Archaeologists have uncovered a hidden complex of rooms covered with Christian paintings in Old Dongola, a deserted town in Sudan that was once the capital of medieval Makuria.
A team from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology had been exploring houses dating from the later Funj period, 16th to 19th century, when they stumbled upon an opening into a small chamber painted with depictions of the Mother of God, Christ, a Nubian ruler, and Archangel Michael.
Preliminary research suggests the paintings were created during a time of extreme duress for Dongola, which was an important trade city on the Nile that flourished for hundreds of years under the peaceful relations between the Muslims of Egypt and the Christians of Nubia.
The paintings show a Nubian ruler, believed to be King David, being shielded by Archangel Michael and are accompanied by inscriptions calling for God to protect the city—figurative scenes that the archaeologists consider “unique for Christian art.”
David’s reign marked the beginning of the end for the kingdom and his actions led to the city being sacked by the Mamluk Sultanate in 1276.
Onsite archaeologists speculate that the paintings might have been made with the Mamluk army approaching or laying siege to the city. Inscriptions accompanying the paintings, according to a preliminary reading, include pleas for God’s protection.
The chambers in Old Dongola are covered with vaults and domes built from dried brick and are more than 20 feet above the medieval ground level, a fact that has confused archaeologists.
The complex is adjacent to the Great Church of Jesus, which was the most important church of the Makuria kingdom.
“I think these structures were built in exactly this place because of the presence of the Great Church of Jesus, which was the largest and most important church in Nubia according to written sources,” Artur Obłuski, the project’s director told Artnet News. “We have funding for three new projects and one is focused on the excavation of the Great Church of Jesus.”
Ahead of their return to Old Dongola in the autumn when temperatures in Sudan are cooler, the team has secured and protected the wall paintings.
Polish archaeologists have been excavating the town since the 1960s, with the latest work funded by the European Research Council.
“Despite all the new and fancy methods,” Obłuski said, “archaeology still delivers surprises like this one.”
Bone tools for bleeding cows discovered in a 7,000-year-old cemetery in Sudan
During excavations in the Letti basin in northern Sudan, archaeologists have unearthed 7,000-year-old bone tools used to bleed cows. Explorers believe this may be the earliest evidence of such a practice.
7,000-year-old burials were discovered during the excavation of a cemetery in the Letti Basin, including the remains of an elderly man and animal skin fragments that had been dyed red by the mineral ochre.
The burials belonged to some of the region’s first cattle breeders.
Along with five bone blades probably made from cattle bones, the burial pit also contained a small bowl with ochre traces.
The bone blades had a funnel-like or gutter-like shape and were still razor-sharp, as revealed by a closer inspection.
The tools immediately drew the attention of researchers, Piotr Osypiński, one of the excavations’ lead archaeologists, told Science in Poland.
Experts believe these tools were used for cattle bloodletting, the release said. The custom of bleeding cows is still practiced today by the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania, Osypiński said.
Dr. Piotr Osypiński, said: “Given the characteristic shape of the blades, they could have been used to bleed cows, similar to modern African shepherds, such as the Maasai.
Without any harm to the animals, cows’ blood is drunk on special occasions, usually mixed with milk. It would be the oldest known record of this type of practice”.
For the Maasai people, cow’s blood is “both ordinary and sacred food,” and is “considered beneficial for people with weakened immune systems” with its high amount of protein.
Blood can be consumed on its own, mixed with milk, or mixed into other cooked dishes. Cattle bleeding entails nicking the animal’s neck, collecting the blood in a bowl, and then clotting the wound to ensure proper healing.
At a different cemetery burial, more bone blades were discovered. The remains of a young man were curled up in a fetal position in this tiny oval grave.
The deceased, with a small, precisely cut hole in his skull, was covered with animal skin dyed in ochre.
According to the press release, the man’s skull hole may have contributed to his demise. It’s unclear whether this hole was made during surgery or as part of a ritual.
Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a temple dating back around 2,700 years, to a time when a kingdom called Kush ruled over a vast area, including what is now Sudan, Egypt and parts of the Middle East.
The temple remains were found at a medieval citadel at Old Dongola, a site located between the third and fourth cataracts of the Nile River in modern-day Sudan.
Some of the temple’s stone blocks were decorated with figures and hieroglyphic inscriptions. An analysis of the iconography and script suggest that they were part of a structure dating to the first half of the first millennium B.C.
