Jebel Barkal or Gebel Barkal (Arabic: جبل بركل, romanized: Jabal Barkal) is a mesa or large rock outcrop located 400 km north of Khartoum, next to Karima in Northern State in Sudan, on the Nile River, in the region that is sometimes called Nubia. The jebel is 104 m tall, has a flat top, and came to have religious significance for both ancient Kush and ancient Egyptian occupiers. In 2003, the mountain, together with the extensive archaeological site at its base (ancient Napata), were named as the center of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Jebel Barkal area houses the Jebel Barkal Museum.
The earliest occupation of Jebel Barkal was that of the Kerma culture that was also known as Kush, but this occupation is so far known only from scattered potsherds.
Around 1450 BCE, the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III conquered Barkal and built a fortified settlement (Egyptian menenu) there as the southern limit of the Egyptian empire. The city and region around it came to be called Napata, and the Egyptian occupation of Jebel Barkal extended through most of the New Kingdom of Egypt. The Egyptians built a complex of temples at the site, centered on a temple to Amun of Napata—a local, ram-headed form of the main god of the Egyptian capital city of Thebes, Egypt. In the last years of the New Kingdom and after its collapse in 1169 BC, there was little construction at Jebel Barkal. Apart from the temples, no trace of this Egyptian settlement has yet been found at the site.
Jebel Barkal was the capital city of the Kingdom of Kush as it returned to power in the years after 800 BCE as the Dynasty of Napata. The Kushite kings who conquered and ruled over Egypt as the 25th Dynasty, including Kashta, Piankhy (or Piye), and Taharqa, all built, renovated, and expanded monumental structures at the site.
After the Kushites were driven out by the Assyrian conquest of Egypt in the mid-7th century BC, they continued to rule Kush with Jebel Barkal and the city of Meroë as the most important urban centers of Kush. Jebel Barkal's palaces and temples continued to be renovated from the 7th-early 3rd centuries BC. Most of the royal pyramid burials of the kings and queens of Kush during this time were built at the site of Nuri, 9 km to the northeast of Jebel Barkal.
In 270 BCE, the location of Kushite royal burials was moved to Meroë, inaugurating the Meroitic period of the Kingdom of Kush. Jebel Barkal continued to be an important city of Kush during the Meroitic period. A sequence of palaces were built, most notably by King Natakamani, new temples were built and older temples were renovated. During the 1st century BC - 1st century AD, eight royal pyramid burials were built at Jebel Barkal (rather than at Meroë), for reasons that are not clear, but perhaps reflecting the prominence of one or more families from the city.
After the collapse of Kush during the 4th century AD, Jebel Barkal continued to be occupied in the medieval (Christian) period of Nubia, as attested by architectural remains, burials, and burial inscriptions.