Sandstone; H. 116, W. 84 cm, Th. 84 cm
From Wad Ban Naga
Preuliische Agypten-Expedition, 1844
Meroitic, 0-20, A.D.
Berlin, Agyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung
The Kushite rulers King Natakamani and Kandake Amanitore constructed important temples throughout the kingdom. They erected one such building, similar in ground plan and size to the Amun Temple at Naga, in one of the largest city centers of the "island" of Meroe, in the vicinity of the present-day Wad Ban Naga. In 1844, the Prussian expedition discovered three stands for divine barks or shrines there, of which the largest was brought through the authority of Muhammad Ali to Berlin.
The two others disappeared long ago. On the two larger stands, the decoration and inscriptions in Egyptian, used one last time after a long interval, bear close similarity to pieces from contemporary Egypt (that is, the early Roman Period), particularly at Philae.

The Egyptian temple is a model of the universe whose heavenly region is inhabited by the god. The divine image rests in a naos or divine bark on a stand which thus takes the form of a temple. Beneath a torus molding and cavetto cornice, adorned on one side with a winged sun-disk delineating a gateway, the star-filled heavens are shown on all four sides being "supported" by four individuals. Two opposite sides show two of the deities of the four cardinal points, holding up the heavens according to mythic imagery; they are Tawyt ("Bearer") for the north and Ahayt ("Midday") for the south. The horizontal captions describe the scene: "The heavens are lifted up by me for the mistress of the earth. Through me her place is established in greater (heavenly) distance than that of the one who bore her; may she shine in it in her bark like the moon who travels in his bark." "The heavens are lifted up by me for Isis, who grants life. Through me her place is established in greater (heavenly) distance than that of the one who raised her; may she shine in her chapel like the sun in his night-bark." In place of the other two cardinal point deities are King Natakamani and Kandake Amanitore. Among the well-established duties of the king was the maintenance of the temple as insurance of cosmic order. This is signified by the "lifting" of the heavens, as is the hope that the deity might inhabit its cult image in the temple. Thus the inscriptions accompanying Natakamani and Amanitore read: "Stay, stay on the great throne, Isis, mistress of the Underworld, like the living sun-disk in the horizon, in that you let your son Natakamani remain on his throne." "Stay, stay on the great throne, Isis, mistress of the Underworld, as does the moon that grows like an egg in traversing heaven. May it give life to your daughter, Amanitore." The bark stand is also of importance for the decipherment of the Meroitic script. Beside the heads of the two rulers, their throne names are written according to Egyptian custom, while their birth names appear in Meroitic hieroglyphs. The latter also appear, this time in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the caption texts; the object is thus truly bilingual.

Photo and text from the book Sudan: Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile, Dietrich Wildung, 1997, p. 256
Prince Arikankharer Slaying His Enemies, 25-41 A.D.
Meroitic; Naga, Lion Temple: pylon, south pier.
Museum purchase: 1922.145

Contemporary with early imperial Rome, the Meroitic civilization flourished along the fertile banks of the Nile River in the land of Kush in what is now the Sudan. This African dynasty traded not only with Egypt to the north but also with Greece, Rome, and peoples of the Near East. Consequently, official Meroitic art reflects the absorption of external influences adapted to serve local rulers.

Arikankharer belonged to the black royal house of Kush, whose capital was at Meroe. Although the crown prince died before he could come to power, this superbly carved, raised relief shows him as a vigorous, victorious conqueror. Behind him floats a female Winged Victory, brushing away flies, while between his legs a vicious dog mutilates a fallen enemy. The prince's father is King Natakamani. Distinctly Meroitic in style and detail are the compact proportions, round head, curly hair, oversized eyes, flabby neck, and broad shoulders of the prince as well as the portrayal of fear in the faces of the vanquished. The body is shown with the imperial stride, and with the "smiting the ememy" pose which were found in other Meroitic archological sites.Worcester Art Museum, Maine
The temple of Amon (1st cent. BC/ 1st cent. AD).

Altar with inscription of King Natakamani and Queen Amanitore. Both are written in Meroitic hieroglyphs.

The figures at the top to the left is the goddess Meret and next to her is the figure of the king.

Photo from: Polish Academy of Sciences and the Archaeological Museum in Poznañ.

Statuette of a Kushite King
Copper alloy, plaster, gold leaf
Tabo, Argo Island, Court of the Great Temple
Kushite (Meroitic)

Sudan National Museum 24705

This copper-alloy statuette of an unidentified Kushite king was discovered at Tabo on Argo Island within the court of the Great Temple in a pit. The figure has a constricted narrow waist, broad shoulders and erect carriage, and is stepping forward purposefully with arms bent as if engaged in motion. Icono-graphic elements of the costume indicate that this individual was a king. He is clothed in a kilt with sandals on his feet, and wears armlets and a collar over which sits a necklace of three ram-headed pendants. On his head is a Kushite cap of tight curls with diadem and double uraeus on the front signifying kingship. Streamers or ribbons from the headgear trail down his back.

The armlets are similar in appearance to those worn by Natakamani in reliefs found at Naqa (Maystre 1986. fig. 38). Gold, representing the king's divine flesh, still remains on parts of the face, neck, hands, chest and kilt, and the eyes were inlaid. Gilding was applied over plaster. Small holes, visible on the legs, kilt and arms, enabled plaster to adhere to the copper-alloy surface.

He wears an archer's thumb-ring on his right hand while two bracelets adorn his left arm. It has been suggested that his left hand once held a bow and that this statue depicts the king as an archer (Maystre 1986, 53-4; Wildung 1997, 244). These weapons also may be interpreted as insignia of the ruler and could represent his military leadership. This is the largest copper-alloy statue discovered in the Sudan thus far and currently it has no parallels.


Sudan Ancient Treasures, Derek A. Welsby (2004)