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Survey and rescue excavations (2001-2005)

Friday 23 September 2011, by SFDAS

Francis Geus, Yves Lecointe, Vincent Francigny, Raphaël Pouriel, Coralie Gradel, Frédérique Adam, Aurore Schmitt, David Peressinotto, Elena Garcea, Piotr Osypinski, Yan Moyerson, Maria Gatto, Philippe Van Peer, Vincent Rondot, Ali Merghani Ahmed, Nahla Mustafa, Habab Ahmed Idriss, Awadallah Ali El Bacha, Fawzi Hassan Bakhit, Ayman El Tayeb, Heider Mohamdian, AbdelHai Abdel Sawi, El Taher Adam Elnur, Yassin Mohamed Sayed, Ahmed El Amin Elsukari, El Hassan Ahmed Mohamed, Azari Mustafa, Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Hamid, Faïz Hassan Osman, Abdel Bagi Ayib, Mejdi Awad.

Excavation of a Christian settlement in the Wadi Muqqadam.

For four years, the SFDAS has participated with NCAM in an archaeological survey program and rescue excavations linked to the construction of a dam near the 4th cataract of the Nile. This program started in November 2001 and ended in 2005. NCAM asked the SFDAS to carry out four interventions in the areas selected for the resettlement of Shaagia and Manasir populations who currently live along the fourth cataract. These regions are located near Debba, Korti, Atbara and Abu Hamed.
The first stage of the program, which ended in December 2002, covered the region of el-Multaga, east of Debba. The survey allowed the identification of 147 sites with an archaeological interest. Its contribution mainly concerns prehistory and more specifically Middle Paleolithic stone processing sites, Mesolithic and Khartoum Neolithic settlements, as well as funeral mounds dating from the second half of the fifth millennium BC.

Double inhumation Neolithic tomb from Wadi Mukabrab.

The second rescue campaign took place on the right bank of the Wadi Muqaddam from November 2003 to April 2004. One hundred and eighty nine sites were identified. The most ancient material found at the surface shows evidence of human occupation from the Acheulean era and the very beginning of the Middle Paleolithic. As for Multaga, the Neolithic sites are settlements from the Khartoum Mesolithic and Khartoum Neolithic. The excavations of four small cemeteries revealed the presence of small communities living along the wadis during the post-Meroitic period. The more numerous Christian sites are mainly isolated tombs that are sometimes organised in groups of several units.

Jars deposited in a post-Meroitic tomb at Wadi Muqqadam.

The third region, south of Ed-Damer, was surveyed from October to December 2004. Thirty five sites were identified on a 240 km² zone (south of Ed-Damer, Mukabrab site). Most of them were found on old terraces of the Nile located a few kilometres east of the present course of the Nile. The oldest site is a Neolithic settlement that is contemporary with Khartoum Mesolithic and Khartoum Neolithic. The discovery on the site of fragments comparable to ancient Kerma ceramics is a first in this region of the Middle Nile. A small cemetery with Meroitic and post-Meroitic tombs, without material, was the subject of a rescue excavation and a few isolated tumulary tombs of the Christian era were also studied.

Neolithic tomb at el-Multaga.

The last operation, named “Kehaila East Archaeological Salvage Project”, took place in June 2005 and concerned the Keheila area between Abu Hamed and the village of Maheisa (coordinates: 42.000 North, 19°35.000 South; 33°01.000 West, 33°15.500 East). This desert region is mainly characterised by gravel plains crossed by small wadis. The most important is Wadi El Go’oud. The identified sites are predominantly Neolithic (43,48%). One should also mention Kerma (6,95%), Post-Meroitic (4,35%) and Christian (5,21) sites.