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

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Excavation team at Jebel Barkal. Photo: Taylor Bryanne Woodcock, 2019

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