Because the greatest of all pharaohs was not from Egypt...
The forgotten black pharaohs: They once ruled all of Egypt, but Africa's Khush Pharaohs have been overlooked, says a new show
Channel 4 documentary examines the history of 'Black Pharaohs' living in Kush
Taharqa controlled more territory by volume than any other in Egyptian history
There has been denial that black Africans could build such a powerful kingdom
Lost Pharaohs Of The Nile recounts how Kush flourished from 1,000BC to 350BC
By Harry Wallop For Weekend Magazine
4 October 2019
When you think of pharaohs, does your mind conjure up Tutankhamun and the Valley of the Kings, Cleopatra and the pyramids of Giza? If so, you need to think again.
Because the greatest of all pharaohs was not from Egypt.
He was called Taharqa and came from the Kingdom of Kush in what is now Sudan.
'He ruled everything from what is today Khartoum all the way down the Nile through Egypt to the Mediterranean,' says Pearce Paul Creasman, professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona.
Channel 4 documentary Lost Pharaohs Of The Nile recounts 'Black Pharaohs' living in The Kingdom of Kush including Taharqa (pictured leading a festival)
'The territory he controlled was probably more by volume than at any other time in Egyptian history.'
The story of Taharqa and the other 'Black Pharaohs' from Kush is told in a fascinating Channel 4 documentary, Lost Pharaohs Of The Nile.
They were not the pale-skinned Egyptians we associate with pharaohs, but black Africans.
And they were just as powerful and sophisticated as their northerly neighbours.
The Kingdom of Kush flourished from around 1,000BC to 350BC, more recently than the more famous pharaohs Tutankhamun and Ramses II, who ruled before 1,000BC in Egypt.
During the Kush period, the two kingdoms vied for power, and between about 760BC and 650BC, notably during the reign of Taharqa, the Black Pharaohs controlled all of Egypt and Kush.
Rachael Dann (pictured) of the University of Copenhagen, explores the burial chamber of Queen Qalhata, wife of one of Taharqa's predecessors
Yet they've been overlooked throughout history, and the programme follows historians and archaeologists working in Sudan who are determined to restore their reputation.
'There was persistent denial that black Africans could have built a powerful civilisation worthy of the same attention and respect as Egypt,' says Geoff Emberling, archaeologist at the University of Michigan.
Yet the ancient Kush city of Meroë boasts more pyramids than in all of Egypt.
Taharqa's pyramid is at the royal necropolis of Nuri, and although it has been explored already, there is another pyramid, or a burial chamber deep beneath it, that has yet to be fully explored.
It is completely flooded by the waters of the Nile, and the documentary follows Professor Creasman and his team as they dive to explore what lies beneath the murky waters.
Professor Creasman and his team explore a burial chamber beneath Taharqa's pyramid at the royal necropolis of Nuri. pictured: The Royal Pyramids of Meroe, Kush's third capital
'As far as I am aware no one has dived a tomb anywhere in the world before, and certainly no one has dived a pyramid,' says Professor Creasman.
The first bucket they pulled up brought with it shards of Kush pottery and gold leaf, suggesting great treasures could lie beneath.
Indeed, Prof Creasman is certain there is a sarcophagus with the remains of King Nastasen, who ruled the Kingdom of Kush between 335BC and 315BC.
The professor intends to return next year to find out more.
But he – and all the other experts working in Sudan, including Rachael Dann of the University of Copenhagen, who is exploring the burial chamber of Queen Qalhata, wife of one of Taharqa's predecessors – will have a race against the clock.
There are plans to build hydroelectric dams which could flood important sites, as the building of the Aswan Dam in Egypt in the 1960s caused sites there to be destroyed.
Just as the kingdom of the Black Pharaohs is being rediscovered, much of it could soon be lost.
Lost Pharaohs Of The Nile, 13 October, 8pm, Ch4.