The Jebel Barkal Amun sanctuary

Jebel (var. Gebel) Barkal, called “Pure Mountain” by the Egyptians, is an isolated butte on the right (north) bank of the Nile on the SW edge of modern Karima, Sudan, 354 km NNW of Khartoum. Located just below the Fourth Cataract, the hill marked the upper limit of pharaonic settlement on the Nile following Egypt’s conquest of Nubia (Kush) about 1500 BCE. Here the Egyptians founded a frontier town called Napata and a sanctuary to their state god that would become the most important in Nubia. The Egyptians believed that the hill was the residence of a primeval form of Amun of Karnak at Thebes, 1260 km downstream. In their minds, the mountain was both a creation site and a rediscovered source of Egyptian kingship. This “fact” was visibly “proven” by the mountain’s pinnacle, 75 m high, in whose natural form they perceived, among other things, a colossal royal uraeus wearing the White Crown. During the New Kingdom, the pharaohs apparently used this feature as evidence to prove to the Nubians that the god in the mountain, from the beginning of time, had intended them, his “bodily sons,” to rule Kush as part of Upper Egypt.

The Jebel Barkal Amun sanctuary description

Later, after the disunification of Egypt, a line of native Kushite rulers emerged here (ca. 750 BC), who revived this tradition and asserted their own claim, as the god’s new “sons,” to rule “Upper Egypt” – and ultimately all of Egypt – as its 25th Dynasty. A century later, after the Assyrian expulsion of the Kushite kings from Egypt, their successors in Sudan, for nearly another millennium, continued to attribute their kingship to the Amun of Jebel Barkal and to make this site that of their primary coronations and royal burials.
The Jebel Barkal sanctuary (i.e. that part of worked by Reisner and continued by the team led by Dr. Timothy Kendall, director of this publication project) includes a remarkable number of buildings – 12 temples, 4 kiosks, 3 palaces – dating from the Egyptian New Kingdom (ca. 1450 BCE) to the Late Meroitic Period (ca. late first century CE). The publication will provide complete publication of each, with chapters on the site’s geology, history, religious and political significance.