Archaeologists Found a Mysterious, Dense Cluster of 35 Pyramids in Sudan

The pyramids hail back to the days of the kingdom of Kush, which occurred around 2,000 years ago

Some of the newly discovered pyramids
Some of the newly discovered pyramids Vincent Francigny/SEDEAU

At least 35 small pyramids and their associated graves turned up in Sudan, in an area called Sedeinga, researchers announced. The structures are surprisingly densely clustered, with 13 of them crammed into an area just larger than an NBA basketball court, Scientific American reports. The pyramids hail back to the days of the kingdom of Kush, which occurred around 2,000 years ago.

Kush shared a border with Egypt and, later on, the Roman Empire. The desire of the kingdom’s people to build pyramids was apparently influenced by Egyptian funerary architecture.

At this particular site, people built pyramids for centuries. Over time, the researchers speculate, the Kush people built more and more structures, filling in the gaps of open land with necropolises or more pyramids. The building continued until they ran out of room and had to reuse the oldest graves.

The largest pyramid is about 22 feet wide at the base, while the smallest—likely built for a child—is just 30 inches long. The tops of the pyramids, which archaeologists think were once decorated with birds or flower carvings, are mostly missing thanks to the ravages of time and the grave-robbing caravans that passed by the region throughout the years.

Many of the graves themselves were plundered, but the researchers did find some bones and artifacts, including an offering table depicting the goddess Isis and the god Anubis. An inscription written in Meroitic language on the table is dedicated to a woman named Aba-la, possibly a nickname for “grandmother.” It reads:

Oh Isis! Oh Osiris!

It is Aba-la.

Make her drink plentiful water;

Make her eat plentiful bread;

Make her be served a good meal.

More from

Alcohol from Archaeology and Modern Life
Dispatch from Stonehenge

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.