The discovery was a surprise, since no finds dating as far back as 2,700 years were known from Old Dongola, archaeologists with the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw said in a statement.
Inside some of the temple’s remains, the archaeologists found fragments of inscriptions, including one mentioning that the temple is dedicated to Amun-Ra of Kawa, Dawid Wieczorek, an Egyptologist collaborating with the research team, told Live Science in an email.
Amun-Ra was a god worshipped in Kush and Egypt, and Kawa is an archaeological site in Sudan that contains a temple. It’s unclear if the newfound blocks are from this temple or one that no longer exists.
Julia Budka, a professor of archaeology at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich who has done extensive work in Sudan but is not involved with this research project, told Live Science in an email that “it is a very important discovery and poses several questions.”
For example, she thinks more research may be needed to determine the temple’s exact date. Another question is whether the temple existed at Old Dongola or whether the remains were transported from Kawa or another site, like Gebel Barkal, a site in Sudan that has a number of temples and pyramids, Budka said.
Although the discovery is “very important” and “very exciting,” it’s “too early to say something precise,” and more research is needed, she said.
Research at Old Dongola is ongoing. The team is led by Artur Obłuski, an archaeologist at the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology.
Archaeologists have discovered sandstone blocks belonging to a pharaoh’s temple covered with hieroglyphs in Sudan
Polish archaeologists have discovered sandstone blocks belonging to a pharaoh’s temple covered with hieroglyphs during excavations at Old Dongola in Sudan.
Recent excavations have uncovered over 100 blocks of white sandstone, inscribed with Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics from the period of the 25th dynasty of Egypt, also known as the Nubian Dynasty.
The blocks found in Old Dongola were originally part of a structure, possibly a temple, built in the first half of the 1st millennium BC, which is the earliest example of human activity on a site identified so far.
Egyptologist Dr. Dawid F. Wieczorek said: “This is a huge discovery, because despite the 60-year Polish archaeological presence in Old Dongola, no evidence of such early construction activity on the site has been identified so far.
It is impossible to say whether this material is local or was brought from some other site. Nevertheless, it is surprising that there are so many of these blocks, and from different parts it seems of the same temple.”
Some of the blocks are from the flooring, outer walls, and from a pylon (a tower flanking the entrance to the temple). “This would push back the known history of this city by over 1000 years,” said Dr. Wieczorek.
Within a radius of more than 100 kilometers from Old Dongola, there are no other known examples of sites with Egyptian-style architecture.
The closest is Gebel Barkal (about 150 km up the Nile), and Kawa (about 120 km down the Nile). Both were leading urban and religious centers established during the New Kingdom in the 16th and 14th centuries BC.
The Kushite king Kashta came to Egypt amid political turmoil to run for the office of pharaoh, apparently in Thebes and apparently peacefully.
He was the first of the Nubian line of kings who ruled as the 25th dynasty of Egypt (747–656 BC). Piye, the next king, led the conquest of Egypt into the Nile Delta, reacting dramatically to the threat of a combination of powerful northern dynasty. He created an empire that stretched from the 6th cataract to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Kushite rulers presented themselves as pharaohs who could return Egypt to its former glory. They assimilated into society by reaffirming Ancient Egyptian religious traditions, temples, and artistic forms, while introducing some unique aspects of Kushite culture.
Cattle May Have Been Domesticated in the Central Nile Valley
Scientists have found that humans domesticated cattle around 10,000 years ago in the Central Nile region in today’s Sudan.
The preliminary conclusions from researchers at the Polish Academy of Sciences who recently returned from excavations overturn traditional thoughts that domesticated cattle came to East Africa from the lands of Turkey and Iraq.
Researchers are now waiting for precise sample dating results that will confirm their age. All indications are, however, that it is a period far preceding the 5th millennium BCE, a commonly accepted date of introduction of domesticated cattle from the Middle East. This would mean that domestication took place locally.
The area of the latest research was the Letti Basin in the Central Nile Valley. So far, this area has been known mainly as the economic base of the capital of the medieval kingdom of Makuria – Old Dongola, where Polish excavation missions have been working for five decades.
Dr. Piotr Osypiński from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology PAS, who conducts research in the Letti Basin together with Dr. Marta Osypińska from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Wrocław said: “The traces of human presence in this area are definitely older and reach the 8th-millennium BCE. We focused on them during the latest research”.
