A team of archaeologists announced the discovery
in 2007 of a huge ancient gold processing centre and a graveyard
along the River Nile in modern northern Sudan.
They were territories within the kingdom of Kush,
otherwise known as Nubia, which existed between 785 BC to around AD
350. Scholars said the finds showed that the empire was much bigger
than had previously been thought, and that it rivalled ancient
The archaeologists were racing to dig up the Hosh
el-Geruf area, some 362 kilometres from the capital, Khartoum, before
the Merowe dam flooded the area in 2008. The dam was due to create
a lake one hundred and fifty kilometres long and three kilometres
wide, forcing some 50,000 people from their homes.
Nubia was renowned for its gold deposits, according
to Geoff Emberling of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute,
as published by National Geographic News. Even now, panning for gold
was a traditional activity in the area.
Ancient Egypt conquered Kush (Nubia) around 2500 BC,
proving that a kingdom existed by this time. This would seem to be
the same land as that of the kingdom of Punt or Put which is sometimes
described as being known as Libya in Greek texts. However, the Greeks
used 'Libya' to describe a broad sweep of the North African
Instead, Punt apparently lay to the south-east of
Egypt, making either Nubia or the Arabian peninsula more likely as
its location. This was the land of which Egypt lost control at the
start of the Third Intermediate Period in 1075 BC, but during that
period of domination they took hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds
of gold each year in tribute.
The new discoveries showed that ancient Kush extended
for up to 1200 kilometres along the River Nile. Near the gold processing
centre, the archaeologists found some ninety graves.
They found one laughably tiny gold bead in the burials,
but that was the only gold to be discovered, according to Mr Emberling.
It seems certain that the gold was not used locally. Very likely it was
for the benefit of the ruler and his circle in Kerma, 362 kilometres
upstream from Hosh el-Geruf.