Excavations in Naga: The Spring 2020 Campaign

The Spring 2020 campaign in Naga (Sudan) was unusual, to say the least. At first, all went according to plan: one part of the team (Dr. Karla Kröper and Christian Perzlmeier, M.A.), journeyed to the Sudan at the end of January and began excavations of Building 2200, a large administrative and commercial complex with at least 22 rooms yielding numerous finds, which had been partially uncovered in the Fall 2019 campaign. Visa problems prevented the second half of the team (Dr. Arnulf Schlüter and Thomas Bauer) from joining them right away. Finally, both of them were granted their visas and made it to Naga in time for the state visit of German President Steinmeier to the Republic of Sudan on February 27th, 2020. His official visit to the National Museum and the gala evening at the embassy are described in a previous post.

© Naga-Projekt
Excavation area, building Naga 1200

Over the course of the campaign, the team began excavations on another building (Naga 2100). Back in 1996, our lion statues had been visible on the surface and were immediately documented and removed in a test trench and secured in the magazine. The current goal was to determine the architectural context of the lion statues. We now know that they flanked a ramp leading to the entrance of Building 2100.  The first point of order was to set up measuring points to allow the documentation of the excavation area using mapping photographs. To this end, 1600 mapping photographs were taken using a photo-drone financed by the Friends of the Egyptian Museum Munich. Once this was done, the excavations proceeded apace. The area surveyed is of 20 x 30 m and was excavated over the course of several weeks down to over 2.5 meters in depth. The finds – pottery, small objects, remains of plaster, architectural blocks, statue fragments etc. – were documented, photographed, measured and levelled, scanned using the 3-D structured light scanner and catalogued in the Naga database.

But soon the news of the spreading COVID-19 pandemic reached the Naga team, and museum director Dr. Schoske made the only possible decision: to close the excavation down early. Arnulf Schlüter barely made it out before travel restrictions were put into place. Only a short time later, Thomas Bauer was forced to detour through Adis Abeba. Karla Kröper and Christian Perlzmeier, who had stayed behind to button up the excavation area and dig house, put the cars into storage, etc. found themselves grounded by cancelled flights. From Naga to Khartoum to Adis Abeba to Dubai to Maskat, they finally made it home safe and sound to Munich and Berlin. Naturally, the excavations will continue as soon as it is safe to do so – we hope that it might be possible to return for an autumn campaign.