was a reservoir of royal pyramids long after the had ceased to be built
in Egypt itself. Above the IIIrd cataract the principle
pyramid cementeries at el-Kurru, Gebel Barkal, Nuri and Meroe, were
built about 180 pyramids. The Nubian sequence begins more than 800 years
after the last royal pyramid was built in Egypt.
on the right bank of the Nile, about 13 km south from the Gebel Barkal.
Excavations directed by
G.Reisner in 1918-19 discovered on the cementery
pyramids, which stood above tombs of kings of XXV Dynasty:
Tanutamon. Pyramid of Piankhi had a base
length of about 8 m and a slope of probably about 68o.
A stairway of 19 steps opened to the east and led to the burial chamber
cut into the bedrock as an open trench and covered with a corbelled
masonry roof. Piankhi's body had been placed on a bed which
rested in the middle of the chamber on a stone bench with its four
corners cut away to receive the legs of the bed, so that the bed
platform lay directly on the bench. The pyramids of Piankhi cuccessors
were similiar. There were also 14 queens pyramids at el-Kurru, 6 to 7 m
square, compared to the 8 to 11 m of the king's pyramids. Northeast of
the royal cementery, G.Reisner found the graves of 24 horses and two
field of Nuri contained 21 kings together with 52 queens
and princesess . The first to build his tomb at Nuri was king Taharqa.
His pyramid had 51.75 m square and 40 or 50 m high.
Taharqa subterranean chambers are the most
elaborate of any Kushite tomb. The entrance was by an eastern stairway
trench , north of the pyramid's central axis, reflecting the alignment
of the original smaller pyramid. Three steps led to a doorway, with a
moulded frame, that opened to a tunnel, widened and heightened into an
antechamber with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. Six massive pillars carved
from the natural rock divide the burial chamber into two side
aisles and a central nave, each with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The
entire chamber was surrounded by a moat-like corridor entered
steps leading down from in front of the antechamber doorway. After
Taharqa 21 kings and 53 queens and princesess were buried at Nuri under
pyramids of good masonry, using blocks of local red sandstone. The Nuri
pyramids were generally much larger than those at el-Kurru, reaching
heights of 20 to 30 m. The last king to be buried at Nuri died in
about 308 BC.
B - burial chamber
C - first chapel
D - preserved height
308 BC rose to prominence, and kings began to build pyramids on
cementary of Meroe, between the 5th and 6th
cataracts. Meroe remained the royal cementary for 600 years, until AD
350. The step-sided pyramids of Meroe were built of sandstone, 10
to 30 m high. As at Nuri, the pyramids were stepped and built on a
plinth, but now each triangular face was framed by smooth bands of
raised masonry along the wedges where the faces met.