AP Archive Sep 2020 : Meroe, One of Sudan’s most iconic ancient sites is threatened by floodwater as deadly flash floods ravaged swaths of the country for weeks, leaving more than 100 people dead and inundating over 100,000 since late July.
Abdel-Hai Abdel-Sawy, head of archaeological exploration department at Sudan’s National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums, told The Associated Press that floodwaters already entered the royal city of the Kushite kings at the Island of Meroe, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
He said floodwaters earlier this week reached structures known as the ‘royal baths’ where and other areas close to the Nile River, submerged parts of the city, located 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of the capital, Khartoum.
Workers have been pumping the water and erecting sand barricades to protect the island. The Island of Meroe, located at the confluence of Blue Nile, the White Nile and the Atbara River, was the heartland of the Kingdom of Kush, a major power in the ancient world from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D, according to UNESCO.
Artifacts & Pyramids
The area comprises a wide range of artifacts, including pyramids, temples, palaces, and industrial areas that shaped the political, religious, social, artistic and technological scene of the Middle and Northern Nile Valley for more than a century.
Flash floods have ravaged swaths of Sudan including the capital since late July, forcing authorities earlier this month to declare the country a natural disaster area and imposed a three-month state of emergency.
More than 550,000 people in all but one of Sudan’s 18 provinces have been affected heavy rainfall and flooding since the start of the rainy season in July, according to official statistics.
The flooding crisis came as Sudan is already facing dire economic challenges since the military’s ouster of former autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April last year. A military-civilian government now rules the country, with elections possible in late 2022.