QSAP News


    Opening of the Beit Abri lil-Turath

    Through the generous support of the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project, and specifically its remit to ensure community engagement as an output of archaeological missions, the Beit Abri lil-Turath (Abri House of Heritage, in Nubian: Abrkin Sirin Nog) was opened on 9 March 2019. The introductory panel acknowledges the support of NCAM and QSAP.

    Background

    The Amara West project (QSAP.001) created a visitor orientation space at the archaeological site in 2015, featuring bilingual information panels. However, few visitors reach the site, and thus the project sought to create a facility in the nearby town of Abri. A survey of nearly 300 individuals was carried out by Tomomi Fushiya in January 2018, to ascertain the needs and interests of the communities local to Amara West: Abri, Amara East and Ernetta island. Whilst an interest in archaeological information about the area was evident, more emphasis was placed on the need for a space in which living heritage could be celebrated and presented.

    With this in mind, the project director Neal Spencer and Mohamed Saad (NCAM), considered several possible locations in Abri and, with the support of the legna shabiya, selected an old nadi (club) as ideal in terms of location (adjacent to three schools, the oldest mosque and a 10min walk from the souq) and potential for refurbishment. Built in the 1940s, this had been derelict since the construction of a new nadi nearby.

    The refurbishment has resulted in two rooms for display, a flexible space (of verandah-type), an office and a library, with a stage for performances. The open space within the courtyard has been planted with trees.

    Displays

    The display rooms present:
    1) The archaeology of the Sikoot area. Bilingual panels place local sites within a wider historical narrative, complemented by antiquities from Amara West (reconstructed sandstone doorway, sandstone basin, selection of stone tools) and a replica angareeb (based on fragments found in tombs at Amara West).
    2) Living Heritage. The project provided shelving and three showcases, which have been used to display 19th and 20th century objects collected from the local area or donated by the local community. Themes include “life passage”, “food and drink”, “ceremony and ritual”. These Living Heritage displays were curated by 9 local trainee graduates working with Sanaa el-Batal, Assistant Professor at the University of Khartoum: Emad Mohamed and Nagam Ebrahim (team leaders), Areeg Magdi Mohamed, Samia Hussein Jamal, Sundus Ebrahim, Haifa Yousri Mohamed, Shahd Rushdi, Rimaz Abbas and Hadeel Said Ali.

    Library and historic photographs

    A collaboration with the Sudan Memory Project (Cultural Protection Fund) led to the provision of training and equipment, to allow the Beit Abri lil-Turath to be a hub for scanning and documenting photographs from local family albums. Training was provided by Marilyn Deegan and Mohamed Ahmed (NCAM) to the same 9 graduates, in scanning, metadata and permissions. Some of this material will be made available online shortly.

    Library and historic photographs

    A collaboration with the Sudan Memory Project (Cultural Protection Fund) led to the provision of training and equipment, to allow the Beit Abri lil-Turath to be a hub for scanning and documenting photographs from local family albums. Training was provided by Marilyn Deegan and Mohamed Ahmed (NCAM) to the same 9 graduates, in scanning, metadata and permissions. Some of this material will be made available online shortly.

    A second collaboration, with the Faisal Cultural Centre, provided the small library space with a collection of 1200 books, augmented by donations from the DAL Group and archaeological material from the British Museum. This was organised and catalogued by Amira Alla Eldin Saleh Mohamed, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at the University of Dongola

    Management & sustainability

    The Beit Abri lil-Turath is managed by the Abri Administrative Unit, who have assigned a permanent staff member to manage and oversee the facility. He will be complemented by an NCAM ghaffir (an existing position based in Abri) and a ghaffir assigned by the Abri Unit.

    The Heritage displays are designed to be flexible and changing, and the performance and verandah space also offer opportunities for performances, workshops or additional displays. The opening events suggested a considerable sense of ownership of the Beit Abri lil-Turath amongst the local community, which is essential if it is to thrive and remain a vibrant and successful space. We have also contacted various tour companies to consider adding it to their schedule of visits to Northern State.

    The perspectives and experiences accrued through the Beit lil-Turath may help shape the form of a future museum in Abri, for which NCAM has already acquired land.

    The opening was attended by Lotfy Saeed (Head of Education for Northern State) and Mahjoub Omar (Deputy Governor, Northern State), with Mohamed Saad and Neal Spencer providing interviews for Northern State TV.

    Neal Spencer

    14 March 2019

    Painted sign – in Arabic, English and Nubian – on façade of the Beit Abri lil-Turath.

    Trainees and Sanaa el-Batal discussing displays in heritage room

    Visitors in the archaeology room.

    Reconstructed sandstone door from Amara West in the archaeology room

    Introductory panel.

    Modern World panel.

     
     

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