Redazione Archaeogate, 03-03-2009
The 2009 season of the Italian Mission at Jebel Barkal was carried out between February 11th and 25th. The team was headed by Prof. Alessandro Roccati of Torino University and Prof. Emanuele Ciampini of Venice University "Ca' Foscari". The members were Prof. Grazyna Bakowska, archaeologist, of Rzeszow University (Poland), Prof. Giampietro Bakovic, photographer, Arch. Giuseppe Caputi, field advisor, and Dr. Aryčle Boccara, medical visitor. The appointed official from NCAM was Mr. Mortada Bushara Mohamed, as in the previous seasons. Financial and technical assistance was provided by Accademia Kronos.
Our goals were several: first, to continue excavations of two monuments of special interest for our ongoing research; second, to repair and strengthen the walls of both these structures, in order to protect newly discovered fragile architectural remains and to repair older restorations; and third, to reorganize our living situation at Karima, in order to reduce costs as much as possible.
In B2400 we continued excavating in the area near the middle of its southern side. This was the only side which appeared to have no access in correspondence with an Ionic peristyle court recognized inside the edifice. The area outside was severely disturbed in antiquity; a huge mud brick wall joined by other smaller mud brick walls was observed at a lower level, which have nothing to do with B2400. However in the sand another burial and a bronze pin was found.
In the interior of B 2400 there was only a thin layer of sand, so that the network of walls could be traced rather easily and quickly in spite of shallow holes in the ancient masonry, and its ancient layout could be surveyed throughout. Some new rooms were uncovered, with a lot of Meroitic ceramics inside (many of them with beautiful painted motifs); the walls herein were m. 1,60 wide, suggesting the original existence of an upper floor. Many bones near the surface all over the area point to its use as a late cemetery, extending as far as the Jebel. However the surface burials were mostly destroyed when the area was leveled to become a passage way.
A sounding was made in the N-W corner of the building, where the ancient red brick coating could be found at a rather deep level (about m.1.80 from the floor) as far as the foundation stones. A search for a foundation deposit gave no result. Indeed, the foundation level of this corner is much deeper than the inner mud brick walls. Another fragment of pottery engraved with a Meroitic inscription was found among the debris in B2405. However the excavations of the corner produced evidence for a buttress in the masonry, which may be compared to that of the pyramids near the Jebel.
Most of the remains of B2400 have finally been revealed. A comparison of this building with B100, excavated by Reisner, was presented at the recent Vienna Meroitic Conference, and the last observations will be used to update the paper read there. More results might perhaps be achieved through the study of ceramics, entrusted to Prof. Grazyna Bakowska, but the material from B100 is for the moment unknown.
In B2200 the area West of the "basins room" was chosen for investigation. It too proved to be much destroyed, but the lining of red bricks was here and there preserved in the foundations and to some height, so a plan could be traced to enlarge little by little our understanding of the complex. Many fragments of bread moulds were found in the inner side of the peripheral wall. In the middle of one excavated room, largely destroyed in post-Meroitic times, the remains of two (?) burials were found, one of them consisting of some reused red bricks. The mud brick walls were badly plundered.
The whole area of Jebel Barkal is of outstanding historical interest; it has therefore been classed by UNESCO among the heritage sites of Mankind. It would deserve much more protection and planning than the funds we presently have at our disposal, which are, sadly, ever more limited. The presence of our expedition is indeed a challenge, based on the conviction that such a heritage cannot be further neglected. We hope that an effort can be made toward that goal also by the Sudanese Authorities, whom we thank for their courtesy and readiness. A special thank, however, is due to the President of Accademia "Kronos", Dr. Ennio La Malfa, whose intervention has finally permitted the realization of this campaign.