Panorama of Jebel Barkal in 2018. Photo by Gregory Tucker.

Kelsey Associate Research Scientist Geoff Emberling and his colleague Fawzi Hassan Bakhiet of Neelain University in Khartoum have been awarded an African Heritage and Humanities Initiative Seed Grant from U-M's African Studies Center. The grant will provide funding for the initial phase of a project, "Archaeological Survey in the Heart of Ancient Kush," the long-term aim of which is to investigate the history of settlement and land use near the site of Jebel Barkal in northern Sudan.

Jebel Barkal is a sandstone outcrop along the Nile that was sacred to ancient Nubians and Egyptians. At the base of the mountain was a succession of settlements, now covered by desert sands and sediment from the annual Nile flood. The Kelsey Museum, under the direction of Geoff Emberling, has been investigating the site of Jebel Barkal itself since 2016. The AHHI seed grant will fund the exploration of the area surrounding Barkal, including the Nile floodplain, the immediately adjacent desert edge (where modern settlement is concentrated), and along routes into the desert. By investigating the urban center of Jebel Barkal within the context of its broader landscape, the team hopes to better understand the connections between Barkal and its rural hinterland.

In January and February of 2023, Emberling, Bakhiet, and a small team of Sudanese students will visit and map sites and landscape features and collect and analyze ceramics. They will also meet with local community members to discuss the project and draw on their knowledge of local archaeological and heritage features. IPCAA alumnus Gregory Tucker, who has worked with the team in northern Sudan over the past six years, will lend his expertise in the analysis of satellite imagery and identification of areas that would reward further field study. In addition, he will provide training in these methods to Sudanese colleagues and students.

Learn more about Jebel Barkal at the project website,