A densely concentrated collection of 35 small pyramids, along with some graves, has been uncovered at a site in Sudan called Sedeinga
, LiveScience.com reported Wednesday.
Researchers with the French Archaeological Mission to Sedeinga discovered the pyramids between 2009 and 2012 and estimate that the structures date back 2,000 years to a time when the Kush kingdom flourished in the North African country of Sudan.
"The density of the pyramids is huge," Vincent Francigny, a member of the discovery team and a research associate with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told LiveScience.com. "Because [the building of the pyramids] lasted for hundreds of years, they built more, more, more pyramids and after centuries they started to fill all the spaces that were still available in the necropolis."
Francigny and team leader Claude Rilly published an article detailing the results of their 2011 field season in the most recent edition of the journal Sudan and Nubia.
The close proximity of the pyramids, traditionally used as funerary structures in neighboring Egypt, surprised researchers, who said the 2011 field season yielded the discovery of 13 pyramids that occupied just 5,381 sq. feet, an area only slightly larger than that of an NBA basketball court, according to LiveScience.com.
The largest pyramids unearthed are 22 feet wide at the base, and the smallest, likely used for the burial of a child, are just 30 inches long.
The tops of the monuments were damaged over time, Francigny told LiveScience.com.
The graves next to the pyramids were plundered for the most part by the time experts got to them, but researchers found a few skeletal remains and artifacts.
An offering table was also next to one grave, which depicted the goddess Isis and the jackal-headed god Anubis, along with an inscription written in Meroitic language. It appeared to be dedicated to a woman named "Aba-la," which may be a nickname for "grandmother," Rilly wrote in the journal article.
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