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 site: offering moulds

A low mound, just behind the temple, covered with sherds, charcoal, ash, pebbles and grinding stones was an ancient rubbish dump from which roughly 1,200,000 cone-shaped, offering mould fragments were excavated.

These represent approximately 77,000 temple offerings when the vessel bases alone are counted. This deposit was much larger than anticipated and clearly offerings formed an important part of the temple ritual. The cone-shaped moulds are a handmade, coarse ware with rounded bases and flat or slightly rounded rims. In Sudan, their use seems restricted to temples dedicated to the god Amun. Most are found in fragments possibly because the proportions of the mould made it difficult to remove the offering within and/or the breaking of the moulds fulfilled some sort of ritual purpose and they were intended for a single-use only.

Archaeobotanical analyses of the mould sherds excavated revealed that sorghum was the grain used to make offerings, not wheat or barley as was used to make offering breads in Egypt. Sorghum is largely gluten-free and does not rise. Modern sorghum breads are flat and unleavened. The only modern sorghum foodstuff made in a mould is a thick stiff porridge which maintains its shape when removed from the mould; however, a sorghum beverage or beer could also have been produced and according to the classical geographer Strabo, the Kushites were known to make a drink from sorghum. At this point it is uncertain as to which of these possibilities, porridge or beer, the Kushites chose to offer to Amun.

Cone-shaped temple offering moulds
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    Cone-shaped temple offering moulds

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    Dried heads of sorghum