Biblical Archaeology Review 45:3, May/June 2019

Strata: Where Is It?

Where Is It?

A. Egypt

B. Ethiopia

C. India

D. Sudan

E. Libya

Answer: (D) Sudan

The ancient city of Meroe, which was once the capital of the kingdom of Kush, is one of the most captivating pyramid sites. Located in modern Sudan, Meroe lies along the Nile River, 150 miles north of Khartoum. Its location in the Nile corridor linking central Africa with Egypt made Meroe’s rulers into overlords of the lucrative Nile trade. Meroe’s thriving civilization owed its wealth to the trade in iron, ivory, and gold, and it is also known for exporting elephants. Flourishing from 600 B.C.E. to 330 C.E., Meroe was run by Nubian kings.

Meroe upheld Egyptian customs from its start and eventually established an entirely new culture of its own, which is what we see today in the remains of this spectacular site with more than 200 extant pyramids, dating from c. 250 B.C.E. to 330 C.E. The break from Egyptian customs that took place c. 280 B.C.E. included the development of an indigenous script the Meroians used to write their own language known as Meroitic, which has yet to be deciphered.

Like Egyptian pharaohs, the kings and queens of Nubia were buried with jewelry and personal belongings that were believed to follow them into the afterlife. Pyramids were then erected to enclose and protect these gravesites. The Meroe pyramids are smaller and steeper than most pyramids in Egypt.

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