RETURNING to Africa, I will focus on three Sub-Saharan cultures, in which the bright star Sirius served as a timekeeper—the Nubian Kingdom of Kush (or Cush), the Borana of Kenya and Ethiopia and the Serer of the Senegambia region in Western Africa.
But first, for the sake of perspective, let me re-affirm the racial identity of the ancient Egyptians, relying, this time, on the British Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge.
“Everything we know of them (the ancient Egyptians) proves that they possessed all the characteristics of the African race, and especially of that portion of it, which lives in that great tract of country which extends from ocean to ocean, right across Africa, and is commonly known as the Sudan, i.e., the country par excellence of the Blacks”.
Budge, who actually went to live in Sudan, cited many similarities between Egyptian culture and that of peoples below the Sahara. This though, he averred, does not necessarily mean Sub-Saharan culture was derived from Egypt: But rather, that both peoples are the same.
“Modern Sudani beliefs are identical with those of ancient Egypt,” he wrote, in Osiris And The Egyptian Resurrection, “because the Egyptians were Africans and the modern peoples of the Sudan are Africans.”
Yet the contemporary view, is that, over time, influences flowed back and forth, between ancient Egyptians and their Southern brothers. Pyramid building, for instance, extends from Egypt into the northern Sudan (the country, as distinct from the geographical region).
The Sudanese pyramids, which number 223, are much smaller than the ones in Egypt. They are relics of a civilization known generically as “Kush,” which evolved through three phases—Kerma, Napata and Meroe—between 2400 B.C. and 300 A.D.
Unlike the well-preserved pyramids of Egypt, almost all of the Sudanese structures have been decimated and plundered. In the early 1800s, Giuseppe Ferlini, a young Italian, shattered 40 pyramids, in search of loot, which he sold to museums in Berlin and Munich, Germany.
Nevertheless, archaeologists and cultural astronomers have been able to establish a strong scientific, intellectual and religious affinity between Kush and Egypt. In fact, Nubian Pharaohs from Kush ruled Egypt for a short period in the 6th century B.C.
“Preliminary investigations of maps of the area around Meroe,” note Laurence R. Doyle and Edward W. Frank, in the Encyclopedia of the History of Science, make it plain “that most of the pyramid entrances face close to the direction of the eastern rising of Sirius…”
Writing in the Journal of the History of Astronomy, A. Cesar Gonzalez-Garcia, of Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), reports on the work of an international team of geophysicists, astronomers and astrophysicists, who analysed existing literature, Google Earth satellite maps and data from excavations in Egypt.
“From these works,” Gonzalez-Garcia writes, “we learned about the presence of graf?ti at Meroe suggesting the presence of astronomical instruments, presumably astronomical observations, and even the possibility of an observatory in the precinct of the ancient city.”
A priestly caste, with ties to the Nubian monarchy, diligently observed “the five living stars” which, Gonzalez-Garcia explains, referred to the planets visible to the naked eye (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), as well as, Sothis or Sopdet—the Egyptian name for Sirius.
•To be continued.
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