Fifty kilometers east of the Nile — a camel or donkey’s journey in ancient times — sits one of the largest ruined sites in Sudan. Today it’s an area of wild and remote desert. But the Wadi Aeateib was once fertile and well watered, and this was the site of an important city in the Kingdom of Meroe.
The remains of three temples greet the traveler who makes the rough desert drive out to visit this site.
The Temple of Amun, founded by King Natakamani, was designed in the Egyptian style, with an outer court and a long colonnade of sandstone rams sitting patiently on pedestals, providing the visitor with a stately and dignified honour guard that doesn’t look the least bit sheepish. This god became the most important in Egyptian theology. In his form of Amun he represents the essential and hidden. And in Ra he represents revealed divinity.
When you’ve finished with the sheep, a short walk west across a dusty flat brings you to the Temple of Apedemak, with its superb engravings of the gods Amun, Horus and Apedemak. Apedemak was the lion-headed warrior god of the Nubians, and this temple is a wonderful illustration of the fusing together of Egyptian and Kushite art.
Finally, right next to the Apedemak temple is a smaller structure built in a Hellenistic style, known as the Roman kiosk. It was believed to have been devoted to the worship of Hathor, an Egyptian goddess who embodied the principles of joy, feminine love and motherhood. The entrance to this structure is Egyptian, but its sides feature Corinthian columns and arched Roman-style windows.
Though this area is now in the middle of the desert, it is far from deserted.
Next to the temples you’ll find a busy well, where a steady procession of nomadic families come to draw water for their animals. The well is a deep one — some 85 meters — and a pair of donkeys pull a long rope around a vast circuit, drawing up the leather and canvas bags, which are then dumped into a system of basins that sends the water to nearby troughs for herds of sheep, and for the odd protesting camel.
The poor donkey must be the most patient animal on earth. It seems to spend it’s entire life either waiting for someone, or being hit with a stick.
Here are a few more photos of the temples and their environment.