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Ancient Sudan / Nubia / Cush /

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Gebel Barkal

Gebel Barkal, Sudan: Temple of Amon

Gebel Barkal. Photo: Krzysztof Grzymski/Saudi Aramco

Pyramids of Nuri, Sudan.
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Pyramids at Nuri.

In Ancient Upper Nubia, city and region. It was the first capital of the second kingdom of Cush from at least 8th century until early 6th century BCE.
Napata lies near Karima, modern Sudan, on the southern side of the Nile, 30 km southwest of the 4th cataract, about 400 km north of modern Khartoum, Sudan's capital.
It has in fact never been proven that Napata ever had the royal residence which would have made it the capital it is said to be; no settlement has ever been identified here. Still, it would be wrong to suggest that Napata never existed, there is too much contemporary information about it.
Much of Napata's wealth was based on gold, which was mined in the region. In culture, Napata was very much an Egyptian city, at least among the elite. This applied not only to burial practices, but also to religion, writing and, very likely, general aesthetics.
As district, Napata includes the pyramid burial grounds of al-Kurru and Nuri, the settlement and cemetery of Sanam, and especially Gebel Barkal. Gebel Barkal, right on the other side of the Nile, was the most important cult centre of ancient Nubia. Gebel Barkal is often classified under Napata, and vice versa.

Around 1450 BCE: Established by Egyptian king, Tuthmosis 3, along with the Temple of Amon at Gebel Barkal.
11th century: Decline of Egyptian power, allowing freedom for Napata to develop its own strong royal dynasty, the kingdom of Cush.
Late 8th century: Napata becomes in principle, capital of a united Cush and Egypt, although the Cushite rulers would soon relocate to Memphis.
Around 660: Cush looses effectively all Egyptian territory, and King Tanutanami relocates to Napata.
591: Egyptian king, Psametik 2, invades Cush, and destroys Napata.
580's: Cushite king, Aspelta, relocates Cushite royal court to MeroŽ. There is, however, no reason to assume that Napata did not continue as a regional centre.
22: Napata is sacked by a Roman invasion.

By Tore Kjeilen