Purpose and Goals of QSAP
The Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP) was initiated in 2012 by the states of Qatar and Sudan with the aim to support the exploration of Sudan’s rich ancient heritage, to contribute to its preservation for the future and to promote domestic and international tourism to sites of cultural interest.
QSAP, registered in Sudan as a non-governmental organisation under the name “Nubian Archaeological Development Organisation” (NADO), works closely with both the Sudanese National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums and its Qatari counterpart, Qatar Museums. Within this framework, QSAP/NADO serves as an umbrella for currently 41 missions engaged in surveying unexplored landscapes, the excavation and conservation of ancient monuments, the construction of new visitor centers, but also the study of the ancient Meroitic language in the regions along the banks of the Nile and in the hinterlands of the northern part of Sudan.
Collectively, their research contributes significantly to the reconstruction of Sudan’s civilizations and cultures, creating a stunning amount of archaeological and historical records in the process that give new insight into Sudan’s history, spanning more than 350,000 years from the early prehistoric period of Sudan to the Kushite empires of Kerma, Napata and Meroe, down to medieval Christian and Islamic times.
Through its engagement with numerous missions working there, QSAP is heavily engaged with two Sudanese sites inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List: the “Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe,” and “Jebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan and Meroitic Periods.” A particular focus is given by the Mission 40, the Qatari Mission, to the stabilization of some of the over 250 Sudanese pyramids.
What QSAP Does
The five-year project offers sustained financial support to the teams from eight countries: Sudan, Qatar, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Funding for QSAP represents worldwide the hitherto most extensive targeted investment into the discovery of a nation’s culture and history. As a result, the domestic and international missions are in the position not only to work for longer periods at their sites, as their normal annual budgets would have allowed them to do. They are also in the position to undertake additional time-consuming and expensive procedures such as the conservation of buildings, wall paintings, and objects, construct permanent shelters, bring in additional experts and also create didactic panels and brochures for the public to experience their work. In short, QSAP’s funding of the missions propels both research on and presentation of Sudan’s cultural heritage in a dramatic way.
In addition to the work carried out by the missions, QSAP has built two well-appointed visitor camps close to the World Heritage Sites of Meroe (modern Bagrawiya) and Jebel Barkal, Dohat Meroe and Dohat Bagrawiya. Planned originally in order to provide lodging and working facilities for the QSAP scholars engaged in the sites nearby, the camps will remain as a legacy to the State of Sudan and soon serve to house cultural tourists during their visits in the area. Beyond this, it is planned to utilize parts of those camps to provide space for field schools aimed at training Sudanese students in archaeological fieldwork, basic conservation and training courses for Sudanese tourist guides. These field schools will also incorporate libraries to enrich the knowledge of interested students and tourists and serve as reference libraries for the researchers.
QSAP funding has played an important role in the process of raising awareness for the county’s cultural heritage through public outreach and the establishment of local visitor centers. In this vein, it continues to play an important role in fostering young Sudanese to find a vocation in the heritage sector and to anchor and advance a cultural tourism industry within local communities.
To oversee this initiative, a joint Qatari-Sudanese Steering Committee, composed of members of Qatar Museum’s leadership as well as of the Sudanese ministries of Investment as well as Tourism and Wildlife was set up and continues to monitor it. It is is supported by a Scientific Board, composed of international scholars, many of whom have longstanding experience in working within Sudan, and of members of Qatar Museum’s Division of Cultural Heritage. The Scientific Board meets on a regular basis to assess and verify the project’s progress and to submit its recommendation to the Steering Committee and QM’s Division of Cultural Heritage.