|Nuri pyramids. ( John Partridge )|
Pyramids were used by ancient peoples as both places of worship and as monuments and tombs of the dead. It’s estimated that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 pyramids still standing in the world today, they can be found on every continent on earth except for icy Antarctica. The most famous of course are the Great Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt. The largest stands at 455 feet.The ancient Egyptians built these amazing structures as tombs and monuments for their pharaohs.
|A shabti found in the submerged chamber of a Kushite pyramid. ( Pearce Paul Creasman, Nuri Pyramids Expedition )|
The country that holds the title for the most pyramids still intact is surprisingly not Egypt but its neighbor to the south on the African continent Sudan. Sudan is home to some two hundred and forty pyramids built by the ancient cushite people. Sudan and the cushites also happen to be at the center of our archaeological story. The kingdom of cush also referred to as Nubia was located in northeast Africa just south of ancient Egypt in modern-day Sudan and it had close ties to ancient Egypt. Its main cities were situated along the Nile River and two of its main tributaries the White Nile and the Blue Nile. If not for the formation of these waterways and their proximity to gold and iron ore deposits it’s likely humans would not have settled in this dry desert region. The kingdom of cush lasted for over 1,400 years. First established circa 1070 BCE when it gained its independence from Egypt. In 727 BCE cush took control of ancient egypt, ruling it until the Assyrians arrived in the next century.
Once the Roman Empire conquered Egypt, the kingdom of cush began to weaken and eventually collapsed sometime in the 4th century CE.The cushite were very similar to the ancient Egyptians in many ways, sharing a religion, a form of government and many aspects of culture.They worshiped Egyptian gods and mummified their dead and entombed them in pyramids. Aside from the Pharaoh and other rulers the highest class in cush were the religious leaders the priests. Much like their Egyptian neighbors religion and a strong belief in the afterlife played an important role in the life of the cushite people. The pyramids that the cushite people built to entomb their pharaohs and other important figures looked very similar to the ancient Egyptian structures. They did have a few key differences though for one they differed in size with the average cushai pyramid standing roughly 6 to 30 meters or 20 to 98 feet high while the average Egyptian pyramid was much taller at roughly 138 meters or 453 feet. There was also one other major difference while the Egyptians burial chambers were located inside the pyramidal structure itself the cush burial chambers were located underneath the pyramids buried below the structure. One such leader buried in this matter was the Pharaoh Nastasen. He ruled the kingdom of cush from 335 to 310 BCE. The little that we do know about this Nubian King is from writings on stone tablets and a mere few artifacts. The writings tell us that the highlight of his reign came when the Pharaoh Nastasen defeated an invasion from Upper Egypt and gained many spoils in his victory.
once Nastasen crossed into the afterlife he became the last cushites King to be buried in the royal cemetery and necropolis at nepata. A glorious graveyard spanning more than seven and a half million square feet .The site of the royal cemetery the ancient city of nepata is now karima, sudan, located about one mile west of the nile river bank. Seen from the sky one of its most commanding features is an arc of some twenty pyramids built between 650 BCE and 300 BCE. National Geographics Kristin Romy describes this arc of pyramids as quote “strung together like gems on a delicate necklace”. There are more than twenty pyramids at the site overall though. At least 60 nubian kings and queens are buried there among hundreds of other individuals. The most famous resident is Pharaoh taharqa who ruled all of Egypt during the seventh century BCE. The Pharaoh Nastasen’s twenty-three hundred year old pyramid tomb the last of its kind stands at roughly thirty feet or 9.1 meters and was erected at one of the lowest points of elevation at the Royal necropolis. This is one of the reasons why Nastasen’s burial chambers is completely underwater. Why exactly? the pyramids proximity to the Nile River combined with both natural and man-made climate change has caused the groundwater levels to rise over the centuries. Submerging the tombs that are cut into the bedrock underneath the pyramids. Due to its low elevation nastasen’s tomb is among the most submerged.
|Gold leaf found in the tomb. ( Pearce Paul Creasman, Nuri Pyramids Expedition )|
Enter archaeologists Pearce Paul creaseman. Creaseman holds the dual title of both Egyptologist and underwater archaeologist yes indeed that is a thing, when Creasman first visited the royal cemetery back in 2018 he saw his unique skill set as an opportunity to explore the watery tombs and discover more than what was ever uncovered when the site was first explored nearly a century ago. Back then the water was only knee-deep now the water reached the ceiling of the tomb chambers. After Creaseman and his team spent the better part of a year digging the staircases leading to nestasen’s tomb out from under sand they put on their scuba gear and headed into the murky waters. Creaseman had to make his way through a series of three chambers. While navigating in water thick with muddy sediment and making vision close to impossible. When they reached the third and final chamber they discovered a treasure trove of artifacts including gold foil, shabti dolls, funerary figures whom the ancient Nubians believed would accompany the deceased into the afterlife. Also in the chamber the sarcophagus of the pharaoh Nastasen himself. The only problem that ceiling-high muddy water makes excavation and study of these artifacts highly problematic. Creaseman is optimistic though and now packed with experiences and knowing what to expect. Their aim is to return to the site later in 2020 an attempt to excavate the burial chamber in what they themselves argue is an audacious and logistical challenge. Only then will we know the extent and value of the treasures inside this pyramid and perhaps eventually the dozens of others.Says Christman ” I think we finally have the technology to be able to tell the story of nuri, to fill in the blanks of what happened here. it’s a remarkable point in
Hope you like the article “Submerged Treasure Found Beneath 2,300-Year-Old Cushite Pyramid“.Thank you and have a nice day.