: When the Egyptians conquered northern Sudan (Kush/”Upper Nubia”) in the early Eighteenth Dynasty (ca. 1504 BCE), they identified Jebel Barkal as the birthplace and chief southern residence of their state god Amun. As part of their program of conquest, they established the cult of Amun in many places in Nubia, but Jebel Barkal seems to have had a unique importance for them as a creation site and home of a primeval aspect of Amun who renewed life each year with the Nile inundation. Beneath the Jebel Barkal cliff the Egyptians constructed a major religious center and gave it the same name as Karnak (Ipet-Sut), Amun’s great sanctuary at Thebes, some 1250 km downriver (fig. 2). The Egyptians called the hill variously Dju-Wa’ab (“Pure Mountain”) and Nesut-Tawy (“Thrones of the Two Lands.”) (which in Dynasty 25 and the Napatan Period sometimes became Neset-Tawy [“Throne of the Two Lands”]). The settlement which grew up around it they called Napata, which became the southernmost town in their African empire.
Unable to reconquer Egypt, subsequent Kushite kings consolidated their hold over northern Sudan and established a kingdom there, centered at Meroë, which survived for another millennium, until the fourth century CE. Throughout much of this time, Napata and its Amun sanctuary remained the kingdom’s chief religious center and the premier site of all royal coronations. Well into the Common era, Jebel Barkal was thought to be the main Nubian seat of the god Amun, who conferred kingship upon the rulers of Kush – a kingship believed by its possessors to have descended, in that place, directly from the sun god Re at the beginning of time.
Jebel Barkal, the chief landmark of the city and district of ancient Napata, is one of the largest archaeological sites in Sudan. The sanctuary in front of the mountain contains perhaps 24 important buildings (temples, chapels and palaces), of which 11 have thus far been excavated. On the mountain’s west side, it contains a field of royal pyramids, which are among the best preserved in Sudan (fig. 6). Within a 20 km radius of the mountain, there are many other important archaeological sites: among them Sanam, known as “Contra-Napata,” an ancient town and temple site 5 km downstream on the opposite (left) bank of the Nile, within the bounds of the modern town of Merowe; Duweim Wad Hajj, an unexcavated ancient temple(?) site on the left bank, directly opposite Jebel Barkal and overbuilt by a very old mosque; el-Kurru, the cemetery of most of the kings and queens of the 25th Dynasty and their ancestors (ca. 900-650 BCE); Nuri, the site of the pyramid of Taharqo (ca. 690-664 BCE) and those of his successors and queens during the Napatan Period (ca. 650-270 BCE); Hillat el-Arab, the site of a series of Egyptian or elite early Kushite rock-cut tombs (ca. 1000-750 BCE); Tangasi and Zuma, sites of monumental post-Meroitic tumulus graves (ca. 350-500 CE); el-Ghazali, an early Christian monastery (ca. 700-1000 CE), and Merowe Sheriq, a massive medieval Christian fortress (ca. 1000-1400 CE), whose walls incorporate blocks from much earlier Egyptian and Kushite buildings.Wikidata ID: Q743282
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