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Ancient Sudan /
Other spelling: Kermah

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Kerma, Sudan

Town in northern Sudan, on the right bank of the Nile, right above the 3rd cataract.
It relates also to the Kingdom of Kerma, lasting from around 2500 to 1500 BCE. This is also identified as Kingdom of Cush.
Kerma thrived from gold excavated in the Eastern desert. There was also cattle pastoralism as well as trade along the Nile.
Among the main structures from the Kerma culture are the two huge mud-brick structures known as deffufa, dating from the 17th century BCE. The Western Deffufa is about 50 by 25 metres, and 18 metres high. It must have served as a temple, with a shrine on its roof.
The Eastern Deffufa is 2 km away and is slightly shorter but just as high. It must have served as a funerary chapel, as its surroundings contain about 30,000 graves.
Rulers at Kerma built multi-roomed tombs. They were placed on their final rest on beds, surrounded by hundreds of servants who were ritually sacrificed to follow the king into the afterlife.
Pottery, important for differentiating cultures and establishing dates, is at Kerma highly polished and usually in red and black. There is also much Egyptian and Hyksos pottery, indicating a rich trade.
The Kerma culture has occasionally been defined as part of Egyptian culture, but it appears to be local and largely independent. The people living here are ancestors of the Nubians, a Nilotic people. The region is probably what the Egyptians referred to as Yam.
The site of Kerma includes both an extensive town and a cemetery consisting of large tumuli.

Around 7500 BCE: Settlement with a cemetery here, one of the two oldest in Africa.
Around 2500: The emergence of a civilization here.
19th century: Egyptian advances southwards lead to the establishment of a firm border at Semna. People of Kerma were not permitted to continue northbouth beyond this point.
17th century: Apparent height of the Kerma culture, with the building of the deffuffas. Also, this was a period of advances into Egyptian territory, but this primarily reflects the temporary weakness of Egypt, which had been invaded by the Hyksos.
15th century: Egyptian king, Tuthmosis 1, captures Kerma and destroys the Cushite state.
1913-15 CE: Excavations at Kerma.

By Tore Kjeilen