Save Nubia, or 5,000 years of African history will be lost

Manu Ampim

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Flooding of Ancient Kush and Nubia

The Sudanese government has recently secured construction contracts for several dams, and the work on these hydroelectric projects will start soon without any announcement. Once these projects are completed, they will immediately flood all nearby archaeological sites.


Soleb Temple 2 is near the third cataract in Sudan and will likely be flooded if the Kajbar Dam is built.

The construction will begin without notification or announcement because of the major protests from local Nubians, who are disputing the benefits of the construction of the Dal Dam (second cataract) and Kajbar Dam (third cataract). The Sudanese government has indicated that the dams will create additional electricity for the benefit of the local citizens, and electricity is indeed an uncontested necessity for a country to develop, but the means to acquire this electricity is often contested and controversial.

The goal of these projects is to create electricity, but the Sudanese government has not demonstrated concern about the social, environmental and archaeological impact of these projects. Also, the Sudanese government has not considered cleaner, less devastating, alternative energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines.

The local Nubian citizens in the affected areas do not agree that these hydroelectric projects will benefit them, and this is based on their past experience with the construction of the Aswan High Dam in 1970, which flooded an important Nubian region in northern Sudan and southern Egypt. The Aswan Dam created a 340-mile long lake which flooded 39 Nubian villages and submerged innumerable priceless artifacts.

Thus, the Nubians are convinced that the current hydroelectric projects are simply part of an ongoing scheme to erase their culture. For example, the Nubian environmental scientist Dr. Arif Gamal notes, “By flooding the last of the remaining Nubian lands … the Nubians are reduced to a group of people with no sense of memory, no past and no future too.”

The Nubian voices should be respected in this matter because they are the affected community, and the World Commission on Dams has clearly indicated in its November 2000 report that “no dam should be built without the demonstrable acceptance of the affected people.”

Project mission

The mission of the Save Nubia Project (SNP) is to help raise national and international awareness about the pending flooding of the central areas of the ancient Kushite and Nubian civilizations in the Sudan. There are a series of dams (from the second through fifth cataracts) scheduled for construction, each of which will cause the Nile River to back up and create a reservoir and flood countless ancient archaeological sites and displace well over 100,000 local Sudanese people. Thus, the Save Nubia Project’s task is to document that the dam construction areas in northern and central Sudan are valuable World Heritage Sites that are in danger of being destroyed, and should be preserved.


The Aswan High Dam, completed in 1970, partially flooded the Philae Temple until this structure was moved to higher ground to avoid the flood waters.

The SNP’s focus is three-fold:

1) To document, record and publish historical and archaeological evidence on the importance of this historic northern and central Sudan region;

2) To present compelling evidence to UNESCO, which has the authority to designate the Sudanese dam areas as World Heritage Sites under threat, which may help protect these areas from dam construction and inundation. There are other sources of energy available in Sudan, such as solar panels and wind turbines; and

3) To assist the local Nubian people near the second and third cataracts to build a series of museums to help preserve their heritage.


This tomb painting of Kushite princes is threatened.