Name of Mission Abasseya Project
Mission No. QSAP 35
Institution Wahat Projects
Location Karima, Northern State
The Abasseya site is located about 600 meters northwest of the sacred mountain, Jebel Barkal, so is geographically linked to the worship area. The space between Jebel and Abbaseya contains several architectural remains, which argue against the possibility of Abasseya having been a completely independent zone. The large area covered by the Abasseya site, nowadays a neighborhood plaza of the town of Karima, consists of four sectors, scheduled as A (B2600), B (B2500), C (B2700) and D. Only Abasseya sector B (B2500), the largest and best preserved building, is visible today.
Structure B2500 is a building with a rectangular plan, which has been identified as a temple, forming together with B2600 and B2700 a unity known as a Meroitic complex. The excavation has uncovered the podium where the building was located, along with several structures situated around this podium and related to the original building. The structure, orientated according to an east-west axis, has an unusual shape, with two non-aligned entrances. The material found at the destruction level of the building allows us to understand its original shape clearly.
It is worth emphasising the find of several column fragments that have partially retained their decoration. One of the coloured columns has been rebuilt and is now exhibited in the nearby Barkal Museum.
B2600 is a rectangular structure standing 40 cm above the ancient street level and showing several internal walls that subdivide the building into 14 chambers. The access consists on a small stepped ramp oriented towards B2500. The excavated chambers were located beneath the use level of the building, and belonged to the foundations of that level. Therefore, it is impossible to know the actual shape of the building standing on top of this platform. The holes in some of the walls of the structure and the fill-up layers correspond mainly to the later use of the area as a cemetery.
Building B2700 is a square structure with sides 5 metres long, formed by large sandstone blocks. On the westerns side, two sandstone blocks seem to elongate the building, giving it a clear orientation towards B2500. Only the first row of sandstone blocks has remained, therefore, there is little additional information available. Comparing B2700 with structures with a similar footprint found in different Meroitic sites, the building has been interpreted as an outer altar.
The architectural characteristics, the proximity and the orientation of the structures found in the different sectors, together with the examination of the archaeological material recovered, indicate that a relationship would have existed between the buildings and that they functioned together at a given time. These different buildings would have had a ritual function, forming a typical Meroitic worship complex. The structures at Abbaseya are similar to what has been found at other sites in Sudan and can be related to ceremonies performed by the Meroitic kings. The proximity to the sacred mountain of Jebel Barkal only reinforces this hypothesis.
In addition to excavations, conservation and restoration work has been performed at B2500. The team has focused on cleaning and consolidating the remnants of plaster that once covered the podium. Also, as part of the pre-exhibition work, the mission has completed the restoration of the two access ramps and the internal and external walls of the podium, as one of the goals of the project is it to prepare the site for visits by the public.