Researchers call this area the great African intersection because this is where the trails of animals and people, existing for millennia along the Nile, cross the Sahel belt – the southern border of the Sahara.
In this area, on the edge of the desert and arable areas, the researchers discovered archaeological sites, several millennia older than the ancient civilizations and the Christian kingdom of Makuria. Their research sheds light on the topic of domesticating cattle by the first shepherds about 10,000 years ago.
The puzzle is where the domesticated cattle of early Eastern Sahara shepherds came from, says archaeozoologists, Dr. Marta Osypińska.
Geneticists suggest that all domestic cattle we know today originated from a herd of aurochs that lived about 10,000 years ago in the lands of today’s Turkey and Iraq. Therefore, it would have to reach Africa in a domesticated form, according to the prevailing views in the 5th-6th millennium BCE.
However, archaeologists thought earlier that African cattle were domesticated also locally, in the Eastern Sahara region. The deserting ecosystem was to be conducive to ‘strengthening relations’ between humans and aurochs, and humans had followed the herds of these large ruminants from the earliest times. However, there was no direct evidence that such a process actually took place, i.e. the remains of wild cattle and its transitional and domesticated forms. In the case of African domestication, the very presence of the remains of archaic cattle (in sites older than those indicated by geneticists in the 5th-6th millennium BC) would constitute such evidence.
Dr. Osypińska said: “Due to the lack of finds (from earlier excavations) in the form of well-preserved bones of large ruminants, the idea of local domestication of cattle was abandoned, and genetic reports dominated the scientific debate. Meanwhile, during our research in Letti, we made discoveries that shed new light and allow us to resume the debate about the origin of cattle in Africa.”
At one of the sites from the beginning of the Holocene Age (approx. 10,000 years ago), the researchers discovered the remains of domesticated cattle with ‘aurochs-like’ features. They were among the bones of other, strictly wild species of animals inhabiting the savannah.
The researchers are waiting for precise sample dating results, which will confirm their age and allow them to talk about the local domestication.
Osypiński said: “That group of people already knew ceramic vessels, used quern-stones to grind cereal grains (wild varieties of millet), so they can be called early-Neolithic communities. They still hunted wild savannah animals, with one only exception – cattle at an early stage of domestication.”
From a layer from the same period, archaeologists extracted a tiny clay figurine depicting a cow. Although the head has not survived, according to the discoverers the silhouette undoubtedly points to a large ruminant. Very similar figurines are known in many shepherd cultures, including the Nuer people from South Sudan, the researchers say.
The interdisciplinary team’s research was financed by the Polish National Science Centre.
35 Ancient Pyramids Discovered in Sudan Necropolis
Archaeologists excavating a site in Sudan have discovered 35 pyramids revealing fascinating links between the bygone Kingdom of Kush that once existed there and ancient Egypt.
The pyramids, which date back around 2,000 years, are smaller than most Egyptian examples with the largest being 22 feet in width and the smallest, likely constructed for the burial of a child, being just 30 inches.
The site in Sedeinga, northern Sudan, was part of the ancient kingdom of Kush which shared a border with Egypt and, later on, the Roman Empire.
One factor that has surprised the team was how densely concentrated the pyramids were. In a single area of 5,381 square feet, roughly the size of a basketball court, they found 13 pyramids.
Sadly the condition of the pyramids has suffered from the presence of a camel caravan route and the long passage of time and none of the top sections remains intact.
Capstones, depicting either a bird or a lotus flower on top of a solar orb, have originally been placed at the top of the pyramids. Graves were discovered beside the pyramids in tomb chambers which were often found to have held more than one body.
Sadly these graves had all been plundered, possibly many hundreds of years ago, however, the archaeologists did find skeletal remains and some artefacts. The archaeological team believes the building of pyramids at Sedeinga continued for centuries and was strongly influenced by Egyptian funerary architecture.
Vincent Francigny, a research associate with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told LiveScience: ‘The density of the pyramids is huge.
‘Because it lasted for hundreds of years they built more, more, more pyramids and after centuries they started to fill all the spaces that were still available in the necropolis.
‘They reached a point where it was so filled with people and graves that they had to reuse the oldest one.’
Some of the pyramids were found to have been built with cross-braces connecting the corners to an inner circle. Interestingly only one pyramid outside of Sedeinga is known to have been built in this way.
