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Image:Meroe pyramids 01 x600.JPG
Aerial view of the pyramids at Meroë.

Meroë is the name of an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile 16.56° N 33.44° E about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, ca. 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah. This city was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries. The Kushitic Kingdom of Meroe gave its name to the "Island of Meroë", which was the modern region of Butana, a region bounded by the Nile (from the Atbarah River to Khartoum), the Atbarah, Ethiopia, and the Blue Nile. The city of Meroe was on the edge of Butana and there were two other Meroitic cities in Butana, Musawwarat es-Sufra and Naqa. [1]

The site of the city of Meroë is marked by over two hundred pyramids in three groups, of which many are in ruins, and is part of a group of archeological sites that was included by UNESCO, in 2003, in the list of the World Heritage.


[edit] History of Meroë

Meroë was the southern capital of the Kushite Kingdom or Napata / Meroitic Kingdom that spanned the period c.800 BC - c. AD 350. Excavations revealed evidence of important, high ranking Kushite burials, from the Napata Period (c.800 BC - c. 280 BC) in the vicinity of the settlement (Western cemetery)

The town's importance gradually increased from the beginning of the Meroitic Period, especially from the reign of Arrakkamani (c. 280 BC) when the royal burial ground was transferred to Meroë from Napata (Jebel Barkal).

The last period the Meroite city is marked by the victory stele of an unnamed king of Aksum (almost certainly Ezana) erected at the site of Meroë; from his description, in Greek, that he was "King of the Axumites and the Omerites," (i.e. of Aksum and Himyar) it is likely this king ruled sometime around 330. Two more inscriptions in Ge'ez script have been found on nearby pyramids; it is uncertain whether they are contemporary with the royal stele, or belong to a later date; Ge'ez inscriptions have been found as far north as Kawa, 100 km upstream of the third cataract.

Rome's capture of Egypt led to border clashes and expansion by both Meroe and Rome.<ref>In 23 BC the Roman governor of Egypt, Petronius, invaded Nubia in response to a Nubian attack on southern Egypt, pillaging the north of the region and sacking Napata (22 BC) before returning north.</ref> Meroe usually came off the better, even looting a head from a statue of the emperor Augustus and burying it under their temple steps [2], and so it settled down to a healthy trading relationship with Rome and the Mediterranean.

[edit] Archaeology of Meroë

Image:Meroe pyramid field north.png
Plan of the North pyramid field at Meroë.

Modern archaeology in Sudan has been impossible because of the on-going civil war. In the 19th century, after the ruins at Meroë had been described by several European travellers, some treasure-hunting excavations were executed on a small scale in 1834 by Giuseppe Ferlini, who discovered (or professed to discover) various antiquities, chiefly in the form of jewelry, now in the museums of Berlin and Munich.

The ruins were examined more carefully in 1844 by Karl Richard Lepsius, who brought many plans, sketches and copies, besides actual antiquities, to Berlin. Further excavations were carried on by E. A. Wallis Budge in the years 1902 and 1905, the results of which are recorded in his work, The Egyptian Sudan: its History and Monuments (London, 1907). Troops were furnished by Sir Reginald Wingate, governor of the Sudan, who made paths to and between the pyramids, and sank shafts, etc.

It was found that the pyramids were regularly built over sepulchral chambers, containing the remains of bodies either burned or buried without being mummified. The most interesting objects found were the reliefs on the chapel walls, already described by Lepsius, and containing the names with representations of queens and some kings, with some chapters of the Book of the Dead; some stelae with inscriptions in the Meroitic language, and some vessels of metal and earthenware. The best of the reliefs were taken down stone by stone in 1905, and set up partly in the British Museum and partly in the museum at Khartoum.

In 1910, in consequence of a report by Archibald Sayce, excavations were commenced in the mounds of the town and the necropolis by J. Garstang on behalf of the University of Liverpool, and the ruins of a palace and several temples were discovered, built by the Meroite kings.

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[edit] References

[edit] External links

br:Meroe ca:Meroe de:Meroe es:Meroe fr:Méroé it:Meroë he:מרואה no:Meroë pl:Meroe pt:Meroe sv:Meroë tr:Meroe


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