ancient treasures

9 September 2004 – 9 January 2005

This exhibition is now closed

Room 5

The ancient sites of Sudan are among the great monuments of Africa, and were home to the most powerful state in the Nile Valley, which briefly overwhelmed the Egypt of the Pharaohs.

Using the fruits of recent archaeological research, this major exhibition leads the visitor through the fascinating history of the country from the early Stone Age to the nineteenth century AD, including the medieval Christian and the Islamic periods. Many great objects have been lent by the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum, some never before seen outside Sudan.

Western interest in the ancient monuments of Sudan dates back to the early nineteenth century when travellers first ventured far to the south of Aswan, Egypt. They were amazed at the superbly preserved buildings and undertook detailed drawings and measurements of all they saw.

Serious archaeological investigations began a century later. Stimulated by the dams built at Aswan, northern Nubia is one of the best known areas archaeologically in the world. Further south much remains to be done.

This year the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum, one of Africa’s first museums, celebrates its centenary. Housing one of the finest collections of archaeological material from the Nile Valley, it is the source of all the objects featured in this exhibition.

Today more than thirty archaeological teams from around the world work in conjunction with the Sudan’s National Corporation for Antiquities. By 2008 the completed Merowe dam will have created a reservoir of 170 kilometres in length.

The British Museum is making a significant contribution to work on the Merowe Dam Archaeological Salvage Project. It is also involved in important excavations near Dongola.

Read more about the Merowe Dam Archaeological Salvage project