Musawwarat es-Sufra

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Apedemak temple in Musawwarat es-sufra

Musawwarat es-Sufra (Arabic:المصورات الصفراء al-Musawwarāt as-sufrā, Meroitic: Aborepi, Old Egyptian: jbrp, jpbr-ˁnḫ), also known as Al-Musawarat Al-Sufra, is a large Meroitic temple complex in modern Sudan, dating back to the 3rd century BC.[1] It is located 180 km northeast of Khartoum, 20 km north of Naqa and approximately 25 km south-east of the Nile, its MGRS coordinates 36QWD3477214671 . With Meroë and Naqa it is known as the Island of Meroe, and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.[2]


The site was originally mentioned by Linant de Bellefonds in 1822, and then shortly thereafter by Frédéric Cailliaud. The first detailed description of the site was made by Carl Richard Lepsius. Archaeological investigations were carried out by the Butana expedition from the Humboldt University of Berlin under the leadership of Professor Fritz Hintze. These continued after a gap of a couple of decades and are ongoing.[3]

Great Enclosure[edit]

A temple entrance in Musawwarat es-sufra

The Great Enclosure is the main structure of the site. Much of the labyrinth-like building complex, which covers approximately 45,000 square metres, was erected in the third century BC.[4] According to Hintze, "the complicated ground plan of this extensive complex of buildings is without parallel in the entire Nile valley."[5] The maze of courtyards includes three (possible) temples, passages, low walls, about 20 columns, ramps and two reservoirs.[6] [7]

There were many sculptures of animals, such as elephants. The scheme of the site is, so far, without parallel in Nubia and ancient Egypt, and there is some debate about the purpose of the buildings, with earlier suggestions including a college, a hospital, and an elephant-training camp.[3] According to the scholar Basil Davidson, at least four Kushite queens or KandakesAmanirenas, Manaishakhete, Naldamak and Amanitore — probably spent part of their lives in Musawwarat es-Sufra.[8]

The remains of a temple of Apedemak are about 600 meters away from the Great Enclosure.


  1. ^
  2. ^ UNESCO Island of Meroe
  3. ^ a b UNESCO Nomination document p.43
  4. ^ [1] Musawwarat website
  5. ^ Hintze, Fritz (1978). The Kingdom of Kush: The Meroitic Period. The Brooklyn Museum. pp. 89–93. 
  6. ^ [2] Zamani Project
  7. ^ Google Books Sudan: The Bradt Travel Guide p.131-2
  8. ^ Basil Davidson, Old Africa Rediscovered, Prentice-Hall 1970


  • Basil Davidson Old Africa Rediscovered, Gollancz, 1959
  • Peter Shinnie Meroe, 1967

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 16°24′57″N 33°19′25″E / 16.41583°N 33.32361°E / 16.41583; 33.32361