Sudan offers a surprising look into ancient Egyptian history.
This week, the celebration of Passover calls to mind the sojourn of the Jews in Egypt. And as Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, some church celebrations compare that event to the Exodus of the Hebrews from that land of slavery into the Promised Land.
Ancient Egypt, of course, is known as a land of pyramids, and, if you believe Cecil B. DeMille, it was Jewish slaves who put those huge stones together for the Pharaoh.
If you want to see pyramids, go to Egypt, of course. But if you’re a bit more intrepid, you might consider an expedition to nearby Sudan.
It’s not commonly known, but modern Sudan is chock full of pyramids. And, with recent conflicts in the area discouraging tourism, you could very well have the place to yourself. The Telegraph’s travel writer Chris Leadbeater provides a handy guide for such a journey.
In northern Sudan, you will find not King Tut but King Tanutamun, who reigned seven centuries before Christ. Actually, his body is gone, but the interior walls of his pyramid bear an image of him “being helped into the afterlife by gods and goddesses of the Egyptian pantheon,” Leadbeater writes.
Tanutamun’s monument is part of the El Kurru necropolis, some 275 miles north of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. Not far from there is Meroë, where you can explore some of the 177 pyramids.
“The realm of the pharaohs reached far south of what is now delineated as Egypt,” Leadbeater explains. It makes sense, when you look at a map of northeast Africa: Sudan is directly south of Egypt, and the Nile River runs right through both countries. Mentuhotep II invaded this area in the 21st century BC, and Egypt held sway over northern Sudan for centuries. More recently, the region has gone through a series of transformations, beginning with Ottoman annexation in 1821; British colonization in 1882, and independence in 1956. Years of civil war led ultimately to the creation of South Sudan in 2011.
Life goes on, but the pyramids of Sudan stand as a testament to a rich and largely forgotten history.