Kerma, capital of the First Kingdom of Kush, c. 2500 BC - 1500 BC
As with the previous post, most of you will already be familiar with the site. Kerma was the seat of a Nubian state that the archaeologists refer to as the Kerma Kingdom, or the Kingdom of Kerma, and the associated culture as Kerma Culture. The capital was located in Upper Nubia, between the 3rd and the 4th Cataract (close to the third) This is the first Sudanese Kingdom that the Egyptians referred to as the Kingdom of Kush (k3š), a name which stuck for almost 3 millennia. These people were contemporaneous to the Middle Kingdom, the Akkadian Empire, the first Kings of Babylon, the Minoans, the Indus Valley Civilization and Stonehenge. They even predate the Mycenaeans. Its predecessor, Pre-Kerma began around 3500 BC, itself the culmination of even earlier sedentary traditions in Northern Sudan.
The Kerma Period of Kushite history is important with regard to understanding the origins of advanced material culture, architecture, monumentalism, religion, state-hood and militaristic expansionism that predates the Egyptian conquest of Kush by more than a millennium! Kush, usually conflated with vague concepts of "Nubia", has often been seen as an irrelevant "adjunct" to Egypt. This outdated narrative is being entirely abandoned by modern Egyptologists and Nubiologists alike.
Kerma Kushites actually ransacked the Middle Kingdom. The Egyptian Middle Kingdom fortresses in Lower Nubia, including Buhen, widely regarded as the most impressive fortifications in the world at that time, were all conquered by these Kerma Period Kushites in their earliest recorded march on Thebes. Elaborate Egyptian statuary which was looted during the campaigns were placed in the tombs of Kerma rulers, and testify to these early military incursions with relative success, as do the inscriptions in the tomb of Sobeknakht, an Egyptian official who recounted the counterattack against Kushites at Elkab, a mere 65 km south of Thebes, the embattled Egyptian capital. Incredibly, a looted vessel belonging to Sobeknakht was actually found in a Kerma tomb, illustrating that Sobeknakht's already finished tomb had already been looted by the Kushites prior to the Egyptian counterattack, and the inscription in the tomb was made after the counterattack, and the refurbishment of Sobeknakht's tomb.
Here's something incredible to think about: The most famous of the looted Egyptian statues in Kerma Period Kushite tombs is the elegant statue of Lady Sennuwy, found in Kerma, Tumulus K III, hall A, a large 70 meter diameter mound with many rows of halls (often called "apartments") filled with burial goods and sacrificial offerings including humans (the largest tumuli reached a diameter close to 130 meters). This statue of Sennuwy comes from Asyut, Upper Egypt, a whopping 216 km NORTH of Thebes on the border of Middle Egypt. The implications are potentially far more significant than the inscriptions from Sobeknakht's tomb, but most academics have so far been shy to draw any conclusions. The Kerma Tumulus K III, dates to c. 1786 BC -1650 BC, which directly abuts the beginning of the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt: c. 1650 BC – 1550 BC! There's definitely still some untold history here...
I did some compositing of other people's work Kerma:
I watched a nice video on an exhibition on Kerma period Kush:
Took screenshots of the panoramic shot of the city:
Stitched them together:
Cut out the city. Did some color corrections. Separated the front part of the city from the back part. Applied blur to the back to emphasize sense of distance and scale. Worked in a panoramic savannah shot as the background, and blurred it a little more than the back part of the city. And some other random stuff. Tadaaaa:
@LordGood, I was like:
I aLsO mAdE tHiS mEmE [insert upside down smiley]
Map of central Kerma (This site was walled, and surrounded by more palaces/royal/elite compounds, agricultural villages and huge cemeteries with monumental chapels.
Kerma is obviously important for many reasons. One of the things which Kerma tells us is that Kushite monumental architecture had started in Sudan more than a millennium before the Egyptian conquest of Kush. The Western Deffufa still stands to a height of 18 meters today!
The Eastern Deffufa (Temple K II) is usually overshadowed by the larger one pictured above. But the Eastern Deffufa has it's own charm, if you realize that you're looking at a 3750 - 3480 year old monument:
The magnificent faience lion-inlays come from this mortuary temple.
So does this sandstone ceiling block with faience rosette inlays:
Temple K II, the Funerary Chapel, a.k.a the Eastern Deffufa during the excavations of George A. Reisner:
Another similar chapel on the map next to some of the biggest Tumuli (Temple K XI):
As you can see, some of these "mudbrick" temples were actually encased in sandstone! The insides were plastered and painted, sometimes with addition of elaborate faience inlays! Note the staircase, probably leading to the roof, just as in the Western Deffufa.
Temple K XI
Take note of the use of cut stone columns! This is very significant as it shows us that columned structures, just like so many architectural features were already a feature of Kushite architecture centuries before the Egyptian occupation of the area (and centuries before columned structures appeared anywhere on the European mainland).
Plan of the Eastern Cemetery:
There are c. 30.000 tumuli in the cemeteries of Kerma...
I have the distinct pleasure of presenting you with the highest quality pictures of some of the largest Kushite Tumuli ever to be indexed by Google I have looked for these pictures for almost 3 years! They're incredibly rare. I finally found them in the original excavation reports by George Andrew Reisner himself! The largest of these Royal Tumuli were absolutely huge! Probably not very tall, but huge nonetheless.
Reisner, George A.
Excavations at Kerma
Vol II, Cambridge, Mass. 1924
Kerma Tumulus K IV
Kerma Tumulus K III (The one where the looted Egyptian statue of Lady Sennuwy was found):
The stolen damsel herself appears. Lady Sennuwy still located in the land of her captors, more than 3500 years later.
Fully excavated statue in situ:
Funnily, the Egyptian statues of Sennuwy and the less well preserved example of her husband Djefaihapi, aren't even the only Egyptian funerary statues in Tumulus K III. Other Kerma tombs also contained Egyptian statuary. Kushites were even known for looting Ptolemaic and Roman statues in later times as well. Stealing statues seems to have been a national pass time... Definitely an expression of power by Kushite rulers. From K III:
Kerma Tumulus K X
And here's a museum restauration of a much more modest tumulus:
This one is a family affair:
Kushite bronze daggers, some of them the size of short swords, from the tumuli at Kerma.
Kushite Ivory inlays of Taweret, an Egyptian goddess, illustrating very early forms of syncretism:
Take note of the knife/sword she is holding:
Actual examples of such knives/swords from the tumuli at Kerma:
Lions were already central to the symbolism of Kush since the kerma period. Bronze lion inlays from Kerma:
Incredibly well preserved sandals from Kerma, essentially identical to the later Napatan and Meroitic sandals (which often aren't as well preserved)
Oddly appropriate artwork of Kerma Kushites "appropriating" articles from an Egyptian tomb during one of their raids or campaigns. The original Tombraiders. Perhaps not as sexy as Lara Croft, but at least as interesting... What is that guy doing with that axe???
Kushite burial customs:
Raid on Buhen: