(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Doha: Within six months, Qatar Museums (QM) has been honoured for the unprecedented support it offers to the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP) by two prestigious institutions, The International Society for Nubian Studies (ISNS) which met last September at Louvre, Paris, and this May by The Sudan Archaeological Research Society (SARS) Annual Meeting, held at the British Museum in London.
The aim of the QSAP is it to investigate, preserve and promote Sudan's remarkable heritage and history. It represents a bold and transformative approach to heritage resource management for Sudanese Nubia designed to consolidate and preserve ancient sites by supporting archaeological surveys of unexplored landscapes and the excavation and conservation of these sites.
ISNS provides focus for those interested in the archaeology and history of Nubia and Sudan, and seeks to promote awareness of the rich cultural heritage of this region. Every four years, the ISNS gathers archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and academics from all over the world, who are specialised in studying the very rich heritage of ancient Nubia and Sudan. Through the support of QM, the organisers of the conference were able to bring a large group of young Sudanese scholars to France where they could present the results of their work and enter into discussions with senior scholars.
Dr Vincent Rondot, Director of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the Louvre and main organiser of the conference, hailed QM's generosity as 'an extremely valuable contribution to international scholarship and a warm gesture of humanity.
SARS promotes the research of Sudan's past, through archaeological fieldwork, international conferences and publication, including the journal Sudan & Nubia in which a variety of QSAP-missions published their results.
A general view of the pyramids site at Meroe.
Dr Neal Spencer, Assistant Keeper at the Department of Ancient Egypt and Honorary Chairman of the SARS said: 'QSAP has transformed the research, protection, and presentation of Sudan's archaeological heritage. The sustained support over the last six years has enabled archaeological projects from international museums and universities to work with our Sudanese colleagues from the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums in a manner and scale not previously possible.
Prof Thomas Leisten, Acting Chief Archaeology Officer at QM said: 'We are greatly honoured to receive such recognition from the international community. At Qatar Museums, we believed that Sudan's rich cultural heritage deserved attention and thus were able to set up such an exemplary program. This is the essence of our global commitment and interest in celebrating and preserving cultural history, heritage and traditions as well as putting people in touch with their past.
QM provides funding through QSAP to 42 missions from 25 institutions in 12 countries. This program has involved annually more than 200 international experts from 35 countries in all disciplines, but also trained on an annual basis about 50 young Sudanese in these fields. In addition, ca. 900 Sudanese workers and technicians from local communities were employed by various projects that involved excavation and conservation of heritage sites.
Within the last six years, QSAP missions discovered almost 7000 new sites, and almost 8000 valuable objects were recovered (alongside hundreds of thousands of ceramic shards and other objects).
More than 160 sites were protected through fencing and other measures, and 42 sites benefited from new management programs that aimed at planning protection, conservation and presentation. A total of 102 sites and buildings underwent complete or partial restoration and so did thousands of objects, including mural paintings, reliefs and inscriptions. More than 120 structures were completely excavated, representing a total surface of more than 68,000 sq m. More than 250 publications and media programmes were published for broader and scholarly audiences, while another 50 events and programmes targeted the involvement of local communities.
Tourists can now learn about history and art at 22 site museums and visitor centres and stay overnight in two luxurious compounds near Sudan's World Heritage Sites of Meroe and Jabal Barkal.