A team of French and Swiss archaeologists working
along the Nile Valley in 2002 uncovered ancient statues in northern
Sudan which were described as sculptural masterpieces.
The archaeologists from the University of Geneva
discovered a pit full of large monuments and finely carved statues
of the Nubian kings who were known as the black pharaohs. The Swiss
head of the archaeological expedition said that the find was of
The black pharaohs, as they were known, ruled over
what seems to have been a mighty empire which stretched along the
Nile Valley in the first millennium BC.
The pit, which was full of ancient monuments, was
located between a collection of ruined temples on the banks of the
Nile. It had not been opened for over two thousand years. Inside,
the archaeologists made a breathtaking discovery. The statues of
the black pharaohs were highly polished, finely carved, and made
The name of each king was engraved on the back and
on the feet of their specific sculpture. The head of the expedition,
Charles Bonnet, described them as being very beautiful, adding that
they were sculptural masterpieces.
They were important not just for the history of Sudan
but also for world art.
The Nubians were powerful and wealthy kings who
controlled large territories along the Nile. Their land was known as
the kingdom of Kush. They controlled the valuable trade routes along
the river but were eventually conquered by their neighbours from the
The ancient Egyptians made the pit into which the
monuments and statues were piled. Many of the sculptures were savagely
destroyed, with smashed heads and broken feet.
Professor Bonnet said this showed that the Egyptians
were not content simply with conquering Kush. They also wanted to
obliterate the memory of the black pharaohs and their unique culture
from the face of the earth. They almost succeeded, as information on
Kush is much harder to find when compared to Egypt.