Egypt may lay claim to the world’s most famous pyramids, but 800 miles away from Giza, there are hundreds of similar peaks dotting the dark orange sands of Sudan, virtually undiscovered by the photo-snapping tourists who have overrun their northern neighbors.
Some 2,000 years after the Pharaohs first constructed their pyramids in Egypt, the rulers of what is now Sudan recruited Egyptian artisans to build their own smaller, yet more numerous, pyramids in Meroe. For more than 1,000 years, beginning in the 8th century B.C., the area was the heart of the Kingdom of Kush, which crumbled when Christianity arrived to the region in the 6th century A.D.
On the banks of the great Nile River, Meroe’s Royal Necropolis, and more than 200 pyramids, temples, and palaces have been excavated, many of them covering tombs of past kings and queens. They’re topped with classic Egyptian motifs, like birds and solar disks, and represent the melting pot of cultures that once came to a head in the long-lost kingdom. In a recent visit, the Guardian describes the scene as scattered peaks of temples and tombs sprinkled across a burnt landscape of rippling sand that the government of Sudan has been reluctant to promote for tourism.