Swiss archaeologist shines light on Sudan’s buried past

Charles Bonnet
Updated 10 February 2017

Swiss archaeologist shines light on Sudan’s buried past

KHARTOUM: A veteran Swiss archaeologist has unearthed three temples in Sudan built thousands of years ago, a discovery he says promises to throw new light on Africa’s buried ancient past.
The round and oval shaped structures dating from 1,500 to 2,000 BC were found late last year not far from the famed archaeological site of Kerma in northern Sudan.
Charles Bonnet, 83, considered a master student of Sudan’s rich archaeological heritage, told AFP that the sites unearthed during recent digs were unlike anything so far discovered.
“This architecture is unknown ... there is no example in central Africa or in the Nile Valley of this architecture,” Bonnet said as he wrapped up his months-long excavation.
The temples were found at Dogi Gel — “Red Hill” — located just several hundred meters from Kerma, where Bonnet and his team have been digging for decades.
“At Kerma the architecture is square or rectangular shaped... and here just a kilometer away we have round structures,” he said.
“We do not know of many round temples in the world... we do not have examples to compare.”
Bonnet, a wine grower in his youth, believes the treasure trove of three temples offer a never-before-seen insight into African ancient history, a subject that has always challenged researchers.
“Nobody knows this architecture... It is completely new,” Bonnet said, adding that the new structures did not resemble Egyptian or Nubian architecture — two ancient archaeological influences in the region.
“There are no roots today in Africa and we have to find these roots... this is the secret of Africa.”
Bonnet, who has been peeling back layers from the ancient Kingdom of Kerma (2,500 to 1,500 BC) for decades, is credited with showing that Sudan was not merely a satellite of neighboring Egypt and its wealth of ancient relics.
Years ago he unearthed the seven “black pharaohs” granite statues of Sudan’s Nubian rulers near the banks of the Nile.
Nubia was home to some of Africa’s earliest kingdoms and was known for its rich deposits of gold, ivory and ebony.
During this latest dig, Bonnet said, he also discovered “enormous fortifications” at Dogi Gel, an indication that much more awaits to be discovered at the site.
“That means this part of the world was defended by a coalition, probably of the king of Kerma with people coming from Darfur and from central Sudan” against ancient Egyptians, who were interested in controlling trade and commerce in central Africa.
Bonnet, whose excavation work in Sudan spans more than 50 years, hopes his new discoveries could help unlock some of the continent’s oldest mysteries.


Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

Updated 19 October 2019

Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

  • EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities as demanded by the US is not a genuine cease-fire
  • He calls on Ankara to immediately stop military operations,

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: Macron critizes Turkey's aggression in Syria as "madness', bewails NATO inaction

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has bemoaned Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria as “madness” and decried NATO’s inability to react to the assault as a “serious mistake.”

“It weakens our credibility in finding partners on the ground who will be by our side and who think they will be protected in the long term. So that raises questions about how NATO functions.”

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities is not a genuine cease-fire and called on Ankara to immediately stop military operations in Syria.

Dareen Khalifa, a senior Syria analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the cease-fire had unclear goals. 

There was no mention of the scope of the area that would be under Turkish control and, despite US Vice President Mike Pence referring to a 20-mile zone, the length of the zone remains ambiguous, she said.

Selim Sazak, a doctoral researcher at Brown University, believed the agreement would be implemented and the YPG would withdraw.

“The agency of the YPG is fairly limited. If the deal collapses because of the YPG, it’s actually all the better for Ankara,” he told Arab News. “What Ankara originally wanted was to take all of the belt into its control and eliminate as many of the YPG forces as possible. Instead, the YPG is withdrawing with a portion of its forces and its territory intact. Had the deal collapsed because of the YPG, Ankara would have reason to push forward, this time with much more legitimacy.”