Drone photo of Dangeil temple facing east.

Re-evaluating Kush’s sacred landscape

Supported by

Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project

Key project information

Duration

2013 – 2026

Contact details

Email: Egyptian@britishmuseum.org

Partner

National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan

Supported by

View list of project supporters

Grant number

Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project 19

A multi-disciplinary approach to document, conserve and present Kush’s sacred landscape from the 1st century AD at Dangeil.

The sub-Saharan Kingdom of Kush, in what is now northern Sudan, helped define the cultural and political landscape in this region from around 7th century BC – 4th century AD.

The excavations at Dangeil in Sudan have uncovered a previously unknown monumental temple dedicated to Amun, the Kushite god of kingship. The remarkable standing preservation of structures at Dangeil make it unique in Sudan and important for understanding Sudan’s cultural history and heritage.

This collaborative project, The Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project, Dangeil Sudan, provides a unique opportunity to: 

  • Study a multi-faceted sacred complex at Dangeil.
  • Gain greater insight into the role of the temple within Kushite society.
  • Re-evaluate the history of the period and objects in the collections of the British Museum and Sudan.
  • Create a local museum and archaeological site park that make the site accessible to visitors and researchers. 

About the project

350km north of Khartoum, Dangeil is situated in the Berber-Abidiya region of Sudan. It was a powerful royal city during the Kushite Period (7th century BC – 4th century AD) and is strategically situated at the hub of several trade routes. At some points, it bordered various Egyptian and medieval Nubian empires. However, a detailed scientific survey and study of the region has not yet been conducted, so the character, distribution and length of occupation here during different periods isn’t known.

Late Kushite culture included a mixture of Egyptian Pharaonic, Greco-Roman and indigenous sub-Saharan traditions. Several Kushite gods, such as Amun, were also ancient Egyptian gods, but little is known about Kushite indigenous deities, their temples and their worship practices. 

The well-preserved Amun temple complex at Dangeil provides a great opportunity to learn more about Kushite religious and cultural practices. By comparing structures and artefacts originating from excavated cultural contexts at the site, this project will enhance understanding of the Kushite period and interpretation of the collections of the British Museum and across Sudan.

Collaboration is central to this project, which has an international, interdisciplinary team that works closely with the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan, and the local community. Using sustainable methods to conserve, preserve and present the site and its artefacts is also an important component of the project.

Aims

This project will develop a sustainable programme to document, protect and conserve the site at Dangeil for the future and to protect it from modern development. It will also create a local museum and archaeological site park. It will achieve these goals by: 

  • Providing training to local stakeholders to build capacity in archaeological excavation and documentation, and in conservation methods and techniques to create a trained and sustainable local workforce to work at the site.
  • Using affordable locally sourced materials and local technical knowledge combined with cutting-edge conservation techniques.
  • Promoting an understanding of the site’s cultural significance by working with the local community and making the site accessible to visitors.
  • Sharing research findings with the public and academic community through journal articles, books and lectures and booklets in English and Arabic.

Conclusion

The excellent preservation of this unique temple complex makes the site an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. Key discoveries from this project so far include:

Sorghum: archaeobotanical analyses of temple-offering moulds identified the grain sorghum which indicates that porridge or beer was offered to Amun in Kush, instead of wheat or barley bread as was found in ancient Egypt. Some objects and architecture in Kush resemble those of ancient Egypt, but their function may have differed, so previous Egyptocentric interpretations of Kushite culture need re-examination.

Statue fragments of early Kushite kings: a surprise discovery within the late 1st century AD temple, these fragments indicate that Dangeil was under royal control in the early 7th century BC. They document the expansion of the Kushite empire southwards; however, the rate of this expansion and the kingdom’s southern boundary are not known. 

Monumental round building: located in the sacred complex, its unusual shape and function aren’t understood. It could be a shrine to a local god. Many indigenous gods and the associated religious practices remain unclear or unknown – future excavation of the building’s interior may reveal some answers. 

