Just days before parts of Europe entered lockdown, Italian photojournalist Alessio Mamo traveled to Sudan, where he managed to set eyes on a sight that many of the country's own people haven't been able to see: the pyramids of Meroe, a city that served as the Kingdom of Kush's capital. They number about 200, which is far more than are found in all of Egypt (Science Alert puts Egypt's number at 138.) The Meroe pyramids sit on the Nile's east bank, roughly a 4-hour drive from the capital, Khartoum. Though they are far shorter than the pyramids at Giza—Mamo notes the Great Pyramid stands 455 feet, versus 30 to 100 feet here—they functioned as royal burial sites as well. And Sudan is now hoping that the 2019 end of Omar Hassan al-Bashir's 30-year dictatorship will open up this archaeological wonder to the world. That is, if flooding doesn't cause ruin.
Smithsonian reported in September on the Nile's record water levels, caused by heavier than usual rains during the country's June-to-October rainy season. Meroe is located only 1,650 feet from the banks of the Nile. That was once fortuitous: Ozy reports that thanks to the positioning, ancient "irrigated farms flourished next to lucrative gold and iron mines." Mamo notes that wind and sand erosion are a threat as well. Still, in a piece for the New York Times, he describes walking "alone among the buildings, including a temple devoted to Apedemak, a lion-headed warrior god worshiped in Nubia. On the opposite side of the site, ram-shaped sculptures accompanied us to the entrance of the Amun temple, built around the first century AD and considered one of the most important archaeological structures and tourist attractions in Sudan." (Read more Pyramids stories.)