Panorama of Jebel Barkal and pyramids from the south. Image: Gregory Tucker, 2018

Occupying more than 100 hectares along the Nile in northern Sudan, Jebel Barkal is an extraordinary archaeological site preserving the remains of a capital city of ancient Kush: one of Africa’s earliest and most important empires. In Arabic, “Jebel Barkal” means “Holy Mountain,” and the site formed around a tall, dramatic sandstone outcrop that was sacred to ancient Kushites and Egyptians. At the base of this mountain was a succession of settlements, now covered by desert sands and sediment from the annual Nile flood. It was an important city in ancient Kush for more than 1000 years (800 BCE – 300 CE) and was also the southernmost outpost of the Egyptian empire when it had conquered Kush (1500-1069 BCE). In addition to the ancient city, the site is also home to the ruins of pyramid tombs, temples, and palaces. Because of its exceptional historical importance, Jebel Barkal is at the center of a UNESCO World Heritage area.

Map showing location of Jebel Barkal. Map: Lorene Sterner, 2021

Currently, excavations of the Jebel Barkal Archaeological Project (JBAP) are directed by archaeologists Geoff Emberling of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan and El-Hassan Ahmed Mohamed of the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), Sudan. Conservation is directed by conservators Suzanne Davis, also of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, and Mustafa El-Sharif, of NCAM. Our project is an international collaboration involving scholars, staff, and students from Africa, the Americas, and Europe. It also engages a range of communities that have connections to the site, including residents of the nearby city of Kareima and the villages of Upper and Lower Jebel Barkal.  

We invite you to explore this website to learn more about our work, and we welcome media inquiries. To learn how you can support our work, please contact project co-director Geoff Emberling

Get real-life archaeology in your inbox! A few times a month we send short updates on our work, related news, and events.

Latest Posts

  • Jebel Barkal at the Getty Museum!
    Hello everyone! I will be giving a talk about Jebel Barkal at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles this coming Saturday, December 3 at 3 pm Pacific time. If you have heard me speak about Barkal this year, there will not be much that is new in this talk (although of course I keep making …

    Jebel Barkal at the Getty Museum! Read More »

  • Agriculture and plants at Jebel Barkal
    There is so much that we don’t know about the ancient city at Jebel Barkal, and one fundamental group of questions concerns what plants they grew for food (and other uses) and how their agriculture might have changed over time because of changing local environment, climate, and even cultural preferences. We asked Dorian Fuller at …

    Agriculture and plants at Jebel Barkal Read More »

  • Nubian Studies conference
    We recently returned from the 15th International Conference for Nubian Studies at the University of Warsaw. Our hosts in Warsaw organized the conference beautifully, and it was particularly good to see the excellent representation of about 50 Sudanese and 15 Egyptian scholars who were able to come to Warsaw. Funding for travel costs is always …

    Nubian Studies conference Read More »

  • Jebel Barkal summer update
    Hello everyone! It’s August, which for some of us means we’re at the peak of summer, and for others it starts to feel like the fall semester is getting close. The University of Michigan starts classes on August 29 this year, which is unusually early, so many of us here are starting to think about …

    Jebel Barkal summer update Read More »

  • Discover Magazine article
    I was recently contacted by a writer, Josh Learn, who was writing an article about Kush for Discover Magazine. It has just come out and it’s excellent: https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/the-rise-fall-and-underestimated-rule-of-kush. Nice to see the word getting out!
Excavation team at Jebel Barkal. Photo: Taylor Bryanne Woodcock, 2019

lsa logoum logoU-M Privacy StatementAccessibility at U-M