Kerma, at the southern end of the Third Cataract, was the centre of the major Bronze Age culture in the Middle Nile valley. The site comprises an urban agglomeration, a vast cemetery and a Pharaonic town. Read more ...
2500 to 1500 BC
The Kerma culture, also known as the 'first African civilisation' south of Egypt, is the main Bronze Age culture in the Middle Nile region. It developed from local Neolithic cultures, at the same time as Egypt took the path to statehood about 3000 BC. The region of present-day Kerma became the centre of this culture, due to the fertility of its wide alluvial plain and the easy access to the hinterlands.
The origins of the town site of Kerma date back to about 2500 BC. They comprise palace-like structures, elite houses as well as specialised workshops and a fortified city wall. The centre of the agglomeration is marked by the so-called Western Defuffa, a monumental mudbrick building which seems to have incorporated the main temple.
During the Kerma period, arts and crafts flourished. Evidence for bronze casting was found in the temple precinct at the foot of the Western Deffufa. As in other Bronze Age cultures, many resources went into the lavish furnishings of the elite tombs. The main cemetery at Kerma is thought to be the largest burial ground in the Middle Nile region, comprising more than 30,000 tombs. Its largest structures are several tumuli of up to 90 metres in diameter which held the burials of the kings and queens of the later Kerma period.
Smaller Kerma settlements and cemeteries are known from all over the Middle Nile region.