Kingdom of Kerma

Kingdom of Kerma , Yam , Kush, (2500-1500 B.C.) was a Nubian kingdom centered in the town of Kerma, between the third and fourth cataract, in Upper Nubia. Lower Nubia was referred to as Wawat. Kerma was related to C Group Culture. The kingdom was conquered by Egypt in 1500 BC and became Egyptianized, incorporated into the Egyptian Empire of the New Kingdom.  Under Kashta, the Kerman Kingdom was re-incarnated as the Kushite Empire. Kerma was first referred to as Yam by the Egyptians and later Kush.

Kerman Culture and Architecture

The Western Deffufa

Kerman culture is almost indistinguishable from C-Group Culture. Kerman culture was marked by distinct pottery. Pottery was thinned wall with black bands at the top. Kerman pottery tended to be more polished than C-Group Culture.

In graves, bodies were laid on their right side in a contracted position, facing north. Pottery, personal objects, and sacrificial rams were burried with individuals. Graves were filled with soil into rounded mound structures--tumulus. Stones were laid along the edge of the tumulus. Cattle skulls were laid on the south side of graves.


Kerman History can be divided into four periods: Early Kerma Period(3000 BC), Middle Kerma Period (2055-1650), Classic Kerma (1700-1550) , and Late Kerma (1500-1100). 

Early Kerma

The Early Kerma Period tools in graves were simple and graves small. Some pottery were placed inside graves but most were left outside on top. Simple four pole chapel began to appear. In the latter part of Early Kerma, bronze mirrors, sacrificed animals, beads and jewellery, and larger graves were excavated, sign of rising wealth, especially in Sai. The Kerman Kingdom controlled just Upper Nubia.

Middle Kerma(2055-1650)

Middle Kerma corresponds to Dynasty 11, 12, and 13. During this period, Lower Nubia( 1st, 2nd, and midway between 2nd and 3rd cataract) was conquered by Egypt. Egypt began to build giant forts. The town of Kerma became more fortified, with numerous domesticated structure. The Western Deffufa was built becoming a center of religious significance. Chapels and workshop began occupying the town. Large mud buildings with central courtyards were being built. One unique structure, with rounded roof, with rounded mud walls and wooden columns inside and outside, providing support for the large roof, was constructed. Graves became larger, with tumulus of 30 to 40 m. Some graves served as secondary graves surrounding a main central tomb.

Classic Kerma (1700-1550) 

Classic Kerman Large Tomb or Tumulus

Classic Kerma corresponds to the the 13th Dynasty of Egypt and the Second Intermediate Period. During this period, Kerma ruled Lower and Upper Nubia. Kush, during this period, attacked Upper Egypt according to inscription by the governor of El Kab, Sobeknakht and was able to bring back trophies, Egyptian artifacts, burried with Kushite kings. 

Kerma reached its greatest extent, during this period. A new type of palace was built, as replacement possibly to the large circular structure in Middle Kerma. In its center was a large open air throne room with massive pillars. The religious site in the southwest was converted to a cementary. During this period, some of the largest royal tombs were constructed--Tomb KXIII, KXVIII, KV. The first of these tombs were KXVI, whose tumuli was 70 m, with 30 supplementary graves surrounding the center. After the latter, Tombs KX, KIV, and KIII were even more enhanced. Temples/chapels of mudbricks were added to Tomb KX and KIII. The chapel/temple of KIII is referred to as the Eastern Deffufa. Pottery during this period had a great polish finish and shine, almost metallic in quality. They were produced in Kilns in the southwest location of the town.


Gold was a major product of trade with Egypt. Kerma controlled the gold mines between the third and fourth cataract. She was at a major junction point of trade routes leading to Egypt. Trade routes from the western Libyan oasis verged into her land. She was connected to the Red Sea trade routes with caravans from the southeast, including the land of Punt, and the southwest caravan route from Darfur and Kordofan.

List of Kerman Kings

King Awawa (2000-1850 BC) Kerma kingdom
King Nedjeh (1650-1550 BC) Kerma Kingdom

tags:Kerman Culture sudan