Nubia and the Mysteries of Kush

Hidden away in the Butana region of northern Sudan lie the ruins of ancient Nubia, an African civilization that rivaled Egypt for centuries. This film documents ongoing excavations that study and preserve the deteriorating remains of the Nubian kingdom of Kush. Interviews with Sudanese, American, and European archaeologists and historians are interwoven with stunning footage from dig sites and graphics that illustrate ancient building designs and techniques. Viewers will encounter Nubian temples, pyramids, writing, and artifacts—as well as fresh perspectives on the flowering of culture, technology, and political power in the ancient Nile Valley.

00:00Copy video clip URL Juneteenth intro.

00:22Copy video clip URL Video and narration begin: “Africa, land of some of the oldest and most majestic civilizations the world has ever known. . .” The narration continues to explain that much is known about ancient Egypt, but that little is known about ancient Nubia (in southern Egypt and northern Sudan). Montage of ancient structures in Egypt/Sudan. 

01:28Copy video clip URL Title card: “Nubia and the Mysteries of Kush” 

01:39Copy video clip URL “The Kingdom of Kush existed from approximately eight-hundred BC to three-hundred-fifty AD, in the region still known as Nubia.” A map of Nubia is shown on screen, as well as ancient structures and art. 

02:35Copy video clip URL Dr. Ali Osman M. Salih, archeologist says “The Nile is eternal to us, it looks eternal, it feels eternal. . .”

03:27Copy video clip URL May Saied, materials scientist, says she would like to identify the kind of technologies and methods or materials used by ancient cultures in Nubia. 

04:13Copy video clip URL Narrator explains that for hundreds of years, the history of Kush was hidden under “shifting sands of time” but in the sixties, due to the construction the S One High Dam on the Nile River, lake Nassar formed and submerged five-thousand kilometers of land. UNESCO archeologists from around the world to excavate as many sites as possible. From the materials excavated, history of Nubian civilization was uncovered. 

05:35Copy video clip URL Dr. Steffen Wenig, archaeologist, shares that the Kingdom of Kush was a culture of its own and that everyday they are learning more about it. Dr. Salah M. Ahmed explains that there are more than thirty groups working on discovering the history of Nubia.  

7:04Copy video clip URL Narrator explains the remains of forty pyramids and chapels crown the city of Meroe in Sudan, which was the political capital of the Kingdom of Kush. “The Kushites began to to build pyramids to honor their dead about eight-hundred years after the last royal pyramid was constructed in Egypt.” 

8:28Copy video clip URL Dr. Friedrich Hinkel, architect, explains that he has been working to reconstruct a pyramid to discover how they were built. In doing this, he discovered a faint carving of the original blueprint of a pyramid, dated two-thousand years old. An animated diagram shows Hinkel’s theory on how the Nubian pyramids were built. 

10:17Copy video clip URL Janice Yellen, art historian, studies the drawings carved into the chapel walls of the Nubian pyramids and chapels. Footage of carvings are shown. Yellen speaks with Marcia Baynes, a teacher, who traveled to the site with two of her students. 

12:35Copy video clip URL Sixty kilometers southwest of Moroe is an area called Musawwarat Es-Sufra, where a large complex of stone buildings and structures lay, known as the Great Enclosure. Dr. Pawel Wolf, archaeologist, speaks about his interest with the civilization around the Great Enclosure. 

15:14Copy video clip URL May Saied and Dr. Wolf look at fragments of pottery from the site. 

16:54Copy video clip URL Discussions of the Kushite language, called Moroetic. 

19:30Copy video clip URL Napita, the capital of Kush, hold ruins of the great temples located at the base of a large mountain called Jebel Barkal. Narrator discusses the mythologies and history of Jebel Barkal and the Kushite Kingdom. 

21:23Copy video clip URL Dr. Timothy Kendall, archaeologist, discusses the temple built to honor the goddess Moot. Narrator discusses how new technology helps scientists visualize structures and other archaeological findings. 

23:45Copy video clip URL The descendants of the Kushites, are the Nubian people living in Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan. Many still practice customs from Ancient Kush. Footage of tribal scars on present-day people are compared to those seen in ancient carvings. 

25:40Copy video clip URL Credits 




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