A diver is getting ready to plunge into the unappealing water in front of her. Above her rises a pyramid, a monument to a long-lost king. For here in the broiling north of Sudan, deep in the desert, lie the remains of a kingdom that once held sway over vast swathes of northern Africa.
The man whose tomb lies beneath this pyramid was called Nastasen. He was a pharaoh of Nubia buried here more than 2,000 years ago. Now the diver, a trained archaeologist, moves down a stairway etched into the rock. All she has for air, should there be an emergency, is a tiny canister.
Waiting for the diver at the base of the stairway is Pearce Paul Creasman, another archaeologist, working with a grant from National Geographic. He greets her with some words of caution, “It’s really deep today. There’s not going to be any headroom in the first chamber.” Indeed, Creasman is already up to his chest in the murky waters himself.