This desert land was once home to a great empire that built giant temples in honor of strange, animal-headed gods and memorialized their rulers with pyramids. It had one of the most advanced civilizations of its time and was known throughout the ancient world.
Egypt? No, Sudan.
The Kingdom of Kush in what is now Sudan built great cities and traded the products of its large and expert iron industry as far away as India and China. It lasted from about 1000 BC to 350 AD before finally being conquered by the Empire of Axum in Ethiopia. For almost a hundred years from 747-656 BC, the Kushites ruled Egypt as the twenty-fifth dynasty.
A new exhibit at the Louvre in Paris is the first to focus on Meroë, the capital of Kush in its later period and home to more than two hundred pyramids, some of which are shown in this photo. Meroe: Empire on the Nile showcases works of Meroitic art that help us understand the daily life, religion, and social structure of this often-overlooked empire.
Meroe: Empire on the Nile runs until September 6, 2010. Many of the objects are loans from the Museum of Khartoum, so if you can’t make it to Paris before September, you can always go to Sudan and the see the objects, and the pyramids, for yourself. Last year The Wall Street Journal listed the country as one of the top five destinations for the super adventurous.
Image courtesy Sven-steffenarndt via Wikimedia Commons