Sudan Past and Present: Early cultures to the Arrival of Christianity

Kerma ware pottery beaker

Kerma ware beaker

Height: 11.500 cm

EA 55424

Sudan is the largest country in Africa, straddling the Nile between the desert of Egypt and the forests of Uganda. The population is Muslim and Christian, and contains no less than 56 ethnic groups and 570 tribal groups. In recent years, the eyes of the world have been on Sudan and it has never been more important to understand its complex past.

Sudan has been inhabited for at least 300,000 years. During its long history it has been under Egyptian rule - and has also ruled Egypt. It converted to Christianity in the sixth century AD before Islam became the main state religion in the sixteenth century AD. The Turco-Egyptians took over in 1821 before being ousted by the Mahdists in 1885. During the first half of the twentieth century Sudan was governed by the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, but gained independence in 1956. Recent Sudanese history has been characterized by upheaval and conflict although the country's material culture remains rich and diverse.

Sudan past and present was the theme of a programme that started at the British Museum in September 2004. It encompassed the archaeological exhibition Sudan: ancient treasures as well as contemporary displays located around the museum. The Sudanese collection in the British Museum is one of the most important and comprehensive outside Sudan.

On display: Room 65: Sudan, Egypt & Nubia