We’ve all learned in our History classes that the cradles of civilization began in places where rivers flowed abundantly, as the soil beside these rivers were at their most fertile. As a refresher, there are at least four rivers that held the beginnings of life: the Tigris-Euphrates River in Mesopotamia, the Indus River in the Indian sub-continent, the Yellow River in China, and the Nile River in Egypt.
Asians can proudly boast three of these sites as having culminated in their beloved continent. The one lone site that sits outside Asia is the Nile River in Egypt and it has captured the imagination of many, not just because of its rich history, but because of the number of treasures that lie within and beneath it. The Nile is touted as the longest river in the world and runs through ten other countries besides Egypt. And deep in the confines of Dangeil in Sudan, among other places, a 2,000 year old cemetery was discovered and the artifacts that emerged from that excavation were of true historical significance.
10 Semi-triangular shaped tombs
These oddly-shaped holes led into tombs that were underground, which was something unusual during a time where pyramids were built to be mausoleums, and they were discovered in 2002. The tombs had no structures on the surface and the treasures that lay within them gave historians and archaeologists an idea of roughly when the kingdom existed and the customs it practiced. The 2,000 year old kingdom was known as Kush and like most civilizations of its time, flourished by the banks of a river; in this case, the Nile. Excavations in the area have been ongoing in the hopes of finding even more hidden artifacts.
9 “Evil eye” box (faience box)
There’s a reason why one of the most valuable treasures discovered was bestowed the nickname “evil eye” box. A faience box in pastel hews of blue and yellow, said object was decorated with two large stones that were said to represent two eyes. The ancient Kushites believed the box to be a key protector from evil and a symbol of what’s otherwise known in Egyptian mythology as the Eye of Horus, an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power, and sublime health.
8 Silver ring
A silver ring with the image of a horned deity was found amidst the treasures, which was further proof that the Kushites believed in burying valuable items with their dearly departed, so as to ensure that they be well provided for in the afterlife. Experts believe that the silver ring depicted the Egyptian god Amun, who was represented as having the head of a ram. During this time, silver was considered as rare as gold and the silver ring was believed to have been used as a seal stamp on wet clay.
7 Party tray with seven bowls
Considered a vastly unique discovery, the party tray was unlike anything any expert had discovered before. It was made up of seven bowls molded together with the seventh bowl in the center of the tray, surrounded by the six. Historians believe the tray was used for food, containing up to seven variants (one for each bowl), to boot. It’s more than likely that there was actually food placed in each container when the tray was buried with its owner, depicting the belief that actual sustenance, and not just treasures, were to be carried on to the afterlife with the corpse’s spirit.
6 Pottery beer jars
Apparently, the departed not just needed food in the next life, but drinks too! Large pottery beer jars were found and in abundance too, in cemetery. They were discovered lined up in rows of three and six jars. Experts believe that the jars would be filled with beer made of sorghum, a type of plant in the grass family that’s normally grown in warm climates, such as almost all the regions that the Nile runs through.
One tomb contained with its remains some arrowheads, indicating that its inhabitant was a revered archer in his time. This seemed to be another custom in the ancient civilizations; that is, to bury a significant symbol of the person’s profession in his tomb. And this practice was made more significant when it came to archers because archery was a most revered field back then. Ancient wielders of the bow and arrow were greatly respected by kings and queens, many of whom were archers themselves, as was the Kushnite god Apedemak or “god of war.” He, too, was depicted as an archer.
4 Archer’s noose
Aside from arrowheads, the tomb also contained a stone ring, otherwise known as an archer’s noose, further solidifying evidence of the person’s profession when he was alive. The ring adorned his thumb, thumb rings being closely associated with archery, as the rings would be used to draw back the bowstring, take aim, and fire the arrow. Many persons of royalty also donned stone rings when they were found in their resting places, indicating that the Kushite kingdom was certainly well-known for their archery skills.
3 Sunken port city of Thonis-Heracleion
In 2013, an ancient Egyptian port (and eventual maritime graveyard) about a mile from the mouth of the Nile River was unearthed. Called Thonis-Heracleion, the port served as the gateway to Egypt in 1,000 BC and was once one of the most prosperous hubs in the Mediterranean. Today, it’s considered one large ship graveyard, where ships seemed to have been deliberately sunk, but for unknown reasons. The ships contained beautifully preserved items, such as anchors, coins, and other treasures of immense worth.
2 Treasures in King Tut’s Tomb
One of the most famous tourist and historical sites in Egypt is the Valley of Kings, which lies on the west bank of the Nile. In said valley was found the burial sites of ancient Egyptian kings and in their tombs were found a myriad of treasure, as these valuables were a tribute to the deceased’s high position in society. The most noteworthy discovery was King Tut’s tomb, which contained several chambers that contained more than 200 pieces of precious jewels made from gold, silver, and valuable stones in different colors.
1 Granite Statue of Sekhmet
The ancient city of Thebes was a mecca of some of the most valuable objects in the world, for treasure hunters and archaeologists alike. Today known as Luxor, the city is now a popular tourist destination and lies on either side of the Nile. Many of the artifacts found in Thebes have since been placed in museums around the world, including statues made of granite. One such figure is the statue of Sekhmet, the Egyptian warrior goddess depicted as a human body with the head of a lioness. There are still at least 300 statues of the same quality standing in the temple of Mut at Kranak.