Tomomi Fushiya, archaeologist
Apart from archaeological work in the ancient town, surrounding desert and cemetery, we are commencing work on site management at Amara West this season, in collaboration with the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums (Sudan), as part of the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project. More specifically, site protection measures will be taken, and first thoughts around information and interpretation for the small number of visitors that come to site.
From what are we protecting the site? It is mostly safe from modern human activities and major development. Amara West is located in an uninhabited desert area, distant from modern villages. It is however accessible by boat, or vehicles driving along the west bank. The main west bank north-south road, completed recently, runs 7km north of the site. However, looting does occur, as we found earlier this season at the Cemetery C, and there is a threat of archaeological remains being damaged through irrigation projects. One exists south of Cemetery C, while a new project is irrigating the dried up Nile channel northwest of the ancient town.
The most common threat is from vehicles driving over the fragile archaeological site – including groups of people seeking areas to mine for gold. They will be disappointed at Amara West – the site produces sherds and mudbricks by the thousands, but no precious metals – but the vehicles can cause damage in the process.
In consultation with our inspector, Shadia Abdu Rabo, the local survey office and police, we decided to surround the town site, cemeteries C and D with a fence, to protect the significant archaeological remains from these human-made threats. The fence, finished today, will help dissuade vehicles from accidentally driving across the site, and define the archaeological area more clearly. We did not want to drastically alter the landscape – so have opted for a simple metal fence. This is not very visible from a distance (unlike any large concrete wall), while also being resistant to the wind and scouring sand that would undermine any mudbrick or redbrick wall erected here.
The next step is the construction of a police post, which will include an area with information on the site, its history and ongoing research.
Alongside regular updates on the blog, follow the season on Twitter: @NealSpencer_BM and #amarawest