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THE MODERN EXPLORERS


The building of the two Aswan dams in Egyptian Nubia, induces three archaeological campaigns where the researches are made according to the different phases of construction and raising.

 

In 1907, the profits of the cotton production motivate the Anglo-Egyptians to proceed at the first upper elevation of the "small dam" planned by the British engineer Willcocks. This dam had the particularity to let the mud to go through and up to the North before the new flood, but Lower Nubia was immersed until Ouadi es-Seboua (over 160 km).

 

To learn more, click here (annexe 1)

 

Another two upper elevations in 1912 and 1934 (about 10 m high), drowns Lower Nubia until the Egypto-Sudanese border. Some lands are only useful in June and July when the dam water-gates are opened in order to empty the reservoir lake.

 

Gaston Maspero (1846-1916), Auguste Mariette's successor at the head of the Egyptian Antiquities of Egypt, commands two surveys: one, about the temples which will be put under water and another one about the threatened area. The results? Since Aswan until Abou Simbel, the temples of Philae, Debod, Kertassi, Taffa, Beit el-Ouali, Kalabsha, Dendour, Gerf Hussein, Dakke, Meharraqa, Ouadi es-Seboua, Amada, Derr and El-Lessiya, will disappear.

 

From 1907 to 1911, Maspero asks to a scientific group to index the remains temples. Their works are compiled in the publication: Temples immergés de la Nubie. The survey is entrusted to the American George A. Reisner with the help of Cecil M. Firth. Over 200 km and until Derr, situated South-West of the old Ouadi es-Seboua, all Lower Nubia is explored "metre by metre, Nord-South and again in South-North" according to Jean Vercoutter.

 

This first campaign allows a very important compiling. In 1911, Maspero writes in his Documents, the state of Lower Nubia Temples and the Anglo-Saxons publish The Archaeological Survey of Nubia in Cairo (1905, 1912, and 1927). Other Scientifics work in Lower Nubia: H. Junker at Toschka and G. Steindorff at Aniba, former residence of the Egyptians vice-kings during the New Empire (about 1450-1050 BC).

 

To learn more, click here (annexe 2)

 

Société des Cultures Nubiennes

From 1929 to 1934, the second upper elevation is preceded by a similar campaign, the immersion reaching the Adindan area. The prospecting is given to the British W.B. Emery and L.P. Kirwan who publish in 1935: Excavation and Survey Between Wadi es-Sebua and Adindan (1929-1931). The results confirm the works of their predecessors and are completed by a study on the Royal Tombs of Ballana and Qustul (Cairo 1938). In 1950, a compiling of thirty volumes allows to say that Lower Nubia was, in some archaeological way, better known that Egypt itself !

 

What about Sudanese Nubia? Although the Middle Nile area was not threatened, the Oriental Institute of Chicago sends in 1906, a mission led by J.H. Breasted. Next year, a report is published. In the same time, the American Reisner (1867-1942) puts in light the Sudanese Archaeology. He is Richard Lepsius' successor and discovers Kerma civilization near the Third Cataract.

 

To learn more, click here (annexe 3)

 

In the years 1940, A.J. Arkell studies the prehistoric period. His researches are on the great phases of the Pleistocene (the Paleolithic) and Holocene (the Mesolithic and the Neolithic). He publishes in 1949 : The Old Stone Age in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and Early Khartoum. His successor, P.L. Shinnie, writes Koush, first Antiquities Service publication .

 

In 1956, when Sudan gets its independence, the Direction of Antiquities and Anthropology is given to Jean Vercoutter (1956-1960), first French Archaeologist to work in Sudan. He has the big responsibility to save a maximum of temple remains with a minimum of means during the construction of the High-Dam of Aswan.

His works show the importance of the disappeared monuments and the damage for the Sudanese patrimony.

 

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scn egypte soudan nil desert nubie nubia pyramides cataractes meroe kawa djebel barkal kerma ile de sai
scn egypte soudan nil desert nubie nubia pyramides cataractes meroe kawa djebel barkal kerma ile de sai