In Gematon, an ancient town in Sudan, sixteen pyramids have been discovered inside a cemetery dating back two thousand years. The largest pyramid was around thirty-five feet long and forty-three feet tall, dating back to the period when the Kush Kingdom flourished Sudan. Kushites were known for pyramid building from 800 B.C. until their kingdom collapsed in the fourth century AD due to a decline in trading and loss of revenue. A number of trade routes that had kept the Kushite rulers wealthy bypassed the Nile Valley, and Roman Empire collapsed, denying the Kushites of their ability to trade. As a result, Kushites ceased building pyramids, Gematon was abandoned and wind-blown sands covered both the town and its nearby pyramids.
British Museum Curator Derek Welsby and his team discovered the sixteen pyramids and have been excavating at Gematon since 1998.
“So far, we’ve excavated six made out of stone and ten made out of mud brick,” said Welsby.
The pyramids are located in a large cemetery that was surveyed in 1993. “Wealthy and powerful individuals built some of the pyramids, while people of more modest means built the others,” said Welsby. “They’re not just the upper-elite burials.”
Besides pyramids, archaeologists found mastaba, which are rectangular structures, and piles of rocks called tumuli on top of tombs. Some tombs have no surviving burial markers at all.
Inside one tomb, archaeologists discovered an offering table made of tin bronze with a carving showing a prince or priest offering incense to ancient god Osiris, the ruler of the underworld, and goddess Isis.
“The offering table is a royal object,” said Welsby. The person buried with this table “must have been someone very senior in the royal family.”
To some degree, most of the tombs had been robbed. The only tomb with a pyramid that survived intact held 100 faience beads and the remains of three infants.
“The fact that the infants were buried without gold treasures may have dissuaded thieves from robbing the tomb,” said Welsby.
This story was originally written by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor. For more information on this story, visit www.livescience.com/52186-16-pyramids-discovered-ancient-cemetery.html
Photo by D. A. Welsby; Copyright SARS NDRS Archive.