Derek Welsby: Sudan's heritage is of importance to the world

From a speech by the curator in the British Museum's department of ancient Egypt and Sudan
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The Independent Online

The British Museum is one of the many institutions around the world conducting research on the archaeology of Sudan, as it has for over a century.

The exhibition Sudan, Ancient Treasures, opening at the British Museum on 9 September, coincides with the centenary of the founding of the Khartoum Museum, and will focus attention on the rich cultural heritage of Sudan, long in the shadow of its northern neighbour, Egypt.

Most of the objects come from recent excavations, and are drawn from the museum's stores and the excavators' magazines dotted around northern Sudan. Few have been on public display and many are little known even to specialists.

The final section is devoted to the current threat to the archaeology of Sudan, the construction of a dam at the Fourth Cataract, due for completion by 2008. In response to an international appeal from Sudan's National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, the British Museum is playing an important role supporting the Sudan Archaeological Research Society.

Sudan is the largest country in Africa, and has for millennia been the zone of contact between the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern world and that of Sub-Saharan Africa. Its heritage is of more than regional interest.

The exhibition seeks to illustrate all the major cultures of Sudan from around 200,000 years ago up to the late 19th century, and provides a background against which modern Sudan, with its problems and its vast potential, can be better understood.