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El logototipo que identifica a la entidad es una flor de loto abierta, símbolo del renacer a una vida nueva tanto en el Antiguo Egipto como en el Oriente Medio y Cercano. Encierra jeroglíficos con la salutación brindada al faraón (de derecha a izquierda): "anj, djed, was" sobre un cesto neb, que puede traducirse como: "(le sean dados) toda la vida, toda la estabilidad y todo el dominio".


The Republic of The Sudan

Ministry of Tourism & National Heritage

National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums


Merowe Dam Archaeological Salvage Project


Appeal for rescuing a piece of Man’s cultural heritage

In the name of the Government of the Sudan, I would like to invite all experts and International Institutions specialized in the fields of archaeology, history, ethnography, preservation and related sciences to contribute to the rescuing of sites endangered by the construction of a dam near the IVth Cataract of the Nile (Merowe Dam).

The participating Institutions will benefit from the following:

* Exemption of fees for the duration of work in the region.

* Exemption of fees for the regular study concessions of the mission for two successive seasons after the end of the rescue campaign.

* NCAM will try its best to solve any logistic problems.

* According to chapter III, article 28(b) of the Antiquities Protection Ordinance (1999), institutions participating in the salvage project will have the right to own a representative portion of their discoveries (objects).

Please find herewith the essential information about this campaign, prepared by Dr. Salah M. Ahmed, the Project Field Director. We are confident that there will be a positive response from the International Scientific Community, which has always been a great help for all our Salvage projects since the Unesco Nubian Campaign of the sixties of the last century.

Hassan .H. Idriss

Director general (NCAM)

Project general Director


The Republic of The Sudan

Ministry of Tourism & National Heritage

National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums


Merowe Dam Archaeological Salvage Project



he idea of building a dam at the IVth Cataract of the Nile dates to the period of the Anglo-Egyptian administration in the Sudan (1943). It was previously known as the Hamdab Dam and recently re-named “Merowe” after a small island of which the northern part is going to be cut- through by the structure of the dam itself. Most of the local inhabitants pronounce the name of this island as “Mirowy”.

For various reasons the project was not realised during the previous 50 years. The present government has considered, since it came to power in 1989, this dam as a project of top priority, since it will create enough hydroelectric power (1250 mg/w) to develop many sectors of the national economy.

Location, time and impact:

After many studies made by expert international institutions and companies, the Government of Sudan came to the decision to build a single dam, crossing the island of Mirowy and located about 26km upstream from the pyramids of Nuri. The completion of the project is scheduled to be achieved in August 2007.

The highest water (during flood season) will be around 300m above sea level. This will result in a strip of about 170km upstream of the dam being inundated. A lake approximately 4km wide will be formed immediately behind the dam. This will result in the dislocation of more than 48000 people from their homes.


The aim of this project is to rescue archaeological sites endangered by the construction of Merowe Dam. The realization of this dam will affect a considerable number of archaeological sites to varying degrees:-

i) Sites which are going to be either destroyed by the engineering activities at the dam site or covered by the waters of the lake upstream. This will include a strip of about 170km on both banks of the Nile together with tens of islands.

ii) Sites which are going to be destroyed by the building of houses and digging of irrigation canals in the resettlement areas.

iii) Sites which are going to be affected by the construction of the power transmission lines.

vi) Although the monumental sites of the Napatan Region will not be directly affected by these activities, NCAM is concerned with the expected environmental changes. These sites include the famous Pharaonic and Napato–Meroitic towns and cemeteries at Gebel Barkal, Nuri, Sanam, El-Kurru, Hillat El-Arab, the Post-Meroitic tumuli of Zuma, the Christian monastery of Ghazali and the later strongholds at Merowe East, Kagabi, El-Datti and may be other sites located further downstream.

General results of recent work:

Many campaigns to the region were organized during the last 13 years. These are principally:

. Campaigns by NCAM on both banks of the Nile and on some islands. One of these campaigns was directed by a Unesco expert (Prof. Jean Leclant).

. The University of Rome in the downstream portions of the region.

. An assessment of the impact of the dam on archaeological sites made by Dr. K. Grzymski for Monenco, the Canadian Company responsible for the feasibility study of the project.

. The Sudan Archaeological Research Society (SARS) conducted surveys and test excavations on the left bank of the Nile (Dar el-Arab to Kerbikan).

. The Mission of the Archaeological Museum of Gdansk (Poland) surveyed the right bank and conducted test and rescue excavations.

These activities have thrown more light on the archaeological potential of the region and resulted in the recording of hundreds of sites. They consist of concentrations of cemeteries and isolated tombs, rock drawings of various periods, remains of settlements, mainly of later periods (Christian) and monumental fortresses of the Medieval period. The various surveys have shown a high density of Post- Meroitic and Christian remains. However the discovery of vast sites of the Kerma period on the right bank indicates that future investigations may be very fruitful in finding considerable remains of all the periods of the country’s history.

A coordination of efforts of the few missions engaged in the region to evaluate the previous results and to formulate a working program for the coming seasons is highly recommended.

The Actual situation

Preliminary preparation for the construction of the Dam have already started:

* The first resettlement area (El-Multaga) is located at about 40km to the south of Debba. The resettlement program here consists of the building of two villages and a complex of administrative premises to run a vast agricultural scheme. This area is reserved for the resettlement of about 8% of the dislocated population; the inhabitants of the villages which are going to be directly affected by the engineering activities at the dam site. They should move to their new home before the end of this year.

