SUDAN: TRAVELING TO THE HEART OF AFRICAN-ARAB CULTURE
– by Barbara Sansone
As OriginalWorld Tours prepares for travel to Sudan, we wanted to share with you something of what makes one of the largest countries in Africa so special. While Sudan conjures images of war and poverty, many travelers know less about the stories of ancient kingdoms, such as Kush and Nubia. For anyone with an archeological fascination, Sudan is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa that has ongoing archeological teams working to unearth historical treasures.
One of the most overlooked facts is that Sudan has more pyramids than its neighbor to the North, Egypt, in places like Nuri and Bijrawiyah. On Original World’s Sudan tour, we will be visiting the nation’s capital, Khartoum, where we will see Mahdi’s tomb and explore the souk. Traveling along the north to the desert and Meroe we will pass by the pyramids of the necropolis. More than forty pyramids are along the Nile.
Meroe was a wealthy kingdom in Southern Egypt, bordered on three sides by the waters of the Nile, which flourished from between 800 BCE to 350 CE. Meroe is the most extensive archaeological site in the Republic of Sudan. The island of Meroe, a semi-desert landscape between the Nile and Atbara rivers, was formerly the heartland of the Kingdom of Kush, a major power from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.
Sudan is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries in the world. While the official languages are literary Arabic and English, Sudanese culture melds the beliefs and practices of nearly 600 tribes. Approximately 70+ languages are native to Sudan. In the North and Central parts of Sudan, Islam dominates religious life along the Niger. In Southern Sudan, the influence of Christianity is expressed by the local populace ranging from Catholic to Anglican to other forms of Christian belief.
JOURNEY TO OLD DONGOLA
Jebel Barkal, in the Nubian Desert, is considered a landmark formerly used by traders between Central Africa, Arabia, and Egypt. In 2003, Jebel Barkal was named a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Scattered in three different locations are a large number of pyramids. We’ll visit two tombs excavated from the rock under the pyramids in the village of El Kurru. Our Sudanese tour continues as we follow the Nile until we reach the archaeological site Old Dongola. Evidence of the Christian, medieval period abounds in Old Dongola. The remains of a dozen churches have been excavated including a Christian Coptic temple with marble columns but the most prominent building to survive is the massive Throne Hall with meter thick walls, built between the 9th and 10th centuries.
SUDAN’S ARCHAEOLOGICAL FUTURE
Sudan’s government recently signed a $135 million agreement with Qatar that would provide money for 27 archaeological missions, the renovation of the Sudan National Museum and the development of tourism projects.
OriginalWorld Tours is fortunate to be able to offer this remarkable journey at a time when Sudan is just starting to experience a boon in archeological digs. New findings are sure to illuminate Sudanese heritage throughout the rest of the world.