The Continuity of Religious Icongraphy

I found the discussion of Nubian pyramids in Dr. Watrall’s lecture very intriguing.  As Dr. Watrall stated, pyramids are considered to be the hallmark of Egypt and Egyptian culture, and that for the most part they were only built during the Old Kingdom.  However, thousands of years later in the Kushite Kingdom of Nubia, pyramids were once again built as royal tombs.

There are numerous Kushite royal necropoli scattered throughout Upper Nubia (what is now the Republic of Sudan).  And unlike the necropolis at Giza, there are hundreds of pyramids in Nubia built for both the Kushite royalty as well as the elites.  For example, at the royal cemetery of el-Kurru there are 54 pyramids which were built between 750 BC and 300 BC.  While these Kushite pyramids were not as large and grand as the Old Kingdom pyramids of Egypt, they served the same purpose–a burial place for the royals (and elites) and a site at which veneration of these individuals could occur.

What I found most interesting was the stylistic similarities between the Nubian and Egyptian pyramids.  Although separated by over 2,000 years, the art, iconography, religious texts, and language were almost identical to those found in Old Kingdom pyramids.  While it is clear that religious and iconographic traditions persisted for thousands of years in Egypt (and Nubia), it is difficult to comprehend such continuity.  As Dr. Watrall said, however, the interactions between the Egyptians and Nubians fostered a system of acculturation over thousands of years.  Additionally, the intermarriage of Egyptian and Kushite royal families certainly contributed to this continuity through time.

I think it is thought provoking that after thousands of years without pyramids the Nubians adopted and essentially “re-introduced” the building of these structures.  I wonder why they chose to restore this form and style of burial rather than others that were introduced into Egypt at a later period?