THE NILE'S OTHER KINGDOM

NUBIA, NOT EGYPT, MAY HAVE BEEN THE FIRST TRUE AFRICAN CIVILIZATION

Archaeologist Timothy Kendall was leading an expedition in northern Sudan earlier this year when one of his diggers came across a slab of intricately carved stone hidden in rubble. Soon after, another slab turned up, and then another, until there were 25 in all, laid out in the sand like an archaeological jigsaw puzzle. Fitted together, the pieces formed a dazzling tableau: golden stars set against an azure sky, with crowned vultures flying off into the distance. Flying where, precisely? Kendall, an associate curator at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, thinks he knows. And if his hunch is correct, he may...

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