Ancient Round Temples Discovered In Sudan: Architecture Unique To The World

Archaeologists have unearthed three ancient temples in Sudan that are unlike any other buildings on Earth. The temples' basic structural difference is what makes them unique: They are round. And the lead archaeologist at the site believes that the discovery will alter the way the world thinks about Africa.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported this week that veteran archaeologist Charles Bonnet, who has worked extensively in Sudanese archaeology, insists that the three newly announced temples are unlike anything that has ever been discovered.

"This architecture is unknown... there is no example in central Africa or in the Nile Valley of this architecture."
Although the round and oval temples were discovered last year, the structures have been dated from 1,500 to 2,000 BCE and are located near the famed archaeological site of Kerma in northern Sudan. In fact, they were found only a few hundred meters from Kerma in a place called Dogi Gel ("Red Hill"), an area that Bonnet and his archaeological team has been excavating for decades.

The 83-year-old expert marveled at the uniqueness of the discovery.

"At Kerma the architecture is square or rectangular shaped... and here just a kilometer away we have round structures. We don't know of many round temples in the world... we don't have examples to compare."
Bonnet told AFP that researchers have found Africa's ancient past a mystery. The latest finds should offer insights into that mysterious past, he believes, especially since the structures appear to have no analogue. The three round temples are even distinct from the two major architectures of the region -- Egyptian and Nubian.

"Nobody knows this architecture... It's completely new," he said of the site's temples.

"There are no roots today in Africa and we have to find these roots... this is the secret of Africa."
Bonnet has worked the Sudan sites for over 50 years and has been instrumental in promoting the now accepted position that ancient Sudan was autonomous of Egypt. He has dug into the past at Kerma, an ancient Nubian kingdom that flourished from 2,500 to 1,500 BCE, and uncovered a separate history (where, before, it was accepted that the Nubian kingdoms were satellites to the mighty Egyptian states). Through his work, such as the unearthing of the seven "black pharaohs" (granite statues of Sudan's Nubian rulers) not far from the banks of the Nile, it was revealed that Nubia was home to rich deposits of gold, ivory, and ebony.

Deffufa castle at Kerma in Sudan
The newly discovered round temples were found just a few hundred feet from the ruins of Kerma (shown here). [Image by hecke61/Shutterstock]

But Bonnet now believes there is so much more to the story. His team also uncovered "enormous fortifications" at Dogi Gel.

"That means this part of the world was defended by a coalition, probably of the king of Kerma with people coming from Darfur and from central Sudan" to stand against the ancient Egyptians, who were always positioning themselves to control trade and commerce in central Africa.

Bonnet says he is puzzled as to why the Egyptians, who colonized Nubia, would keep and maintain the round temples, but it appears that they did, whatever their reasons.

He is also convinced that there is more buried in Sudan's Nile Valley, that evidence of a number of kingdoms is still to be uncovered. He even predicts that Sudan just might give birth to its own specialized branch of archaeology.

"We have here extraordinary history of the world," he said, "maybe after some years we will have Sudanology as strong as Egyptology."

Map of Sudan in Africa
Archaeologists are beginning to find a rich and varied history for ancient Sudan, quite apart from its more famous northern neighbor, Egypt. [Image by dovla982/Shutterstock]

That particular specialization, Egyptology, saw headlines in December when, according to the Inquisitr, researchers from the University of Birmingham unearthed an encroachment wall in the northern part of the West Aswan cemetery at Qubbet el-Hawa. It is believed that the wall might lead to undiscovered burial tombs, perhaps even those of pharaohs.

[Featured Image by hecke61/Shutterstock]