The Berber-Abidiya archaeological project

Project leader

Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan 


  • Dr Salah eldin Mohamed Ahmed, Director of Field Work, National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan

Supported by

Institute for Bioarchaeology National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan
  • Archeology4All
  • Institute for Bioarchaeology
  • Michela Schiff Giorgini Foundation of the
    United States
  • National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan
  • Anonymous donor

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The Berber-Abidiya region

Excavation at Kawa

Archaeological work in the Berber-Abidiya area has been limited. Some antiquities and sites were recorded by the Turkish Army and travellers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

These reports provided vital clues concerning the location of sites; however, like much of Sudan, a detailed scientific survey and study of the region has yet to be conducted. The character, distribution, density and length of occupation are not known.

Geographically and historically this area is of great interest and significance. The 5th Nile cataract, shown above, an area of rapids just to the north of Berber-Abidiya, formed a natural physical boundary that inhibited movement along the river and may have marked other borders, (political, cultural, linguistic etc.). It is notable that the Hagr el-Merwa at Kurgus, just north of the 5th cataract, was the furthest limit of Egyptian Pharaonic New Kingdom expansion.

The region is strategically situated at the hub of both ancient and modern trade routes. Rocks in the 5th cataract can easily damage boats, so for example when travelling upstream, it is often necessary to leave the river and travel around the cataract, re-joining the Nile in the Berber-Abidiya region. Routes from the eastern and western deserts and the Red Sea also connect with the Nile in this area. One of the main east-west caravan routes taken by African pilgrims on their way to Mecca goes through Berber on the way to the Red Sea. Our reconnaissance has revealed numerous sites ranging in date from the Kushite Meroitic period of the 3rd century BC– 4th century AD to those of the Turkiya and Mahdiya periods (18th –19th centuries). It is an archaeologically rich region.