Conservation work at the Temple of Mut has revealed brightly coloured hieroglyphs
By Garry Shaw. Web only
Published online: 17 March 2014
The Temple of Mut sits at the base of the “holy mountain” of Gebel Barkal in Sudan, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Photo: © Editions Gelbart, Jean-Jacques Gelbart
The first phase of a restoration project at Sudan’s Temple of Mut, at the foot of the mountain of Gebel Barkal, a Unesco World Heritage Site, has recently been completed by a joint Italian-Sudanese team.
Located about 365km north of Khartoum, Gebel Barkal was regarded as a holy mountain, sacred to the god Amun, from the time of King Tuthmosis III (1479-24BC). A temple complex was built there and expanded over the course of many centuries. The Temple of Mut was built by King Taharka (690-64 BC) at a time when Nubian kings ruled Egypt as the 25th Dynasty. It is dedicated to Amun’s divine wife, Mut, a goddess associated with motherhood and kingship.
The temple is one of a number of sites in Northern Sudan that received funding from the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project, which has distributed a total of $135m in the region. The restoration work was done by Italy’s Higher Institute for Conservation and Restoration (Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro) and Sudan’s National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums. The team assessed the temple’s condition last year and has now conserved and restored the vestibule and an adjoining chamber. The conservation work has also revealed the bright colours of the hieroglyphs preserved on the temple entrance’s walls. Armando Barucco, Italy’s Ambassador to Sudan, has said that the Mut Temple will become a major tourist attraction once restoration work is complete.
Last March, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Italian and Sudanese organisations, enabling better cooperation for the conservation and restoration of monuments in Sudan. Italian conservators have since led training seminars on the restoration and conservation of Sudan’s archaeological sites and manuscripts.