Royal City Of Napata

The 9th century BCE witnessed the emergence of the second, centralized kingdom within Kush at the capital city of Napata. This kingdom can be divided into two periods, the Napatan and the Meroitic, after their respective capitals. Napata is situated in the region around Gebel Barkal (“sacred mountain”) about 164 miles downstream from the Fourth Cataract. The Napatan rulers forged a powerful kingdom originating in middle or southern Sudan and eventually expanded the kingdom down into Egypt, where they ruled for a century beginning in the mid-8th century BCE.

Sacred mountain, Gebel Barkal

King Taharqa transferred the capital to the Gebel Barkal site and transformed it into the stage for the celebration of past, present and eternal monarchy, and the perpetual recreation of the world. The period during which Gebel Barkal remained the principal political and religious center of the empire is known to students of Kushite Empire as the Napatan period (kingdom). During the 3rd century BCE, for reasons which are far from clear but may well be the result of a dynasty change, the capital was shifted southwards to Meroe, which may have been the principal royal residence for centuries. 

Granite coffin with name of 25th dynasty King Piankhi at Gebel BarkalThe shift of the political center from Napata to Meroe has been associated by many archaeologists with an invasion against Napata, led by the 26th Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Psammetik II at the beginning of the 6th century BCE. However, the main royal cemeteries of Napata remained in use for more than two centuries after the Egyptian invasion.

Ampim, Manu. “History Of African Civilizations, History 110 Course Reader.” Unit 3: Classical African Civilizations (Kush). Oakland, CA: Advancing The Research, 2016. 50-51.

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