In an attempt to draw tourist the Gov't build some pyramids at the site out of cement to show folks what the pyramids looked like when they were first built...except these are smaller versions of the real thing.
Hint to tourism officals in Meroe..talk to your buddies in Khartoum and make it easier for tourists to get into the country in the first place and you whould not have to waste money on things like this.
For every place of beauty on earth there has to be some retard around to mess it up. In this case the retards were early Indiana Jones's looking for treasure. They took the roofs off several pyraminds and did not find much..go figure - should have done their homework first but the ^^%$&^"s probably could not read?
There are still quite a few of the original carvings to be seen in the funerary chapels and on the pylon walls, although sand is filling some of the chapels.
Although much of the symbolism is taken from the Ancient Egyptian religion, there is a strong Meroitic influence, especially in the garments and appearance of the kings and queens, the latter especially being obese.
The tradition of taking, smiting or killing prisoners is to reinforce the might of the ruler. Funerary rites and customs are shown too.
The Northern Cemetery is the most interesting of all the sites at Begrawiya. Of the 57 known pyramids , only half can be seen. The oldest are built at the highest level of the outcrop and then later ones were built further and further down, and out of red brick rather than sandstone.
Pyramid N 1 is a stepped pyramid, the only one.There is no chapel because of the step drop of the ridge. It belongs to Queen Amanitare..
Pyramid N 5 belongs to her son Arikankharer
Pyramid N 6 was destroyed by Ferlini in his search for treasure. The pylons still remain and show Queen Amanishakhete. She is portrayed as the complete antithesis of Egyptian women. She is enormously fat.
Pyramid N 7 belongs to King Arqamani of the 3rd C BC. There is a chapel.
Pyramid N 11 is 2nd century, Queen Shanakdakhete, it is unusual as it has a chapel with two courts. She can be seen sitting on a lion throne in royal regalia holding a cord with prisoners, on the pylon of the chapel..
Pyramid N 12 belonged to an unknown king. His chapel is well preserved. A dog sits under the throne
Pyramids N 16 of Amanitarqide -19 are on the eastern slope of the main northern ridge. They are built of stone and are about 7m high
Pyramid N 18 was truncated with a small flat area on which objects could be placed. It is associated with Queen Amanikhatashan.
Pyramid N 19 : King Terekeniwal, 3rd C AD. It was the last of the real stone pyramids, with a single layer of casing round a core of rubble and debris. It has been rebuilt in the traditional way by using a shaduf. Part of it has been cemented over.
Pyramid N 21 has moulded corners and was built in a marginal position. It belongs to Amanirenas.
Pyramid N 25 and N 26 were built of ferricrete sandstone, and were the last to be built for unknown queens.
During the later period, those pyramids down the eastern slope of the high ridge were made of large red bricks
The Western Cemetery like the southern cemetery dates to the Ancestral era of the Meroitic. The western pyramids are fewer and less interesting to look at than the others. They are on flat ground and surrounded by a metal fence. Some reconstruction has taken place, but otherwise it looks fairly neglected and off the beaten track.
The pyramids would all have been covered with white plaster which is resistant to the weather. They would have been painted red with blue decorations, and on top there would have been a pyramidon brightly painted yellow. The funerary chapels face east, but the decoration within varied according to the time it was constructed.
The pyramids in the southern cemetery are the oldest in Begrawiya. I have not been able to find much written about them, but we decided to go there first, as last time we ignored them. Looking across the wadi to the Northern Cemetery there is a wonderful view of the pyramids there, so slogging across the sand and up the outlier was well worth doing.
At least one of the Pyramids has had reconstruction done to it.
The pyramids of the Sudan outnumber those to be found in Egypt. Although they are smaller and steeper, and the Sudanese claim they are older on the principal that you start small until you get experience, they are accepted by traditional archaeologists as of much later date.The Sudanese kingdoms of Napata and Meroe were from about 900 BC to 500 AD.
Many are damaged, but there are also many with good carvings to be seen.
Although the sand has encroached , and continues to do so, this could be a blessing as it has protected the site.The sandstone blocks from which the outer layers were built come from the eastern plateau and have been weathered black.Inside they are filled with rubble, pebbles and stones.
See if you approve of the reconstructed pyramids done by a German archaeologist. These have been done in cement. I'm afraid I like my ruins to look like ruins, not concrete copies!
For more see travelogues.
I've been told that the pyramids in Meroe is even older than those in Egypt and so I had to go and see them myself. The trip will take you 3 hours from Khartoum and it's a hot & tiring one at that.
Once you arrive there, don't bother looking for a fancy giftshop or a ticket booth because you will have to negotiate with the "gatekeeper" (I call him that) and bargain the hefty entrance fee of SD3000 or USD13. If you get a special letter from the Ministry, you can enter for free. There are also no cafes so bring your own food & water but try not to drink too much because there are also no bathrooms in the area.
There is a small number of pyramids in the cordoned area, and you can wander around freely & touch the hierography on the walls. The "restoration" work involves plastering the pyramid walls with a smooth layer of concrete or plaster thus losing any profile or hierography. Nevertheless, it is an experience to finally see & touch antiquity.
If you feel tired from walking around in the dunes, try riding a camel at Meroe for SD500 or USD2.50. You have to bargain it from much higher than that but I got it at that price.
An interesting thing to do in Meroe is to have a camel ride. There will be some camels parked at the entrance of the Meroe Pyramids. If you want a ride, you will have to bargain because the prices are pretty high (I was asked SD4000 or USD18). You can get a short ride around the pyramids for SD500 (after bargaining) but be aware that the camel owners might ask more for pictures, etc
The people are thought to have relied on both agriculture and domestication of livestock. Many artefacts have been uncovered at Meroe, giving rise to the belief that iron ore was smelted here too. By about 30Ad, the Kingdom of Kush had collapsed and Nubia converted to Christianity.
With no deciphered written record, we can only surmise at their industry, trade and peoples through archaeological discoveries and references to their kingdoms in Egypt and Greece. It is unknown where the people originated from, where they went and why they abandoned their great city.
The ancient land of Nubia was located south of Egypt, between Aswan and the sixth cataract in what is modern day Sudan. Some of Africa’s greatest civilisations emerged here, as early as the 6th century BC the powerful Kingdom of Kush was centred in Meroe, they even ruled over Egypt for a time! Meroe became a vast metropolis with a considerable trade centre and immense temples complete with an inner city that contained palaces, pools, observatories, shrines and columns.
There are about thirty tombs in various states of preservation spread out over two main areas. The pyramid tombs are maybe about twenty, thirty metres high, and are not hollow as I had imagined...they were just decorations, and the actual tombs and chapels are in the entrance. A couple have been restored by Italian excavators in the 1960's, and I have to say they do not look very realistic...rather a botched job invoving lots of cement...but from afar, they still manage to look impressive. The gatekeepers may give you a tour, but they were both busy carving miniature souvenir pyramids when we visited. They don't speak English, so if your Arabic is somewhat basic, then you won't get much from a tour anyway...
Nothing? Yep, you can do the same thing here as you can in Giza except you don't have to walk a 100 yards or so hunched over to see it nor do you have to pay and you can take your camera inside.....