pyramids much like their neighbors to the north, the Egyptians, but not on the same scale. The ruins of the largest of the pyramids found at Gematon (modern Kawa, Sudan) is about 35 feet (10.6 meters) long on each side, and was calculated to have risen approximately 43 feet (13 meters) high, according to LiveScience.
Kushite pyramids are generally steeper and more pointed than the Egyptian pyramids (Wikimedia Commons)
Derek Welsby, curator at the British Museum in London and his team have been excavating at the archaeological site in Sudan since 1998. He says of the recent pyramid work, “So far, we’ve excavated six made out of stone and 10 made out of mud brick.”
- Nubia and the Powerful Kingdom of Kush
- Tomb of Huy, ruler of Nubia under Tutankhamun, to be opened to the public
- ‘Gold and the Gods’ opens window to rulers of ancient Nubia
Not all burials at the site are marked by pyramids. Other types of burials in the ancient cemetery include piles of rocks or mounds called “tumuli”, and rectangular surface structures called “mastaba”. Many tombs do not have burial markers of any kind. The mix of types of burial reveal the cemetery wasn’t reserved for the upper-elites only, and individuals of various stations were entombed at the same site.
Related Article: 35 Ancient Pyramids Discovered in Sudan Necropolis
Example of a mastaba in Egypt. (Jon Bodsworth/CreativeCommons)
The burial tombs beneath the pyramids have largely been plundered by looters over the years, however some artifacts have been recovered by researchers.
A tin and bronze offering table was found in one tomb. The carved surface depicts offerings being made to Osiris, ruler of the underworld by a priest or royalty. Isis, sister and wife to Osiris “is shown pouring libations” behind the other deity, notes LiveScience.
Welsby explains the offering table indicates a very senior member of a royal family was buried there, as it is a “royal object.”
Only one of the 16 pyramid tombs were spared robbers, and it held the remains of three infants and 100 ceramic faience beads. The researchers speculate robbers may have known the grave did not contain gold artifacts and thus left it alone.