Mr Francigny believes that when pyramid building came into fashion at Sedeinga it could have been combined with a local circle-building tradition called tumulus construction, resulting in pyramids with circles within them.
He added: ‘What we found this year is very intriguing. A grave of a child and it was covered by only a kind of circle, almost complete, of brick.’
Among the artefacts discovered were depictions of Egyptian gods including Bes who is associated with children and pregnant mothers. One of the most interesting finds was an offering table depicting the jackal-headed god Anubis and a goddess believed to be Isis.
A dedication to a woman named ‘Aba-la,’ which researchers believe may be a nickname for ‘grandmother,’ was inscribed with ancient Meroitic writing – a script derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Ancient Mural Paintings Of Nubian Pyramids Depict Giant Carrying Two Elephants And Giant Kings
Almost every culture that prevails around the world talks consists of ancient accounts that narrate the tales of giants living on the Earth. One more addition to such accounts is the ancient mural painting in the Nubian pyramids that portrays a ‘Giant’ carrying two elephants.
Moving north from Khartoum along a narrow desert road toward the ancient city of Meroë, one will definitely enjoy a breathtaking view emerging from beyond the mirage that is dozens of steep pyramids piercing the horizon.
However, irrespective of the number of visits one pays to this place, there is always an awed sense of discovery. Meroë is the former capital of the Kingdom of Kush, and here the road divides the city.
A royal cemetery consisting of somewhat around 50 sandstone and red brick pyramids of varying heights and broken tops is located towards the East. The royal city including the ruins of a palace, a temple, and a royal bath is located towards the West. Each structure has a distinctive architecture that draws on local, Egyptian, and Greco-Roman decorative tastes―evidence of Meroe’s global connections.
Past Associated With the City of Kush
The first civilization that was established in northern Sudan dates back 300,000 years. It is home to the oldest sub-Saharan African kingdom, the kingdom of Kush (about 2500-1500 BC). This civilization manufactured some of the most beautiful pottery in the Nile valley, including Kerma beakers.
The 200 years from the fall of Kush to the middle of the 6th century is an unknown age in Sudan. Nubia was inhabited by a people called the Nobatae by the ancient geographers and the X-Group by modern archaeologists, who are still at a loss to explain their origins.
Sudan was extremely desired for its rich natural resources particularly gold, ebony, and ivory. The British Museum collection has many objects made from the resources acquired from Sudan.
Just like every other kingdom, ancient Egyptians were also attracted to Sudan with the intention of grabbing a hold on rich natural resources. Concerning the control over trade, there were constant conflicts between the Egyptians and the Sudanese.
Around 1700 BC, the Kingdom of Kush was the strongest state in the Nile valley. The conflict between Egypt and Kush followed, culminating in the conquest of Kush by Thutmose I (1504-1492 BC). In the west and south, Neolithic cultures remained as both areas were beyond the reach of the Egyptian rulers.
City of Meroë And The Ancient Mural Painting of a Giant carrying two elephants
The city of Meroë is home to a remarkable number of pyramids, however, the majority of them are ruined. The pyramids of this city have the distinctive size and proportions of Nubian pyramids.
Meroë came into the picture and to the knowledge of Europeans in 1821 by the French mineralogist Frédéric Cailliaud (1787-1869). Numerous enigmatic and mysterious objects were discovered which included the reliefs and paintings on the walls of the sepulchral chambers. One such mysterious find was a painting that depicts a giant of enormous proportions carrying two elephants.
Though the features of the painted giant are not Nubian but caucasian and his hair is light in colour. Is this ancient mural painting proof of the existence of a race of red-haired giants with six fingers in antiquity?
Did Giants Really Live Around the Nile Valley?
Back in 79 AD, a Roman historian, Josephus Flavius put in writing that the last of the race of Egyptian giants did live in the 13th century BC, during the reign of King Joshua. It was further added by the historian that the giants had humongous bodies, and their facial features were not at all human, and their one sight was a treat to eyes.
They had a heavy, rough voice that was almost like a lion roaring.
Moreover, many of the wall paintings of ancient Egypt depict the builders of Pyramids as “Giant People” by the size of 5 to 6 meters tall. It is believed by researchers and experts that the giants had the ability to lift 4 to 5 tons of blocks individually.
Some of those ancient mural paintings showed giant kings ruling ancient Egypt, while some depicted comparably little-sized servants under the giant people.
