10.16.2008

New Finds in Meroe Before Cultural Genocide in the Sudan

Some rescue excavations have been going on in Meroe before construction of a dam. Actually you could say 'damm' too, as the flooding of this area is seen by many as an attempt by the Sudanese Arabs in power to displace the local black African Sudanese population. Attention has been focused on the Darfur region, but things have been pretty bad in Meroe too - it's cultural genocide. Meroe produced the Dynasty of Black Pharaohs.

Having read through the article fully again, I'd like to make a few points:
i) This quote seems odd, as everyone in archaeology knows how rich the area is, and so Dr. Welsby didn't (which is bad), or he's pushing a British Museum PR line (which is sad):

Dr Derek Welsby, of the British Museum, said: "We had no idea how rich the area was."
ii) I'm all for 'partage' in excavations, but this makes it sound as if Sudan bribed Neil MacGregor and the British Museum to overlook what most people see as cultural genocide:

The team was able to excavate hundreds of heavy items, including large blocks adorned with rock art and 390 stones that comprised the pyramid, with the help of trucks and cranes lent by Iveco and New Holland.

The Sudanese authorities gave 20 such blocks and musical 'rock gongs', plus pottery and jewellery to the British Museum. A selection will be put on display early next year.


I know that Mr. MacGregor likes to position the BM as the cultural arm of the British Foreign Office, and he's being very very pro Africa these days, but ...

Ancient Egypt had powerful Sudan rival, British Museum dig shows - The Telegraph:
New evidence about the power of a Sudanese civilisation that once dominated ancient Egypt has come to light thanks to a British Museum expedition.

By Stephen Adams, Arts Correspondent

The Second Kushite Kingdom controlled the whole Nile valley from Khartoum to the Mediterranean from 720BC to 660BC.
Now archaeologists have discovered that a region of northern Sudan once considered a forgotten backwater once actually "a real power-base".
They discovered a ruined pyramid containing fine gold jewellery dating from about 700BC on a remote un-navigable 100-mile stretch of the Nile known as the Fourth Cataract, plus pottery from as far away as Turkey.
Other finds included numerous examples of ancient rock art and 'musical' rocks that were tapped to create a melodic sound. [continue reading]

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