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SEDEINGA, Sudan — Dozens of pyramids discovered at a site in northern Sudan show links between the Kingdom of Kush that once thrived there and ancient Egypt.
The 35 pyramids, small in size and dating back 2,000 years, were unearthed by archaeologists who were surprised by how densely concentrated they were: they found 13 of the pyramids in a complex about the size of a basketball court.
They range in size from 22 feet wide to 30 inches wide for the smallest, which was likely built for the death of a child.
Interesting to archaeologists was the manner in which they were built. Some of the pyramids were built using cross-braces to connect the corners to an inner circle, a method seen in only one known pyramid outside of the Sudanese site.
Vincent Francigny, a research associate at the Museum of Natural History, told LiveScience one possibility for the unique structure is that when pyramid building grew popular in Sudan, it was combined with an architectural tradition called tumulus construction, giving rise to the circles within the pyramids.
"What we found this year is very intriguing," he said. "A grave of a child and it was covered by only a kind of circle, almost complete, of brick."
Oh Isis! Oh Osiris!
It is Aba-la.
Make her drink plentiful water;
Make her eat plentiful bread;
Make her be served a good meal.
Some of the graves were discovered to hold more than one body. It appeared that rather than having been buried together, the bodies had been buried years apart, as if the community had run out of burial sites.
Many of the sites had been plundered, and the pyramids themselves were partially destroyed by a camel caravan that ran through the area. Archaeologists did discover some artifacts, though, including a necklace placed around the neck of a child before burial and vases with depictions of ancient gods.
The architecture of the pyramids and depictions of gods including Bes and Isis led researchers to believe the Kingdom of Kush in existence at the time had more in common with ancient Egypt, which it borders, than was previously thought. The team's findings were published in the most recent edition of the journal Sudan and Nubia.