Kerma - pride of Nubia

The Kingdom of Kerma was an ancient civilisation that existed between 2500 BC and 1500 BC, located in what is today the northern part of Sudan. This kingdom has been regarded as the first Nubian state, and its capital, Kerma, is today an important archaeological site.  Kerma is a Nubian term which can be roughly translated as “red mound’.

Kerma was a major urban centre as shown by this photo taken from atop of the Western Deffufa

The site is best known for its three deffufas, mounds of mud bricks.  These are believed to be used for religious rites, especially as the best preserved, western deffufa contains the remains of a crowned cobra, the godly symbol for kingship.

Like the other two deffufas, the walls of the western deffufa are constructed of mudbricks. In the scorching heat, these walls help to cool the interior of the structure. The western deffufa has been measured to be 18 m in height, and covers an area of about 1400 square meters.  There are column chambers connected by a network of passageways.

The14m high Western Deffufa

The decorations and paintings on the interior walls have also been preserved, and a shrine on the roof of the building has been discovered. Whilst the western deffufa is almost certainly connected to the religious life of the people of Kerma, its precise function is still uncertain. The eastern deffufa can be found 2 km to the east of its western counterpart. The former is smaller than the latter, though there is a clearer idea of its function. As this deffufa is surrounded by a cemetery containing at least 30 000 graves, it has been suggested that this structure may have once served as a royal funerary chapel for the people of Kerma.

Much of Kerma's wall art survives


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