On Tuesday, September 7, 2020, the Sudanese authorities announced flood threats at top historical sites of Meroe and Nuri pyramids. According to a report, the floods have been caused by heavy rainfalls which have triggered a rise in the River Nile to a record-breaking level.
River Nile, Sudan’s main water source often overflows its banks and farmers did rely on the flood to boost Agriculture. But, the outburst of the Nile this year has been completely unprecedented as over a hundred people have lost their lives and tens of thousands displaced.
It is also reported that sandbag walls have been built to protect the sites while efforts are being made to pump water out of them. According to Marc Maillot, an Archaeologist in Sudan, “the situation is currently under control, but if the level of the Nile continues to rise, the measures taken may not be sufficient.”
Egypt comes to mind at the mention of “pyramids” and pharaohs. Interestingly, Sudan also had a history of Nubian rulers known as the black pharaohs and even more pyramids than its neighbouring Egypt.
The Archaeological Sites of Meroe is a semi-desert landscape between the Nile and Atbara rivers. This was the heartland of the Kingdom of Kush, a major power from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. The sites consists of the royal city of the Kushite kings at Meroe, near the River Nile, the nearby religious site of Naqa and Musawwarat es Sufra. It was the seat of the rulers who occupied Egypt for close to a century and features, among other vestiges, pyramids, temples and domestic buildings as well as major installations connected to water management.
The Nuri and Meroe pyramids are estimated to be a group of about 200 structures that are over 2,500 years old. These structures were used to bury members of the royal class in ancient Sudan. The pyramids are home to important ancient ruins. They are a mainstay of nearly every of Sudan itinerary and among Africa’s most impressive archaeological sites.
The Nubian pyramids are not as gigantic as those of Egypt. Most had their tops blown off when, Giuseppe Ferlini, an Italian soldier turned treasure hunter, demolished them in the 19th century in search of buried valuables. The sites are a part of UNESCO heritage sites in Africa.
In 2018, Sudan recorded a total of 836,000 visitors in tourism, a huge percentage of who visited the ancient Nubian pyramids. The sector generated $1.04 billion, accounting for 4.0 percent of its 2018 GDP. But since the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic started, international travel bans have shut down the global tourism industry, a shock for Sudan’s tourism. If the government does not put in more effort to save these important sites, the tourism sector may not be able to recover from the adverse effects.