Monday, May 10, 2010

Exhibition Review: Méroé, un empire sur le Nil

Al Ahram Weekly (David Tresilian)

A detailed review of the exhibition.

A spring exhibition at the Louvre in Paris is throwing unexpected light on the ancient history of Sudan, writes David Tresilian

Housed in the temporary exhibition space in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre, Méroé, un empire sur le Nil is a smallish exhibition that might seem almost overawed by its magnificent surroundings. However, appearances are deceptive, and it would be a pity if visitors to Paris were to overlook this exhibition on their itinerary through the Louvre. This is an exhibition that casts real and unexpected light on the ancient history of Sudan. If one had a criticism to make of it, it would only be that it is not larger.

Flourishing between the third century BCE and the fourth century CE and thus coexisting with Ptolemaic and then Roman rule in Egypt, the city of Meroe, the ruins of which are located on the east bank of the Nile a few miles north of Kabushiyah in present-day Sudan, once formed the capital of an empire that stretched northwards to the borders of ancient Egypt and southwards to take in much of what is today central and southern Sudan.

Famous in antiquity for its war-like queens, four of whom are known to have reigned between the first century BCE and the first century CE, Meroe was the successor state of the ancient Kushite kingdom, whose so-called Black Pharoahs once ruled both Egypt and Sudan in the 7th century BCE.

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