Rescue excavation in Sudan
An enormous dam is currently being constructed on the 4th Nile Cataract in Northern Sudan. After its completion in 2008, a 170-kilometre stretch of the river valley will be flooded. A unique cultural landscape will forever be submerged in the waters of the new lake. In contrast to the construction of the Aswan Dam in the 1960s, for the 4th Cataract there is no UNESCO campaign to react to this situation, to document the ancient sites and thereby preserve them for posterity. However, without archaeological study of the area, a whole chapter of humankind’s history, central to the understanding of Nubian cultures and of the development of African civilisations will be irreplaceably lost.
With this background in mind, the Department for Northeast African Archaeology and Cultural Studies at the Humboldt-University Berlin has taken responsibility for a 40-kilometre sector in the centre of the area to be flooded. The objective of the project, which began its activities in the area with a first survey in spring 2004, is to systematically explore the region, record all archaeological sites, and examine the most important ones through excavation.
The Research area
The concession area of H.U.N.E. is nearly exactly at the centre of the large arc, where the Nile flows from Northeast to Southwest. It comprises:
The names of those islands are Us, Sur, Sherari and Shirri. They are up to ten kilometres long and reach a width of several kilometres. The largest, Shirri, has an area of 30 square kilometres.
a circa 40 kilometre stretch of the left, or southwest, bank of the Nile, from Gebel Musa downriver to the marketplace of Salamat upriver, a group of four larger and several smaller islands within the adjacent part of the river.