Friday, 28 December 2012

23rd December – Ed Damer Archaeological Museum

On my way between the Ed Damer schools and home I pass an archaeology museum, part of the local university archaeology department, which I have wanted to visit, but never seen open. 

Today I arrived at my girls’ school in Ed Damer to find that they were taking exams and there would be no English lessons.  I decided to go back home.  On my way home, as I passed by the museum, I saw a man come out of the gate to the archaeology department.  I seized my chance and asked with gestures if I could visit the museum.  He beckoned me inside to an office where I sat and waited.  After a while a woman who spoke some English came and explained that the museum was being cleaned but would be open very soon.  We talked about Sudanese archaeological sites for a while.  Then we went into the museum, where she acted as guide.  Like most museums in Khartoum, there is no entrance fee.
Neolithic bowl
The museum is small, consisting of two rooms, although apparently there are plans for a larger museum.  The museum turned out to be very well organised by chronological age from the Neolithic to early Christian.  Prehistory in Sudan is a great deal earlier than in Europe.  One only has to remember that Stonehenge (built in Britain’s Neolithic/early Bronze ages) was contemporary with Ancient Egypt to get an idea of this.  The museum contains artifacts from the whole of Sudan rather than the local area. 

Napatan incense burner
Pots from the Egyptian New Kingdom era

I was told that the main visitors to the museum are school groups and tourists.  Tourists?  What tourists?  I think that, like statements I hear about passenger trains and postal services, this is a figment of a wished-for Sudan, rather than the reality.  This is a great shame as there is so much to see, whether it is camel markets, the River Nile in its unspoilt loveliness, deserts, and of course, the wonderful archaeological sites.  Not to mention meeting the people themselves, who are the soul of hospitality.
Christian tomb inscription (a very moving prayer which is given in translation below).

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