THE UNKNOWN PYRAMIDS OF SUDAN
(P1) We had been LURED to Sudan by a friend who had spent three years teaching English in a school in Khartoum. He told many FASCINATING ANECDOTES about exploring ancient Nubia, cooking over CAMPFIRES among SAND DUNES, and meeting ARCHAEOLOGISTS who have discovered ARTEFACTS left behind by 5,000-year-old civilisations. We decided to visit him and take a journey back in time, driving along the Nile from Khartoum to Dongola, exploring the PYRAMIDS and other RUINS along the way.
(P2) Sudan isn’t a usual tourist DESTINATION, and it’s by no means an easy place to travel. Getting a visa to enter the country requires a lot of paper work.
(P3) From 2600 BC until approximately 300 AD, this area known as ancient Nubia was ruled by the Kushites, who were both enemies and friends of the Egyptians (at different times) and followed many of their RITUALS, such as burying their kings and queens in pyramid tombs. There are more than 250 pyramids along the Nile in Sudan, far outnumbering those in Egypt.
(P4) In Khartoum, we hired a car with a local driver to help us travel the slow, BUMPY roads and numerous police CHECKPOINTS (TERRORISM is a constant threat in Sudan).
(P5) Along the road going north out of Khartoum, our first major stop were the pyramids at Meroe, the capital of the Kushite kingdom from 300 BC on. Standing alone in the Sudanese DESERT for more than 2,000 years, they were built after the Egyptian pyramids and served as tombs for Meroe’s kings and queens. They sit close to the Nile, an important source of water and a TRADE ROUTE to Egypt.
(P6) Unlike Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza, most of Meroe‘s pyramids are slightly smaller, with steeper sides and narrower bases. Some stand tall in perfect condition, others are piles of RUBBLE. Their darker colour is due to the higher iron content in the rocks.
(P7) The pyramids at Meroe were listed as a Unesco World Heritage site in 2011, but owing to its location in northeastern Sudan – a place associated with war and economic CRISIS – it receives very few visitors, usually no more than 10 a day.
(P8) The pyramids at Meroe are Sudan’s best-PRESERVED pyramids; they have the highest numbers of tombs and are the most extensively EXCAVATED by archaeologists. However, as you drive along the Nile, it not uncommon to spot other groups of pyramids or ancient ruins in the distance.
(P9) Driving several hundred kilometres up the river towards the city of Dongola, we visited the RENOWNED archaeological site at Kerma, home to the Kingdom of Kerma more than 5,000 years ago. Although they were influenced by the Egyptians, the people of Kerma were a separate civilisation, ruling over ancient Nubia before the Kushites arrived and built the pyramids.
(P10) In 2003, more than 40 large GRANITE STATUES of rulers of the Kushite empire, were found SCATTERED through the desert near Kerma. Most of these statues were collected and put into museums – but some (like this one lying on its side) have remained in the desert for travellers like me to discover.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Are there any ancient ruins in your country? Have you visited them?
- Why are ancient sites in the desert better preserved than ancient sites in the JUNGLE?
- Have you ever traveled to an interesting destination where there were very few people?
- Do you prefer “adventure travel” or “comfort travel”?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Sand dune
- Trade route