The Loh Down On Science

Archeologists unearth many pyramids in what is now Sudan

Rilly & Francigny, Sudan Archeological Research Society, 2011.

Kite aerial view of the excavated zone. Dotted lines, excavation boundary in 2010. 1: North-South row of pyramids. 2: East-West row of pyramids.

Have archeologists unearthed the first great pyramid scheme?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Egypt’s great pyramids were tombs only for pharaohs.  But in Sudan, Egypt’s southern neighbor?  Pyramid democracy!

Archeologists in Sedeinga, Sudan, have been excavating a burial site, or necropolis.  It’s one hundred twenty miles from the Egyptian border.  Excavations started in the 1960s, on princely pyramids of the ancient kingdom of Kush.

But recently, French archeologists, working on another section, unearthed less princely oddities:  Squares everywhere, packed together!

What were they?  Eroded, mud-brick foundations of many small pyramids!  Some only a few feet across!  Each containing a grave!

To understand them, the archeologists examined one tomb’s carvings, written in ancient Merotic—the language of the region two millennia ago.

The archeologists concluded that the residents were influenced by Egyptian architecture, but not by its snootiness.  Whoever could afford a pyramid?  Built one!

The findings could advance knowledge of ancient Sudanese culture.

Or at least its daddies and mummies.  Sorry.

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This Thursday, from 2-3 p.m. (PT) on the Loh Down on Science blog, join Sandra as she chats with humorist Henry Alford about the science of laughter!

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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