Musawwarat es-Sufra is situated about 120 kilometres northeast of Khartoum and 25 kilometres east of the Nile. It is one of the most important archaeological heritage sites in Sudan. Most of its standing monuments, including the unique sacral complex of the Great Enclosure and the famous Apedemak temple, date from the Meroitic period (300 BC to 350 AD).
But Musawwarat is not only a hallmark of this era. Its origins date back to the previous period of Kushite history, the Napatan era (650 BC to 300 BC). Possibly the oldest monument at the site is the Great Hafir, a gigantic water reservoir of 250 metres diameter, which was probably built in the Napatan period. The Apedemak temple at its embankment was commissioned by the early Meroitic king Arnakhamani in the late third century BC as a later addition to the assemblage.
While many open questions still need to be resolved, it is clear that Musawwarat was the earliest, and for a long time the only, site outside the Nile valley which the Kushites developed into a monumental arena of religious life. Situated in a wide valley crowned by sandstone hills which invite hiking, Musawwarat is a fascinating place to discover.
In 2011, Musawwarat was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the serial property "Island of Meroe".
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