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: the temple

Amun temple sanctuary
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    Amun temple sanctuary

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    Decorated sandstone wall facings within the temple sanctuary

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    Sandstone column decorated with Meroitic hieroglyphs and fertility figures

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    Quarry on Jebel Nakharu

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    Altar fragment bearing the royal names of Queen Amanitore (1st century AD)

Work thus far has concentrated on Kom H, a mound surrounded by an enclosure wall in the centre of the site and a large, well-preserved Amun temple of the first century AD has been uncovered.

It is symmetrical, orientated east-west along a central aisle, with the monumental pylon entrance facing the Nile (48.5x 33.5m), and is constructed of mud bricks, sandstone and red bricks. Most of the floors and the temple axis are paved with well-fitted sandstone flagstones. Two columned courts precede the sanctuary which contains four decorated sandstone columns and two altars, one of which bears remains of decoration. The entrances to the sanctuary chapels were faced with inscribed sandstone blocks. Eight plump fertility figures striding forward towards the sanctuary decorate each column along with four vertical Meroitic inscriptions. These figures wear river plants and flowers on their heads, have fat stomachs, pendulous breasts and wear short kilts. Each carries two water jars that pour offerings to Amun. Fertility figures also decorated one of the altars and the lower parts of the walls and sanctuary facings. Traces of plaster and pigments remaining on the walls and columns suggest that the temple had been brightly decorated in blue, red and yellow. Geological analysis of the quarries located in Jebel Nakharu directly across the river from Dangeil, indicates that the stone used within the temple originated there.

Several pink sandstone fragments of a third finely carved altar were discovered within the sanctuary’s fill including a band of stars that ran beneath a cavetto cornice and parts of the royal names of the Kushite queen Amanitore inscribed within cartouches. The Kushite rulers Amanitore and Natakamani were clearly temple benefactors and may have constructed or restored the temple complex as they did elsewhere in the Sudan during their reign in the first century AD.

Charred palm roof beams were discovered just above the floors throughout the entire temple. An extensive fire destroyed much of the temple roofing and the subsequent collapse sealed the floors. C14 and AMS dating of these beams confirm a date of construction in the first century AD as do the associated ceramics. The cause of the fire remains unknown; however, robber holes dug through floors and the damage received by the altars and ram statues along the processional way prior to the fire suggests the temple was purposefully destroyed.