Gregor Spörri, a Swiss entrepreneur and a passionate admirer of the history of Ancient Egypt, met with a gang of robbers of ancient burials through one of the private suppliers in Egypt in 1988.
According to Gregor Spörri, the owner of the giant finger was a grave robber that acquired the piece while searching through an undisclosed thumb in Egypt.
When Gregor Spörri, a 56-year-old entrepreneur offered to purchase the giant finger, the owner responded: NEVER.
As per Gregor Spörri, the grave robber who discovered the finger also had a certificate of Authenticity and an X-ray image, both of which are from the 1960s.
The discovery of numerous ancient mural paintings in Egypt has compelled many to believe that in the distant past, the ancient Egyptians were indeed giant. They were massive in size. These giant humans of Egypt had Giant Animals and Birds as well. People of regular size like us cohabited along with these ancient Egyptian humans. Did giants once really roam on earth along with humans? Is it even possible historically and scientifically?
Ancient wall painting in the Nubian pyramids depicting a Giant carrying two elephants
If you drive north from Khartoum along a narrow desert road toward the ancient city of Meros, a breathtaking view emerges beyond the mirage: dozens of steep pyramids piercing the horizon. No matter how many times you visit, there is an amazing sense of discovery.
In Meros itself, once the capital of the Kingdom of Kush, the road divides the city. To the east is the royal cemetery, filled with about 50 sandstone and red brick pyramids of varying heights; The legacy of the European robbers of the 19th century has been broken by many. To the west is the royal city, which includes the ruins of a palace, a temple and a royal bath.
Each structure has a distinctive architecture that draws on evidence of global ties to the local, Egyptian and Greco-Roman decorative tastes—Mero.
A Brief History of the “Land of Kush”
The first settlers in North Sudan date back to 300,000 years ago. It is home to the oldest sub-Saharan African state, the Kingdom of Kush (around 2500–1500 BC). This culture produced some of the most beautiful pottery in the Nile Valley, including the Karma Beaker.
Sudan was reputed for its rich natural resources especially gold, ebony and ivory. Many items in the British Museum collection are made of these materials.
Ancient Egyptians were drawn south in search of these resources during the Old Kingdom (about 2686–2181 BC), which often led to conflict as Egyptian and Sudanese rulers sought to control trade.
Kush was the most powerful kingdom in the Nile Valley around 1700 BC. The conflict between Egypt and Kush culminated in the conquest of Kush by Thutmose I (1504–1492 BC). In the west and south, Neolithic cultures persisted as both regions were out of reach of the Egyptian rulers.
Peculiar murals of the city of Meros and the giant carrying elephants
The city of Meros is marked by over two hundred pyramids, many of which are in ruins. They have the typical shape and proportions of the Nubian pyramids.
The site of Meros was brought to the knowledge of Europeans in 1821 by the French mineralogist Frédéric Callioud (1787–1869). The most interesting objects were the reliefs and paintings on the walls of the chambers of the tombs. One of the pictures depicts a giant proportion carrying two elephants.
His features are not Nubian but Caucasian and his hair is light-coloured. Will this mural be evidence of the existence of a race of red-haired six-fingered demons in ancient times?
In the distant past, did demons really roam the Nile Valley?
In 79 AD, the Roman historian Josephus Flavius wrote that the last race of Egyptian giants lived during the reign of King Joshua in the 79th century BC. He further wrote that they had huge bodies, and their faces were so different from those of ordinary humans that it was wonderful to see them, and it was scary to hear their loud voice which was like the roar of a lion.
In addition, many wall paintings from ancient Egypt depict the builders of the pyramids as “giant people” ranging in size from 5 to 6 meters tall. According to experts, these giants were capable of lifting 4 to 5 tons of blocks separately.
Some of those ancient murals showed giant kings ruling ancient Egypt, while some depicted comparatively small-sized servants under giants.
In 1988, Gregor Spori, a Swiss entrepreneur and a passionate admirer of ancient Egyptian history, met a gang of robbers of ancient burials through one of the private suppliers in Egypt.
The meeting took place in a small house in Bir Hooker, a hundred kilometres northeast of Cairo, where Spori saw a giant mummified finger wrapped in rags.
The finger was very dry and light. According to Spori, the incredible creature to which he belonged must have been at least 5 meters (about 16.48 feet) in height. To prove authenticity, a Tomb Raider showed a photo of an X-ray of a mummified finger taken in the 1960s.