Meet the team

Julie Anderson Headshot

Julie Renee Anderson

Principal Investigator
Department of Egypt and Sudan
British Museum

Mahmoud Suliman Bashir Headshot

Mahmoud Suliman Bashir

Principal Investigator
National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan

Rihab Khidir elRasheed headshot

Rihab Khidir elRasheed

Principal Investigator
National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan 

Project team

Project supporter

Project supporter

Supported by

  • Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP) – Qatar Museums, Qatar, and the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan
  • The Institute for Bioarchaeology
Logos for Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP) – Qatar Museums, Qatar, and the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan.

Outputs

Of Kushite kings and sacred landscapes in the Middle Nile valley

BOOK CHAPTER

Julie Anderson

Published in 2020

Finding sustainability in the desert: conservation of the archaeological site of Dangeil, Sudan, and its associated collections

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Francesca Guiducci; Tracey Sweek; Julie Anderson 

Studies in Conservation 65 (1), 113−18

Published in 2020

Taharqo and his descendants: a statue cache upstream of the Fifth Nile cataract

BOOK CHAPTER

Julie Anderson; Salaheldin Mohammed Ahmed; Mahmoud Suliman Bashir; Rihab Khidir elRasheed

Published in 2019

QSAP: Dangeil 2018−19. Conservation challenges and an ever-expanding sacred landscape

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Julie Anderson; Francesca Guiducci; Roksana Hajduga; Mahmoud Suliman Bashir; Rihab Khidir elRasheed

Sudan & Nubia 23, 101−9

Published in 2019

Recent discoveries at Dangeil, Nile State: exploring the Amun temple complex

BOOK CHAPTER

Julie Anderson; Mahmoud Suliman Bashir; Salah Mohammed Ahmed

Published in 2018

The Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project – drones and doors. Dangeil 2017−18

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Julie Anderson; Rihab Khidir elRasheed; Mahmoud Suliman Bashir

Sudan & Nubia 22, 107−15

Published in 2018

QSAP Dangeil 2016: Aspelta, Beloved of Re'-Harakhty and tombs in the Temple

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Julie Anderson; Rihab Khidir elRasheed; Mahmoud Suliman Bashir

Sudan & Nubia 21, 159−68

Published in 2017

Five years of excavations at Dangeil, Sudan: a new Amun temple of the Late Kushite period

BOOK CHAPTER

Julie Anderson; Salah Mohammed Ahmed

Published in 2015

Recent fieldwork at Dangeil, Nile State in the Amun temple complex

BOOK CHAPTER

Julie Anderson; Salah Mohammed Ahmed; Mahmoud Suliman

Published in 2015

The Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project at Dangeil. Satyrs, rulers, archers and pyramids: a miscellany from Dangeil 2014−15

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Julie Anderson; Mahmoud Suliman Bashir; Rihab Khidir elRasheed

Sudan & Nubia 19, 88−94

Published in 2015

Dangeil: excavations on Kom K, 2014−15

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Sebastien Maillot

Sudan & Nubia 19, 95−6

Published in 2015

Dangeil 2013−2014: porches, ovens and a glimpse underground

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Julie Anderson; Mahmoud Suliman Bashir; Salah Mohammed Ahmed

Sudan & Nubia 18, 69−77

Published in 2014

The Kushite cemetery of Dangeil (WTC): preliminary analyses of the human remains

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Anna Pieri

Sudan & Nubia 18, 78−82.

Published in 2014

Excavations in the Meroitic cemetery of Dangeil, Sudan

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE

Julie Anderson; Mahmoud Suliman Bashir

Published in 2014 in English and Arabic

Early Kushite royal statues at Dangeil, Sudan

BOOK CHAPTER

Julie Anderson; Salah Mohammed Ahmed

Published in 2014

Conservation of an Amun Temple in the Sudan

BOOK CHAPTER

Tracey Sweek; Julie Anderson; Salah Mohammed Ahmed; Satoko Tanimoto

Published in 2014