Finding ancient Egyptian scrolls is a dream for many archaeologists and historians. But none of them would think to look for them in Kenya.
Thirty years ago, that’s what happened. Nineteen ancient Egyptian scrolls were discovered on the slopes of Mt. Kenya.
Why were they there? They were three thousand miles out of place. Who brought them there? The archaeologists who found them had no answers.
It took Dr. Mira Qasim and her team to finally decipher the scrolls and find the answers.
“These scrolls weren’t Egyptian,” she said. “They’re actually Nubian – from about 2,700 years ago, the time of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty.”
Dr. Qasim’s findings had opened a window on a mysterious and legendary land with a name that still resonates today as a term of endearment and empowerment; a recognition of courage and poise – Nubia.
“What I found was Nubia’s story as told by an orphan child named Kano,” Dr. Kasim said. “He found his way to the core of Nubia and grew to become an essential part of its rise to empire. I can’t wait to share Kano’s story with you.”
Istanbul – An astonishing window to the past was opened last week at the World Institute of Ancient Studies’ annual conference. Five hundred of the world’s leading historians and archaeologists gathered for five days of presentations, the highlight of which was the appearance of a group of scientists who have completed years of research on nineteen ancient Egyptian scrolls found not in Egypt, but three thousand miles south in ruins near Mt. Kenya. “Until now, we couldn’t reconcile how Egyptian influence reached that far south in Africa,” said Professor
Mira Qasim, the leader of the international team of fifteen archaeologists working on the scrolls. “We now have an
Dr. Qasim and her team concluded the scrolls were produced during Egypt’s 25th Dynasty, a period of turmoil during which the Kushite Kingdom of Nubia, an ancient culture in what is now Sudan, conquered its massive northern neighbor. “What we have here is a first-person account of that event by a commander of the Nubian army,” Dr. Qasim added. “His name was Kano, Father of Nations.” Dr. Qasim found it difficult to maintain her dispassionate scientific perspective as the scrolls revealed their story to her. “I’m Sudanese by birth. He may have been one of my ancestors, who knows. So, how can I contain my joy?” Dr. Qasim is not what you would expect for one of the world’s leading archaeologists.
First, as a woman in this profession of digging in the dirt, she is still a rarity. Second, she is Sudanese, a person of color who is an elegant representative of a nation trying to pull itself out of the turmoil of the last two decades. In another place or time, she could have been a model, her looks defying her 43 years of life. Finally, her sense of humor. She came to our meeting in a business dress suit, wearing an Indiana Jones fedora.
“When I gave a lecture at the University of Indiana two years ago, the students gave it to me. You like it? It is an indispensable part of my field pack now.” Some of that humor and joy had shown forth during the presentation of her team’s findings at the conference. Her voice thickened several times during her speech.
“I’m sorry. I just get emotional when we clear up one of the blank spaces in Africa’s cultural heritage. And this
one was so meaningful to me. Nubia, an empire that lasted a thousand years, and here’s an account on how it formed.” Her team’s findings will be intensely reviewed for years by the rest of the world’s scholars in ancient
studies. But, for now, these scrolls present the deepest insight into the birth of an ancient African superpower,
BILL LIGGINS is the award winning author of five novels: TABLE OF THE SUN (2019), I NEED; I WANT (2018), UNDYING LOVE (2018), NOVA CHASERS (2017), and WARNING (2002). He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a current resident of Tampa, Florida, with his wife. He is graduate of Cleveland State University with degrees in Geology and Communications. He was also a TV sportscaster, actor, and an award winning documentary film producer.
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