Saving Sudan’s National Treasures

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentarySudan’s civil war is killing thousands of people, and devastating regions of the country. Just as perilous is the possible loss of the country’s national treasures. Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt, and was in fact the place where pottery and metalwork techniques were invented by humanity. Sudan actually has a history that stretches as far back in time as Egypt’s ancient civilization. Even though archaeologists have made great strides in unearthing Sudan’s great civilization of Nubia, there is still much more that has yet to be discovered. Three thousand year-old temples and monuments near the National Museum in Khartoum stand as a reminder that this part of Africa remained outside of ancient Roman control, and despite Roman efforts to conquer Nubia the Nubian state remained independent.

A lot of Sudan’s national treasures and monuments are now in danger of either being destroyed or looted by either rebel armies or the Sudanese army itself. An organization called the Heritage for Peace, an international non-government organization dedicated to preserve a country’s heritage from war or natural disaster, is working with both the Sudanese government and the rebels to try and preserve the country’s national treasures. Made up of experts in the field of archaeology as well as museum personnel in helping countries maintain their museums, Heritage for Peace has already sent experts to protect Sudan’s treasures. Also, Heritage for Peace has helped station guards at various museums and archaeological sites near the capital Khartoum. While this has helped, there are still too many museums and archaeological sites that are unprotected and have already been looted. In the country’s populous city of Omdurman, thousands of archives at Omdurman Ahlia University have been either looted or set on fire.

One of the first casualties of war is a country’s cultural heritage. This is now happening to Sudan. Both the Sudanese government and Heritage for Peace are working desperately to evacuate art treasures from those museums in the war zones, save personnel working in these museums and archives from being killed or going missing in the war, and try to educate both sides in the conflict that once their cultural heritage is destroyed it is lost forever. Heritage for Peace has experience in working in war zones such as Syria and Ukraine, and hopefully this organization can help to save and protect Sudan’s national treasures from being lost to humanity.

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