"Bejrawiya or Begrawiya or Bijrawiya" Meroe by uglyscot

Meroe Travel Guide: 47 reviews and 167 photos

Meroe- putting the record straight

The word Meroe has several different meanings according to one archaeologist, name now forgotten. It refers to a period in Sudan's history dating from about 900 BC -35 AD: The Kingdom of Meroe, which stretched from between the 5th and 6th cataracts.
It also refers to the Royal City of Meroe just outside Shendi, and pyramids of Meroe nearby which are actually at Bejrawiya. So, I put my pictures under Shendi, until I discovered others have put theirs under Meroe, so I'm joining them.
This must not be confused with the modern town of Merowe which lies on the bend of the Nile, opposite Karima [VT Kuraimah]. It is here that the pyramids and tombs of Barkal, Nuri and EL-Kurru stand.

Leaving Shendi, it is a short drive to reach the pyramids. In the past you had to drive across the railway line and by plantations. But now with the new Khartoum -Atbara- Haya-Port Sudan road you can drive straight from Khartoum without entering Shandi. There in the desert , on a narrow range of elevated land the pyramids stand. They are like a row of decapitated dunce's caps, or a set of rotten teeth. The oldest of these pyramids were built on the southern spur and on the northern spur at the highest elevation, and later rulers were forced to built further down. Most of the pyramids have lost their tops, as the adventurer Ferlini thought treasure would be discovered in them, because one of the pyramids did have gold hidden near the top.

In all there are 223 pyramids in the Sudan, far more than in Egypt.These can be found as mentioned above at Nuri, EL-Kurru , Barkal and Begrawiya.
Here at Begrawia/Meroe were buried over 40 kings and queens. The tombs are underground, and above are pyramids built of stone blocks in stepped horizontal courses. Most have a slope of about 70 degrees, far steeper than those of Egypt. So they look tall and narrow, though vary from 6 -30 metres in height. In front of some of the pyramids at the base can be found an Egyptian-like offering temple or chapel, shaped like pylons, and with engraved pictures of the royal occupant and gods. The walls show representations of the mummification of the deceased which was covered with jewellery and placed in a wooden coffin.
A number have been reconstructed out of concrete and painted.
One of the best is N21.

Across the road to the west is the Western cemetery where there are more pyramids. Their situation is not so striking, nor are there as many. We just drove to them and round the enclosure's wire fence as it was getting late.

Since my earlier visit 10 years ago, a lot of changes have taken place, not just in the ease of getting there. The pyramids have been encroached on by huge sand dunes. There had been some signs when we were last there, but now it is a big problem. More chapels and small pyramids have been restored. Nomads are now offering camel rides, and becoming as persistent as those in Cairo. Instead of a couple of little boys trying to sell mud models of birds, there are now men and women with tables or sacks on which they spread their wares : model pyramids carved from sandstone, small lion statues, old silver and bronze, beads and necklaces, daggers, coins from the 1970s , and even the Mahdia at a price SDG 70, stones and pebbles and a man may whisper to you to come and look as he pulls a scarab or amulet from his inside waistcoat pocket. Genuine? Probably not, though even if the article is no t, he is probably descended from someone who did carve the original genuine items.
So far the price of the models are quite low and make a nice souvenir.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:ancient site
  • Cons:still relatively unknown
  • In a nutshell:a mystical timeless place
  • Last visit to Meroe: Feb 1998
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (11)

Travelogues (1)

Comments (7)

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Jul 23, 2009 at 8:54 PM

    Thanks Shane for the fascinating information of Sudanese pyramids. I also get crazy when people derespect these ancient treasures. Good photographs.

  • awladhassan's Profile Photo
    Dec 17, 2008 at 7:29 AM

    This is a site I must try and visit. Your page is very informative.

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Nov 28, 2008 at 2:18 PM

    Red pyramids with a blue decoration ! Wow ! This is so different from what we see nowadays that I must adjust to that amazing sight! The name of Meroe was familiar but it is good to have photos to figure it as it looks for real.

  • GuthrieColin's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2008 at 9:43 AM

    Excellent Page! Certainly this is a part of Nubian history that should be revered and respected. Than you for displaying the mystique of this site so well.

  • yurxlnc's Profile Photo
    Mar 23, 2008 at 1:03 AM

    I hope your ankle didn't swell up even more with all the climbing we did. I never tire of visiting this place it's magical.

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Mar 7, 2008 at 1:12 PM

    Such a pity I couldn't visit Meroe in 2004, but I hope I will do some day. Till then I am happy to look at your pictures and to read your interesting writings.

  • evaanna's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2008 at 1:29 PM

    Fascinating site, I wonder how much of the destruction was due to time and weather conditions and how much was the work of vandals. The ancient carvings are just great, unlike the modern graffiti.


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