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us in our attempt to save an archaeological and cultural
SALHA PROJECT (CENTRAL SUDAN): THE 2001 CAMPAIGN
El Salha archaeological project, named from the largest modern
village in the area, started in November 2000. A second campaign,
with the financial support of the Italian Institute for Africa
and the Orient, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the
Michela Schiff Giorgini Foundation and the sponsorship of
the Italian firm GASID of Turin, was carried out between November
and December 2001.
The surveyed area is located south of Omdurman. Starting from
the western bank of the White Nile it stretches to the west
for 35 km to reach the Jebel Baroka hills (Fig. 1).
Our first goal is to plot on a map all the archaeological
evidence present in the area and to collect relevant data
on environmental transformations and human adaptation from
the Palaeolithic to the Middle Age.
The choice of the area was oriented by the hypothesis of a
peculiar role played by Central Sudan in the human society
development between Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene times.
A second reason for choosing this area was the strong urbanisation
process which is investing it as a consequence of the capital
area expansion. Such an uncontrolled urban growth is destroying
important archaeological sites, both settlements and graveyards.
further aim of our project is to look for evidence of the
most ancient human frequentation, antedating the Early Holocene
Mesolithic groups based on a hunting-gathering-fishing economy.
Actually, the presence of human groups along the Nile Valley
during the Late Pleistocene, 40.000-10.000 BP, is known only
to the north of the 4th cataract.
We are better informed about later developments when the area
was densely peopled by groups of foragers and subsequently
by Neolithic populations whose economy was based upon cattle
breading, sheep-rising, and agriculture. At this stage a more
complex social organisation developed as highlighted by a
number of Neolithic cemeteries since now excavated north of
Khartoum and in Sudanese Nubia (Esh Shaheinab, El Ghaba, Kadero,
Kadada, R12, Kadruka) (Fig. 2).
gap in the cultural sequence of Central Sudan is centred between
the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC to the rising of the Kushite
kingdom and of the later Christian kingdom of Alwa whose capital
was in Soba, 22 km to the south-east of the White and Blue
Nile confluence (Fig. 3).