A campaign (2001-2002) have been organized by NCAM in collaboration with the French Archaeological Section (SFDAS) to rescue antiquities of the area of El-Multaga (13000 feddan: about 30940 hectares). The operation resulted in the recording of over 100 concentrations of prehistoric sites together with a Christian settlement, near the Nile, in a location which had been chosen by the Ministry of Irrigation for the installation of the new pump station of the resettlement project.

Further upstream, roads on both banks of the Nile leading to the dam site from Kereima and Merowe, together with a railway linking the dam with the existing line on the right bank are being built. A small township for the engineers and later, for the administration of the dam and the power station is under construction. The beginning of the engineering work for the dam itself is planned in March 2003.

The National Corporation For Antiquities & Museums (NCAM) have organized a 6 month campaign (2001-2002) to rescue sites endangered by the engineering activities, on the left bank, over a distance of about 8 kilometers. The result of this campaign is the recording and testing of tens of sites ranging from prehistoric settlements, graves of pre- Napatan, Post – Meroitic, Christian and others of undetermined dates. Many rock drawings of various periods have also been recorded. These are mainly drawings of animals (camels, donkeys, and horse), boats and crosses. The campaign included, also, the excavation of a big kom on the Island of Mirowy containing 10 Christian graves on the surface and an earlier Post- Meroitic burial at the bottom; in addition to houses of the Christian period. The surface of this Island has also yielded rare Prehistoric tools. The mission of the Archaeological Museum of Gdansk (Poland) covered the equivalent area on the right bank.

The future work:

During the coming five years, intensive archaeological work is needed in the lake area extended upstream from the dam site, along the power transmission lines, in the new resettlement areas and on the sites of the Napatan Region:

a) The lake sites:

As we have already noted, the Merowe Dam (65m high) will affect the villages over a distance of about 170 kilometers. The new lake will have a maximum width of about 4 kilometers including the actual channel.

left bank :

* NCAM will continue its investigations from the Dam site to Dar el–Arab (24km).

* The Sudan Archaeological Research Society (SARS) will keep its concession in the region between Dar el-Arab and Kerbikan (40km).

Right bank:

* The Mission of the Archaeological Museum of Gdansk (Poland) will continue its rescue program between the dam site and the fortress of el- Raidab.

* According to the Dam program, these areas should be cleared before June 2006.

Archaeological Missions are invited to contribute to the rescue of sites upstream from the above- mentioned concessions. Applicants can specify their preference: i.e. left bank, right bank, islands…. etc. Specialised investigations in the whole region (i.e. study of prehistoric remains, full recording of fortresses, etc) are also a possibility to be discussed with the holders of the different concessions.

b) The power transmission lines:

Five lines are going to be installed:

1) Dam site – Omdurman

2) Dam site – Atbara

3) Dam site – Dongola

4) Atbara- Khartoum North (through the Butana)

5) Atbara- Port- Sudan.

NCAM has agreed with the Dam administration to undertake the survey of these lines at the moment of their demarcation on the ground (2003). Using this method the contractors can avoid the destruction of ancient remains and less rescue excavations will be needed. This has already been experienced in “road” and “ pipe-line “ archaeology.

c) The resettlement program:

In addition to El-Multaga, three other resettlement areas will be prepared for the dislocated population of the region:

1) The lower reaches of Wadi Muggadam will be prepared for the resettlement of the people of the region of Amri. The project will cover an area of 35000 feddans (about 83300 hectares). This is scheduled to be realized in 2003.

2) Wadi El–Makabrab (24km south of Atbara) will accommodate part of the “Manasirs”. The project covers an area of 42000 feddans (about 99960 hectares). The realization of this project is planned to the year 2004.

3) Some of the “ Manasirs” will be resettled on the banks of the new lake, probably in the region of El-Kab Station No 10 (about 40km downstream from Abu Hamad) . This project has not yet been precisely defined.

d) The Napata Region :

Although the sites of the Napatan Region are not going to be affected directly by the construction of the dam, expert advice concerning the expected environmental changes (i.e. water table) is needed. The National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) have submitted a nomination file for the inclusion of Gebel Barkal , el-Kurru, Zuma, Nuri and Sanam on the World Heritage List. A Unesco expert visited these sites (last September) to evaluate their state of preservation and the integrity of their landscape. The final decision will be taken in a meeting to be held in China on June 23, 2003.

El - Multaga Museum:

The National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums (NCAM) and the Merowe Dam Implementation Unit are planning to create a museum at the first resettlement area (El-Multaga) for the preservation and exhibition of the archaeological and ethnographical wealth of the IVth Cataract.


All missions are free to choose the language and style for their publications. However, the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) would like to have a collective volume containing the general results of the work of all missions participating in the rescue project. This should be presented in English (with an Arabic translation), and to be realized immediately after the end of the campaign (2008). The final reports should be published, on the latest, five years after the end of the field activities.


The National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums would prefer the concentration of efforts on the less represented chapters of the country’s history in the region (i.e. prehistoric, Kerma, pharaonic and Napato-Meroitic periods).

Dr. Salah Mohamed Ahmed

Field work Director (NCAM)

Project field Director