SFDAS excavations


The archaeological site of Damboya identified by F. Hinkel and prospected in 2002 by Patrice Lenoble and Vincent Rondot, is located 270 km north of Khartoum, near Shendi, into the concession of El-Hassa (1.7 km) of which it is a component. The Louvre Museum asked the NCAM to integrate this concession into the department of Egyptian antiquities in 2020. Marc Maillot, current director of the mission, had expressed the wish to open an archaeological excavation in Damboya, as part of his program as director of the SFDAS (French Archaeological Unit in Sudan). A scientific cooperation agreement has therefore been signed between the Louvre Museum and the SFDAS, so that the Damboya excavation can begin in 2020 under the aegis of the SFDAS.

The Damboya potential has already been identified for a long time. The results obtained following the magnetometric survey carried out in 2008 on the central part of the site were promising for an in-depth study of urban settlements on the banks of the Nile in central Sudan, in connection with one of the major sites of the Meroitic period, El-Hassa. This partial survey extended over an area of 2.35 hectares, itself divided into 8 square modules of 50m on each side, a rectangle of 40m by 50m and a square of 40m a side. It revealed two buildings. The first one, located on the highest hill of the site, measured at least 80m by 60m and seemed to have several internal subdivisions of important modules (from 10m a side minimum to 20m maximum). South of this central hill, a small 18x20m building was clearly visible. It also featured small module internal partitions. Other magnetic anomalies were visible on the rest of the covered area but were not rectilinear and might have been created by tracks.

These various results enabled the SFDAS archaeological team to select the most promising sectors for a long-term study on the settlement of Damboya, after a final survey on site. The archaeological team was composed of the following members: Marc Maillot, director of the SFDAS, responsible for sector A and director of the mission; Romain David, SFDAS researcher, ceramologist; Gabrielle Choimet, PhD student at Sorbonne Université, responsible for sectors B, C, D, E; Coralie Prenat, international volunteer, SFDAS; Emma Maines, anthropologist, Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne and Musée de l’Homme, head of the medieval necropolis; Giorgio Nogara, archaeologist, Lille 3 University and associate member of the SFDAS; Sébastien Poudroux, topographer; Wafa Sharif Dawod Hussein, Nileein University student, ceramologist.

Four sectors have been opened, three of which (B, C, D) show only residual vestiges and virgin soil very close to the surface. The two major sectors, A and E, on the other hand, are very rich and were chosen for their position framing the main hill of the site, itself far too extensive in terms of means and time available to the SFDAS for its five-year program.

article published on 29 March 2021

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