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Kingdom of Kush

2000 BCE — 400 CE

A Nubian Empire rivals Egypt for 1000 years

When we think of pyramids, the grand sillouettes of the Giza Pyramids land our imagination directly in ancient Egypt. But more than 2000 km south, in what is now the center of Sudan, the royal necropolis of Meroë is home to more than 200 pyramids, more than all of Egypt's pyramids together.

The civilation that erected these steep, slender pyramids is known as the Kingdom of Kush. A thriving culture, the Kushite people were relatively isolated until the 8th century BCE, sometimes trading or warring with their distant Egyptian neighbors to the north.

We don't know when the true power of Kush emerged, but the Egyptian Pharoah Mentuhotep II described a campaign against the Kingdom in 2100 BCE. And we do know that Kush's capital city of Napata was flooded with wealth from the region's numerous gold mines, leading to ongoing invasions by Egypt, ending in their annexing the nascent Nubian kingdom in 1504.

For more than 500 years, Kush was an Egyptian province, ruled by an Egyptian viceroy. Culturally, Kush was influenced by Egypt, and Egypt influenced by Kush. Then, in 1070 BCE, Egypt's power broke with the desintigration of the New Kingdom, and Kush was cut loose. 

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Ram's-head Amulet

712 BCE-664 BCE

Kushite priest wearing leopard's head

712 BCE-664 BCE

Kushite Pyramids at Meroë

300 BCE-300 CE

Iron Age
When you have iron you have power