Published On: Tue, Aug 25th, 2020

Archaeology: Illegal miners destroy ancient African site in devastating historical blow | World | News

Officials confirmed that the illegal miners have ruined the 2,000-year-old archaeological site in Africa, leading to an outpouring of anger from experts in the field. The devastation took place in the eastern region of the Sahara desert where the relics stood. The Jabal Maragha site dates from the Meroitic period between 350BC and 350AD.

It is thought it was once either a small settlement or a checkpoint.

Officials from Sudan‘s antiquities and museums department said they visited the site last month and came across the wreck.

It is around 270km (170 miles) north of the capital Khartoum.

In July, they found two mechanical diggers and five men actively working to find gold.

They had excavated a vast trench about 17 metres (55 feet) deep, and 20 metres long.

The utter destruction has terminated any hopes of salvaging any history from the region.

Habab Idriss Ahmed, a shocked archaeologist, said: “They had only one goal in digging here – to find gold…they did something crazy; to save time, they used heavy machinery.”

She has worked at the historic location since 1999 and shared his distress with AFP news agency.

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Hatem al-Nour, Sudan’s director of antiquities and museums, said: “Out of a thousand more or less well-known sites in Sudan, at least a hundred have been destroyed or damaged.”

He warned that a lack of security at the sites made them easy targets for looters.

Sudan is currently Africa’s third largest producer of gold.

South Africa and Ghana are the only countries that trump its output.

Commercial mining brought in around $1.2bn (£900m) to the Sudanese government last year.

Illegal mining is, many claim, said to be encouraged by some local authorities and businessmen who give machines to gold hunters.

It appears that enforcement of the existing laws is also not stringent.

The diggers who destroyed the Jabal Maragha were freed without charge.

It is not clear why.

Mahmoud al-Tayeb, a former expert from Sudan’s antiquities department, said: “They should have been put in jail and their machines confiscated. There are laws.”

Sudan has moved to implement long-term strategies in order to protect its historical and cultural landmarks.

One programme sees young people taught about Sudanese history.

This, Prof Habbab Idris Muhammad, the chief inspector at the antiquities and museums department told the Suna news agency, is so that the next generation can cherish their heritage.

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