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The Meroe Pyramids, Sudan

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Meroe Pyramids, Sudan

Meroe Pyramids, Sudan

Getty Images/Michael Freeman

The Meroe Pyramids:

The Meroe Pyramids are located in the North-East of Sudan near the banks of the Nile in the area commonly known as Nubia. There are close to two hundred pyramids in a relatively small area, the ancient burial site of the Merotic Kingdom (sometimes known as the Kingdom of Kush). The Pyramids are smaller than their Egyptian cousins but equally impressive due to their number. The first of the Meroe Pyramids were built about 800 years after the last Egyptian pyramids were completed. The Meroe pyramids were constructed from large blocks of sandstone. They're angled more steeply than the Egyptian pyramids.

History of the Meroe Pyramids:

The Kush Kingdom flourished for 900 hundred years from around 800 B.C. to 280 A.D. and held power over a vast area covering much of the Nile Delta and as far south as Khartoum. Meroe became very important as the Kingdom's center from around 300 B.C. to 280 A.D. Egyptian influence remained strong and Egyptian artisans were used to build the Meroe Pyramids to commemorate dead royalty. The dead were buried in chambers underneath the pyramids.

What's Left to See of the Meroe Pyramids:

Excavations of the Pyramids started in mid 19th Century. Most notoriously, an Italian explorer, Giuseppe Ferlini (1800-1870), smashed the tops off 40 pyramids in a quest to find treasure. What was found was brought back to British and German museums along with samples of Meroitic writing and reliefs depicting historical events. Through the years, the pyramids have been plundered of all their wealth and left to the elements. But many of the pyramids still stand and their architectural elegance is worth a trip. Some of the pyramids have been reconstructed so you get a good idea of what they must have looked like.

Visiting the Meroe Pyramids:

The Meroe Pyramids are situated relatively close to the town of Shendi which is on the railway line that follows the Nile. There is a village close to the ruins which may offer some basic accommodation. You can also arrange a day trip from Khartoum (but it'll be a long day).

Officially you need a visitors permit to visit the Pyramids (US10) and this can be obtained in Khartoum from the Antiquities Service. Travelers report that it's possible to enter the site without a permit and pay the gatekeeper the entrance fee. There are no cafes or toilets, so bring your own food and drink. You should have the place to yourself.

Tours, Hotels, And Other Travel Information for the Meroe Pyramids:

There are a few tour operators that offer a visit to Meroe as part of a package. Taharka Tours and Travel and Raidan Travel are two operators that can help you.

Otherwise, it's possible to visit the pyramids independently. These resources should help you get there:

Meroe Travel Guide from Virutal Tourist. See what recent travelers have to say about visiting the Meroe Pyramids.

Meroe Travel Information from Looklex.

Sources and More Information About the Meroe Pyramids:

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