The architectural heritage of remote parts of Sudan is being brought to light with excavation works close to the River Nile.
The work is being carried out in a region known as El Kurru, about 300km north west of the country’s capital, Khartoum and the $135 million project is being funded by Qatari authorities.
“We are trying to preserve what has been found before, and to discover what remains hidden. Archaeologists had a dream that this site would attract more interest,” said Abbas Zarook who heads a Sudanese-American mission excavating the ruins.
The remains are dated from the Napatan civilisation, which emerged around 3,000 years ago and extended its influence north to Luxor and then briefly conquered Egypt.
Excavations centre on a royal burial site, including remains of a pyramid for the Napatan king Piangkhi, which form part of a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes El Kurru.
“We are trying to preserve what has been found before, and to discover what remains hidden,” Zarook explained.
During the excavation workers removed sand and other debris from El Kurru’s largest pyramid, which archaeologists believe was about 35 metres high.
Geoff Emberling, assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan, added: “Sudan presents some interesting and rewarding opportunities for archaeologists now.
“In some ways we know less about the archaeology of the Middle Nile and surrounding areas than about other major ancient civilisations, and there are real opportunities to make major discoveries.
The Qatari funding, a five-year project announced in March, is aimed at supporting further discoveries and the archaeological team says it hopes the programme will be extended.