Old Dongola – Preparations for Listing As World Heritage Site


The Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw and the Sudanese National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) have gone a good deal in the preparations for listing Dongola Alajooz (Old Dongola) in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites program.

The ancient city of Dongola had grown on the Eastern bank of the River Nile and was the capital of the medieval Nubian Kingdom of Makuria, one of the three kingdoms that emerged after the demise of the Kingdom of Meroe and, later on, embraced Christianity in the Sixth Century.

The Makuria Kingdom had extended (along the River Nile) from the Third Cataract down to today’s town of Abuhamad and westwards in some parts of North Kordofan. It was a flourishing kingdom, in control of trade routes, mines, and oases west and east of the Nile.

Old Dongola represents an important era in the history of Christianity and Islam. Testimony of this is its numerous cathedrals, churches, and monasteries adorned with colorful wall paintings, The Mosque, and tens of tombs in which leading religious sheikhs were buried. The Mosque, which chronicles the advent of Islam in 1317, was originally built in the 9th century serving as the richly adorned representative building of the Makurian kings.

The Polish archeological mission had been active in the digging for and the conservation of antiquities in the area ever since 1964.

The photo depicts a site tour of representatives from the mission, the UNESCO, Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project, EU Delegation to Sudan, Ministry of Tourism of the Northern State and local community, shortly before a shareholders’ meeting was to convene last week on developing the Old Dongola historical/archaeological site and the area.

Three Sudanese locations are inscribed on the World Heritage List; Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe (2011), Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region (2003), both in the Northern State, and Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Island Marine National Park (2016), the Red Sea.

Five sites are on the Tentative List including Old Dongola.

World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific, or other forms of significance of outstanding value to humanity.

There are currently a total of 1,121 World Heritage Sites (869 cultural, 213 natural, and 39 mixed properties) that exist across 167 countries.


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