The Kingdom of Kerma (2500 – 1500 BC)

The Kings of Kush

In the mid-third millennium BC, the land of Yam witnessed the emergence of tribal confederations subordinated to one ruler. This first kingdom, which in Egyptian records is referred to as Kush,  stretched in the south probably to the Fourth Cataract of the Nile, while its northern territory remained beyond the reach of Egyptian frontier fortresses.

The first capital

The main administrative-religious centre of the country, Kerma, was a great city in the full sense of the word. The remains of the palace buildings decorated in Egyptian style indicate that the residences of the ruling dynasty were also located there. Inherent in today’s landscape of excavation area are two huge cultic buildings – deffufas (Nubian term for massive brick constructions with small corridors inside). Unfortunately, full reconstruction of this oldest Sudanese city is extremely difficult, as in 1500 BC it had been conquered and completely destroyed by Egyptian armies.

In the vicinity of Kerma archaeologists discovered extensive cemeteries reinforced by mounds of stones. The largest of them belonged to rulers who were buried together with dozens of their ritually killed slaves. The dead were covered with leathers, and sometimes animals or their skulls were deposited near the graves. The Kerman grave pottery of the time had reached the peak of artistic development.