Qatar Museums (QM), under the auspices of the Qatar Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP), shared updates on one of the key missions working to preserve and protect the heritage of Sudan.

The Qatari Mission for the Pyramids of Sudan (QMPS), one of the 42 missions supported by QSAP, has re-opened the burial chamber of Pyramid 9 in Meroe. The burial chamber is located at a depth of 10 metres under King Adikhalamani’s Pyramid No. 9, who ruled the Kingdom of Meroe between 207 BCE and 186 BCE.

The re-opening of the tomb is part of QMPS’ research and conservation programme designed to preserve and investigate more than 100 pyramids in the royal cemeteries at Meroe by a team of international experts. Conservation and security measures are planned to keep the historically important site open for the public.

Prof. Thomas Leisten, Acting Chief Archaeology Officer at QM, said:

‘Sudan’s rich cultural heritage deserves attention and Qatar Museums has a commitment and interest in celebrating and preserving cultural history, heritage and traditions and putting people in touch with their past. We have had a very successful five years with QSAP helping to build the knowledge and material infrastructure to sustain the country’s heritage and are looking forward to further accomplishments in the remaining years of the initiative.’

Four centuries after their ancestors ruled Egypt as the ‘Black Pharaohs’ of the 25th Dynasty during the 7th century BCE, the Kings and Queens of Meroe created a vast empire in present day Sudan. The centre of this kingdom was its capital at Meroe, situated about 200 km north of present-day Khartoum.

Painted wall chambers inside the pyramids of Meroe

The recent research activities at Meroe are part of a large-scale programme that aims to investigate, preserve and promote the remarkable royal pyramid necropolises of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Meroe. It was initiated by QMPS in close cooperation with the Sudanese National Cooperation of Antiquities and Museums and the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin.

Under the QSAP umbrella more broadly, the State of Qatar, represented by QM, has provided more than $50 million in financial support for the archaeological missions working in Sudan since 2012. This unprecedented investment has enabled dramatic change in the way research, preservation and education are carried out around Sudan’s historical landmarks.

As part of QSAP, QM is currently funding 42 missions from 25 institutions and 12 countries involved in the excavation and conservation of heritage sites that date from the prehistoric era until the pre-modern period.

As a result of the funding offered by QSAP, local and international missions are able to work for several months, recruiting additional experts and using innovative and cutting-edge technologies, including 3D modelling, photography and sophisticated anthropological survey techniques.

Recording of the archaeological finds in Meroe, Sudan

All these activities are supported by the dissemination of research results, the digitisation and cataloguing of archival documents that have not previously been accessible to researchers in Sudan and universities abroad, and the presentation of information to the general public, including university students, to build local capacity in Sudan.

‘Led by Sudan and Qatar, QSAP has been designed from the start as an international project which brings together missions made up of world-leading experts from a variety of institutions to collaborate and support one another. To date, the project has had significant impact on the developments of Sudan’s heritage sector and unearthed some incredible finds, which we look forward to showcasing,’ added Prof. Leisten. 

QM connects the museums, cultural institutions and heritage sites in Qatar and creates the conditions for them to thrive and flourish. It provides a comprehensive organisation for the development of museums and cultural projects, with a long term ambition of creating a strong and sustainable cultural infrastructure for Qatar. Under the patronage of the Emir, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and led by its Chairperson, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, QM is consolidating Qatar’s efforts to become a vibrant centre for the arts, culture and education, in the Middle East and beyond.