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Coordinates: 18°33′52″N 31°54′59″E / 18.56444°N 31.91639°E / 18.56444; 31.91639
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Pyramids of Nubian kings Aspelta (foreground), Aramatle-qo and Amaninatakilebte at Nuri.
Location in Sudan
Location in Sudan
Shown within Northeast Africa
Location in Sudan
Location in Sudan
Nuri (Sudan)
LocationNorthern State, Sudan
Coordinates18°33′52″N 31°54′59″E / 18.56444°N 31.91639°E / 18.56444; 31.91639
Site notes

Nuri is a place in modern Sudan on the west side of the Nile, near the Fourth Cataract. Nuri is situated about 15 km north of Sanam, and 10 km from Jebel Barkal.

Nuri is the second of three Napatan burial sites and the construction of pyramids at Nuri began when there was no longer enough space at El-Kurru.[1] More than 20 ancient pyramids belonging to Nubian kings and queens are still standing at Nuri, which served as a royal necropolis for the ancient city of Napata, the first capital of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush. It is probable that, at its apex, 80 or more pyramids stood at Nuri, marking the tombs of royals. The pyramids at Nuri were built over a period of more than three centuries, from circa 670 BCE for the oldest (pyramid of Taharqa), to around 310 BCE (pyramid of king Nastasen).

Map of Jebel Barkal and Nuri.

The earliest known pyramid (Nu. 1) at Nuri belongs to king Taharqa which measures 51.75 meters square by 40 or by 50 metres high.[2] The pyramid of Taharqa was situated so that when observed from Jebel Barkal at sunrise on Egyptian New Year's Day, the beginning of the annual flooding of the Nile, the sun would rise from the horizon directly over its point.[3]

Tantamani, successor of Taharqa, was buried at el-Kurru, but all following Napatan kings and many of their queens and children until Nastasen (Nu. 15) (about 315 BC) were buried here, some 80 royals.[4] The pyramids at Nuri are, in general, smaller than the Egyptian ones and are today often heavily degraded (caused by both humans and nature), but often still contained substantial parts of the funerary equipment of the Kushite rulers who were buried here. During the Christian era, a church was erected here.[5] The church was built at least in part from reused pyramid stones, including several stelae originally coming from the pyramid chapels.

The pyramids were partially excavated by George Reisner in the early 20th century. In 2018, a new archaeological expedition began work at the site, directed by Pearce Paul Creasman.[6]

The pyramids of Nuri, together with other buildings in the region around Gebel Barkal, have been placed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Site since 2003.[7]

Tombs at Nuri[edit]

See List of monarchs of Kush for more information.
Pyramids of Nuri in 1821
Pyramids of Nuri in 1821 (plan). The largest one (Nb. 1) belongs to Taharqa, the others are numbered from West to East.
The ruins of the pyramid of Taharqa, the earliest and largest of the Nuri pyramids, circa 670 BCE.
View of the pyramids Nuri 9 (Aramatle-qo), Nuri 8 (Aspelta) and Nuri 7 (Karkamani) (from left to right).

The royal family of Kush was buried in the cemeteries of Nuri and el-Kurru.[8]
The King's Mothers were buried in the southern group, but this is not an area exclusively used for the burial of King's Mothers. Most of the King's Wives were buried in the parallel rows just north of Taharqa's tomb. The tombs to the far north were much smaller and may have been built for wives of lesser rank.[9] It was also found by Dows Dunham, an experienced archaeologist, that there were references to two other kings in three of the pyramids including King Taharqa. But, if they are buried there, their tombs have yet to be located and excavated.[10]

Main Nuri pyramids, seen from the top of the pyramid of Taharqa.
Back row (left to right): Nuri 14 Akhraten, Nuri 13 Harsiotef, Nuri 15 King Nastasen (in the forefront), Nuri 12 Amanineteyerike, Nuri 11 Malewiebamani, Nuri 10 Amaninatakilebte, Nuri 9 Aramatle-qo, Nuri 8 Aspelta (best preserved pyramid), Nuri 7 Karkamani, Nuri 6 Anlamani, Nuri 5 Malonaqen
Front row (left to right): Nuri 4 Siaspiqa (in the middle of the image), Nuri 18 Analmaye (small ruins in the back), Nuri 19 Nasakhma (small ruins in the back), Nuri 3 Senkamanisken, Nuri 2 Amaniastabarqa

Tomb artifacts[edit]

Shawabty of King Taharqa depicted holding two hoes, Nuri pyramid 1. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Numerous artifacts were found in the Nuri tombs, mainly excavated in 1916 by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition. It is noted that looting was present in all of the pyramids as they were accessible by digging a hole through the ground. Based on objects found within and around the tombs, it is likely that these looters came hundreds of years later. Of what remained, several fragments and completed Napatan red ware pottery were found within several tombs.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson, John A. (1958). "Review of The Royal Cemeteries of Kush. II. Nuri". Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 17 (2): 152–155. doi:10.1086/371459. ISSN 0022-2968. JSTOR 542625.
  2. ^ The Pyramids of Nuri
  3. ^ Timothy Kendall; 2002; Napatan temples: A case study from Gebel Barkal. Gebel Barkal, the Mythological Nubian Origin of Egyptian kingship, and the Formation of the Napatan state; pp.67-69.
  4. ^ Compare the list in Derek A. Welsby: The Kingdom of Kush. British Museum Press, London 1996, pp. 207-208 ISBN 0-7141-0986-X
  5. ^ Dunham, The Royal Cemeteries of Kush II, Nuri, fig. 216
  6. ^ Updates for the expedition can be found online.
  7. ^ Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region at UNESCO.org
  8. ^ Dows Dunham and M. F. Laming Macadam, "Names and Relationships of the Royal Family of Napata", The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 35 (December 1949), pp. 139-149
  9. ^ Angelika Lohwasser, "Queenship in Kush: Status, Role and Ideology of Royal Women", Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, Vol. 38 (2001), pp. 61-76
  10. ^ a b Dunham, Dows (1955). "The Royal Cemeteries at Kush, II. Nuri". Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 17 (2). JSTOR 542625 – via JSTOR.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Welsby, Derek A. (1998). The Kingdom of Kush: The Napatan and Meroitic Empires. Princeton: Markus Weiner Publishers. p. 207. ISBN 1-55876-182-9.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Welsby, Derek A. (1998). The Kingdom of Kush: The Napatan and Meroitic Empires. Princeton: Markus Weiner Publishers. p. 208. ISBN 1-55876-182-9.


  • Dows Dunham. The Royal Cemeteries of Kush II, Nuri, Boston (Mass.): Museum of Fine Arts, 1955.

External links[edit]