Musawwarat es Sufra


Since 1960, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin has been working at Musawwarat es-Sufra in Sudan, one of the most important sacred sites of the ancient Kingdom of Kush. This spectacular archaeological site comprises numerous temples and shrines, the labyrinthine building complex of the Great Enclosure, a residential complex with representative character, and numerous work areas and quarries. As the valley of Musawwarat is situated in the hinterland about 25 km away from the Nile, monumental water reservoirs were constructed, among them the largest such structure known from ancient Sudan. It is possible that the unique ensemble of buildings and other structures at Musawwarat was the main cult site of the local lion-headed god Apedemak.

In addition to extensive excavations and other research, the long-term work of Humboldt-Universität included the reconstruction of the so-called Lion Temple, countless conservation-restoration measures and the establishment of an on-site museum. Together with the neighbouring sites of Naga and Meroe, Musawwarat was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as 'Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe' in 2011.

The work financed by the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP) between 2016 and 2020 included extensive site management measures and was aimed primarily at the preservation and public presentation of the site. On the basis of a newly developed conservation plan, cultural preservation measures were devoted to the archaeological monuments and visitor routes most frequented by tourists. In addition, a visitor guidance system with warning and direction signs as well as information panels was developed. Moreover, a new exhibition concept was introduced for the Musawwarat Site Museum. The concept for the presentation and protection for Musawwarat is part of an overall strategy for the sustainable tourism development of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In addition to setting up a new surveying system and a Geographic Information System (GIS), which brings together all spatial data for Musawwarat for the first time, the buildings and the unique architectural decoration of the site were (re)documented systematically using 3D scanning and photogrammetry. Research was carried out in close connection with cultural preservation measures and was devoted mainly to the Lion Temple and its sacred district as well as to the Central Terrace of the Great Enclosure with its unique decorated columns. In addition, numerous ancient graffiti in Meroitic cursive script were examined, which are among the first evidence of this early sub-Saharan script.

All work of Humboldt-Universität at Musawwarat is carried out in close cooperation with the Sudanese Antiquities Service, the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM).

Principal Investigators
Verbovsek, Alexandra Prof. Dr. (Details) (Archaeology and Cultural History of Northeastern Africa: Material Culture)
Kleinitz, Cornelia (Details) (Archaeology and Cultural History of Northeastern Africa II)

Duration of Project
Start date: 10/2016
End date: 09/2020

Research Areas
Humanities and Social Sciences

Last updated on 2021-04-01 at 17:45