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Qatar will provide $135 million to Sudan to help restore and study remnants of the nation’s history. (Abd Raouf / AP Images)

Unearthing Ancient Africa

Sudan is working to protect pyramids and artifacts representing its 5,000-year history

By Michelle Bruner | April 11 , 2013
<p> TOP: Archaeologists have been excavating ruins in Sudan for decades. (Mohammed Babiker / Xinhua Press / Corbis) </p><p> MAP: The ancient kingdoms of Kush and Nubia were located in present-day Sudan. (Jim McMahon)</p>

TOP: Archaeologists have been excavating ruins in Sudan for decades. (Mohammed Babiker / Xinhua Press / Corbis)

MAP: The ancient kingdoms of Kush and Nubia were located in present-day Sudan. (Jim McMahon)

In the African nation of Sudan, grand pyramids, statues, and scientific achievements have been buried under the sand for thousands of years. The country has had few resources to spend on studying its ancient past. But a recent agreement with the Middle Eastern country of Qatar may change that and help Sudan reclaim important relics that are part of its heritage.

Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world, will provide $135 million to the Sudanese government. This money will go to help archaeologists (people who study the past) find, restore, and protect the treasures of this ancient African kingdom. Sudan, an extremely poor country, has been suffering from years of ongoing war.


Researchers like Timothy Kendall, Charles Bonnet, and Vincent Francigny have already been working in Sudan for decades. These archaeologists carefully study artifacts, or items left behind by past societies, to learn about the lives of people in those cultures.

So far they have only begun to unearth an incredible 5,000-year history. Sudan, once known as Kush, was one of the first civilizations along the Nile River. Some of humankind’s first irrigation systems, which take water to dry farmland, have been discovered in this region.

Sudan was also home to the pharaohs who ruled Egypt during a time known as the Nubian Dynasty, which began in roughly 750 B.C. A research team has discovered seven large statues of these rulers. Connections to ancient Egypt surfaced at another site where researchers uncovered a cluster of 35 pyramids.

Kendall told National Geographic, “The general public is familiar with Egypt and pharaohs, but it is not so aware that there was a highly important, sophisticated, and independent civilization in Nubia, which is now northern Sudan.”


The support provided by the agreement with Qatar will allow archaeologists to continue to make and share discoveries that will shed new light on the history of the country.

The funds will also help renovate (improve by rebuilding) the National Museum of Sudan. Qatar also hopes to attract tourists to Sudan who are interested in the fascinating history of the region.

Claude Rilly directs the French Archaeological Unit in Sudan. He believes Sudan’s history is a key part of African history. He told The New York Times, “The history of Sudan can play a role for Africa that Greece played for the history of Europe.”

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