The Mystery of the Miniature Pyramids of Sudan
The Egyptians built pyramids as tombs for hundreds of years, a trend which we still do not know where it came from and why the pyramid shape was so important for the Pharaohs. We know of course that inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu a tomb of Khufu was never discovered. The pyramid has no hieroglyphics whatsoever anywhere in the pyramid apart from a small little spot in an obscure place of the pyramid where in a very rough way the Khufu sign was drawn, making the use of the Pyramid as a tomb a questionable argument.
It was at the end of the 6 th century BC when the building of pyramids as tombs was abandoned which makes you wonder why – since until then it was considered very important. It was in the same period of time that Nubians (Nubia is now a region of Sudan) invaded Egypt and occupied it. They ruled Egypt for about 100 years before they were ejected. However, the influence of Egypt to the Nubians was something that probably followed them thereafter.
The pyramids discovered in Meroe in Sudan were medium size pyramids, 80 in number, similar but not identical to the Egyptian pyramids that were used as tombs for their wealthy Nubian royals and high profile people. Until now more than 220 royal pyramids have been discovered in Sudan. The Nubians followed the Egyptian pyramid shape (smaller in size) with a capstone on the top and used exclusively for royals and not for ordinary people. The capstones would be symbols of the sun such as solar discs with figures emerging from them. However, in total in Sudan more pyramids have been discovered than in Egypt, questioning the suggestion that the Nubians ‘stole’ the pyramid tradition from the Egyptians.
The interesting part of the story lies in a cemetery that was recently discovered in Sudan in the area of Sedeigna, 450 miles from Meroe. New archaeological excavations have found a dense field of mini pyramids packed closely together that range from 30 inches up to 32 feet where the smaller ones were built over the graves of children. Inscriptions that were discovered revealed that the cemetery once held thousands of burial chambers beneath the small pyramids making the cemetery even more intriguing.
Usually in cemeteries like this you would see about 20-30 pyramids, graves for the elite. But here things are different, as Vincent Francigny a research associate of the American Museum of Natural History said. Even though the era that the cemetery at Sedeigna was built is when the monopoly of the pyramids only for the royals began to fade, it still doesn’t explain, according to Francigny, this number of monuments and their role. It could probably show that pyramid shaped monuments in different sizes were available to everyone, maybe showing that equality among people existed?
Some of the monuments that were excavated have a strange round stone structure inside that couldn’t be explained since it didn’t give any support to the pyramid structure. What Francigny believes is that the round structure was probably an older burial tradition which later on was affected by the new Egyptian influence. Sedeinga was the city that connected the Nubian kingdom of Meroe to Egypt and the first place the traders would stop on their way from Egypt to Nubia, something that could probably explain the wealth of the Sedeinga shown in the number of the monuments found at this cemetery.
If we adhere to the idea that Nubians ‘stole’ the pyramids tradition from the Egyptians, It is interesting to see how a different civilization would copy a tradition from another once it is considered important, and for the royals to do so it must have been important, and yet the Egyptians abandoned the building of the Pyramids at some point as if it suddenly lost its importance. We know that many theories exist as to who really built the pyramids with popular suggestions that they go back to 10,000 BC and that they weren’t built by the Egyptians, but they were found by the Egyptians who then used them like tombs. And therefore the initial real meaning of the Pyramids was lost in time and gradually the tradition was abandoned, a pattern that we see in our civilization repeat again and again.
But again I would question the ‘copy’ idea of archaeologists. Because if that was true, then the Nubians wouldn’t copy the pyramids once the Egyptians had abandoned the tradition. Even if the discoveries so far may justify it, we know that many times especially with time we have calculated the wrong age with a difference of thousands (and sometimes even millions) of years. After all, the Nubian Kings were considered ‘demigods’ (at least the first ones), they had Amun as their main God and father and it is mentioned that priests could speak to Amun inside the temples. Does this sound familiar to you?
By John Black
Miniature Pyramids of Sudan by Eric A. Powell, Archaeology Magazine, pp. 30-34