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Ancient Egypt

Ancient Gold Unearthed in Nubia

Edited from BBC News, 19 June 2007

A team of archaeologists announced the discovery in 2007 of a huge ancient gold processing centre and a graveyard along the River Nile in modern northern Sudan.

They were territories within the kingdom of Kush, otherwise known as Nubia, which existed between 785 BC to around AD 350. Scholars said the finds showed that the empire was much bigger than had previously been thought, and that it rivalled ancient Egypt.

The archaeologists were racing to dig up the Hosh el-Geruf area, some 362 kilometres from the capital, Khartoum, before the Merowe dam flooded the area in 2008. The dam was due to create a lake one hundred and fifty kilometres long and three kilometres wide, forcing some 50,000 people from their homes.


Nubia was renowned for its gold deposits, according to Geoff Emberling of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, as published by National Geographic News. Even now, panning for gold was a traditional activity in the area.

Ancient Egypt conquered Kush (Nubia) around 2500 BC, proving that a kingdom existed by this time. This would seem to be the same land as that of the kingdom of Punt or Put which is sometimes described as being known as Libya in Greek texts. However, the Greeks used 'Libya' to describe a broad sweep of the North African territories.

Instead, Punt apparently lay to the south-east of Egypt, making either Nubia or the Arabian peninsula more likely as its location. This was the land of which Egypt lost control at the start of the Third Intermediate Period in 1075 BC, but during that period of domination they took hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds of gold each year in tribute.

The new discoveries showed that ancient Kush extended for up to 1200 kilometres along the River Nile. Near the gold processing centre, the archaeologists found some ninety graves.

They found one laughably tiny gold bead in the burials, but that was the only gold to be discovered, according to Mr Emberling. It seems certain that the gold was not used locally. Very likely it was for the benefit of the ruler and his circle in Kerma, 362 kilometres upstream from Hosh el-Geruf.



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