By: Aisha Braima
KHARTOUM (SUDANOW) The Qatari Mission for the Pyramids of Sudan has made a considerable progress in the restoration and preservation of over forty Nubian royal pyramids at al-Begrawiya area in Nahar Al-Neel (River Nile) State, 200 km north of Khartoum.
These pyramids are major sites of the powerful Kingdom of Merowe which flourished during the period 8th century BC - the 4th century AD and has been inscribed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The Mission work is being conducted within the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP) which was initiated by former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir. The initiative was translated into an agreement signed by the two countries in September 2012. The initial sum set for the execution of the project stands at over US$135 million.
QSAP’s General Coordinator Dr. Salah Mohamed Ahmed explained that the Mission work would also cover the royal pyramids of Jabal al-Barkal, al-Kuru and Nouri but the first phase would concentrate on al-Begrawiya area which contains the largest number of pyramids world-wide. The rehabilitation process includes the stonework of the pyramids, excavation of tombs and other relics, planting tree-belt to combat sand dunes and opening and studying of the burial chambers by an international team comprising experts from Sudan, Germany and other parts of the world, he added.
Dr. Ahmed said the mission, under the auspices of Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali A- Thani, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees – Qatar Museums Authority, has started with the topographical and geophysical survey as well as three dimensional laser-photographing of the pyramids.
So far, during the last archaeological season October-March, the number of the Project-funded archeological missions increased from 28 to 40 foreign and national missions. The fund has helped accelerate the excavation processes where 126 new sites, dating back to prehistoric and Islamic eras, have been discovered last March. The construction of the two camps at al-Begrawiya and Jebel al-Barkal (also listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List) was completed. The camps were built to shelter those working in the project and will be used as tourism facilities in the future. A church which was found near Ganaty’s grand mosque was refurbished as well.
Work has also started in rehabilitation of the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum and construction of a new museum at Naga site near al-Begrawiya.
The Kingdom of Merowe was the last of the three Nubian powerful kingdoms (Karma, Napata and Meroe). It flourished between the 8thcentury BC to the 4th century AD. While the former two kingdoms were known by their brave warriors kings like Kashta and Piankhy who extended their influence to Egypt and beyond, even to Syria in some references, Meroe kingdom was went in the records for its great achievements in the fields of trade, industry and architecture. It maintained contact with Arab and Indian traders along the Red Sea coasts. The ruins of its mining activities remained witness of its unique status in the continent and outside. Suffice to say that this kingdom was known in history and archeological books as the Birmingham of Africa.
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