Kawa (Sudan)

Kawa ( ancient Egyptian: Gempaaton ) is an ancient religious center and a settlement in Upper Nubia in Sudan, whose heyday was in earlier Cushitic time. The entire settlement time is roughly indicated for the period 14th century BC to the 4th century AD.

Geographical location

The site is situated in the Nubian Desert on the eastern side of the Nile between the 3rd and 4th cataract, on the opposite bank and three kilometers south of Dongola. The sandy desert soil enough at this point to the Nile, which otherwise in its course forms a river oasis and allows the irrigation of fertile farmland.


The ancient Egyptian name of Kawa " Gempaaton " ( " Gem- Aten " ) points out that the place was already founded under Akhenaten ( reign to 1351-1334 ), who built a temple for his new Aton cult. All buildings of faith reformer were destroyed shortly after his death and the earlier worship of Amun was reintroduced. The oldest remains in the city are a small, built of Tutankhamun for Amun end of the 14th century temple (Temple A).

A cemetery of Kerma culture from the period 1750 to 1550, just northeast of the town, however, suggests that may have possibly already found an older settlement here. Perhaps the area for the Kerma period (2500-1450) was settled.

After the end of the Egyptian New Kingdom, the place around the 12th century BC gradually loses importance. The construction began again under Shabaka ( reigned about 716-702 ), who built here a Anukis consecrated shrine. Taharqa renewed and enlarged the Temple of Amun 684-680 (Temple T). From about the 5th century BC to the 1st century AD, no evidence of settlements have been found. After the Roman advance 23 BC to the capital Napata was Nubia Roman province and was told by technical innovations an economic boom, but Kawa remained as at most small settlement.


In the napatäischen time ( before the focus of the Kushite Empire shifted to Meroe ) was built apart from the capital Napata in Kawa and Nuri most. This goes a archaeobotanical analysis of plant residues, most of which have been dated to the 8th to the 5th century BC. The Temple of Amun was one of the largest Kushite temples and the center for the King's ceremonies, which are reported in the long royal inscriptions of Harsijotef, Nastasen and Arikamaninote. After the coronation in Napata, the king had to travel on his throne travel to three other temple sites, first stop was Kawa. This was followed by the Amun Temple of Tabo on the island of Argo, and finally the Temple of Amun- Sanam.

The foundation stone of the temple of Amun was best obtained at the time of the excavation of all the temples Taharqas. Reliefs and painted scenes on the temple show Taharqa, as he triumphantly trampled his enemies. In Kawa stelae inscriptions, the most important Taharqas were detected: five stelae show his Frömmmigkeit, Taharqa reports on events in the distant Egypt, about his coronation and about himself as a god-king, whose father Amun -Re at Karnak. A stele mentions how he moved to Egypt with 20 years, the beginning of adulthood, of Nubia. With the design of the temple artists were busy from Memphis. Therefore, some of the reliefs show the style of Egyptian grave temples of the pharaohs of the 5th and 6th dynasty at Abusir and Saqqara. On the representation found in the temple of Amun -Re of God is represented by a ram's head with twisted horns. Model was the Egyptian god of the Nile Khnum, from which the Amun-Re accompanying goddesses Satis and Anuket were taken. The temple was decorated even in later times further.


The settlement area was comprised of about 40 acres. The thick walls over a meter of the temple of Amun were listed of hewn stone. Skip to main entrance led a procession road. Located near the Eastern Palace and the building G 1 were: both were dedicated to multi-room temple and also Amun. G 1 was like the temple of Amun to the Nile, the Eastern Palace was oriented to the south. On the southern outskirts was in the building A 1, which consisted of mud brick, and is described as a shrine, excavated on a stone floor an altar on which a painted inscription of Taharqa was attached.

The houses were made of adobe brick and were found looted. About one kilometers northeast of the city cemetery with over 1000 graves were investigated. A part of them were tumuli and mastabas whose stairways are already replenished by sand storms. Three kilometers south of Kawa is a small cemetery of Meroitic period. There are also medieval potsherds were found.


The first excavations conducted in 1929 by Francis Llewellyn Griffith until 1931 from Oxford Excavation Committee, 1935-1938 Walter Bryan Emery excavated and Laurence Kirwan. Both teams were limited to the excavation of the temple and the palace, dig without the urban settlement in the area. Derek A. Welsby 1993-1995 started for the British Museum with the surface investigation and partially exposing the Allotment ( in the two areas B and Z) and the cemeteries. In three visible on the surface mud walls he found a 6.6 x 4.3 meter large rectangle, which he identified as a brick kiln. It is an unusual shape, kilns were generally round. 1997-1998 Welsby could expand as head of the Sudan Archaeological Research Society 's research program. The excavations were completed around 2001. By the summer storms that stir up the soft sandy soil, most of the excavated foundations of sand are blowing.