A Postcard from the Naqa Temple

Superb engravings still grace the walls of the Temple of Apedemak...

Superb engravings still grace the walls of the Temple of Apedemak…

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.

The Temple of Amun, with its colonnade of rams...

The Temple of Amun, with its colonnade of rams…

Looking towards the crumbling interior of the Temple of Amun...

Looking towards the crumbling interior of the Temple of Amun…

The Lion Temple — Temple of Apedemak — with the Roman kiosk in the foreground...

The Lion Temple — Temple of Apedemak — with the Roman kiosk in the foreground…

The well is a deep one, some 85 meters...

The well is a deep one, some 85 meters…

Animals come to drink at the well — and the sheep men keep pushing the camel away...

Animals come to drink at the well — and the sheep men keep pushing the camel away…

 

Photos ©Tomoko Goto 2013

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Guy Murray says

    Hey Ryan
    Thanks for the pics, have just had a taste of the desert in Dubai recently. And seen quite a few “captive” artefacts in the Louvre. Currently wandering around Languedoc in the south of France, lots of old roman, medieval and even early Greek ruins etc. Bit mind blowing to an Australian whose country only has just over 200yrs of “white man” history. Currently living in a 350 year old house for a month in Florensac. Could easily get used to this travel life
    Regards
    Guy

    • Ryan Murdock says

      Ahh, the Languedoc is a beautiful region. I spent some time there a few years ago in a little town called Sommieres, on the river Vidourle, tracking down the ghost of Lawrence Durrell. I would love to go back. I know what you mean about history – it was like that growing up in Canada too. We have so much natural beauty, but historical remains don’t go back very far. These days I’m living in a small traditional village in Malta, in a 400 year old house that was once the summer home of some archbishop. It still amazes me that there are Roman ruins a block away, prehistoric temples within 5 minutes drive, Phoenician ruins, etc. The travelling life is pretty good eh? 🙂

  2. Guy Murray says

    Yep, gets better and different each day. We were in Sommieres a couple of days ago after hiking up around Pont Du Guard. Malta sounds great from your blogs, the islands in the med have long been a must do for us. So many places and cultures to experience so little time…

    • Ryan Murdock says

      Very cool. I visited the Pont du Gard on that same Durrell-inspired trip. The old auberge on the far side of the river at the top of the hill was the setting for a bacchanalia in one of the Avignon Quintet novels. I guess it was fitting that we were fairly hung over on the morning we arrived lol.

      Definitely add the Mediterranean islands to your list. If I had to choose one region I’d probably say island hopping in Croatia. Malta’s an interesting place to of course. Drop me a line if you get over this way.

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