The earliest tombs in the cemetery were built in a row on the central summit of the site. Their superstructures have the shape of tumuli, i.e. mounds of earth which cover small subterranean burial pits. The burials probably date from the 9th century BC. Later generations started to erect Egyptian-style pyramids over the burial chambers, aligning their tombs in two rows south of the oldest part of the cemetery.
Kurru contains the tombs of the four Kushite rulers who reigned as the pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty over Egypt: Piye, Shabaqo, Shibitqo and Tanwetamani. Their pyramids are larger than the earlier ones and their burial tracts are more substantial with a sloping passage roofed with stone slabs which lead to the actual burial chambers.
The burial tract of Tanwetamani, whose pyramid has almost completely vanished, preserves rich painted decoration. It is largely oriented on Egyptian models and shows the revival of the king and his transition into the afterworld guided by several deities. The tomb of Tanwetamani's mother, Qalhata, which is situated in a separate section of the cemetery reserved for royal consorts and other members of the royal family, has similar decoration.
Since 2003, Kurru has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage serial property "Jebel Barkal and the sites of the Napatan region".
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