Swiss archaeologist Charles Bonnet and his team have unearthed three temples in Sudan that could help unlock some of the secrets of ancient Africa, a subject that has long challenged researchers of the ancient world.
Bonnet, 83, considered one of the world’s leading experts on Sudan’s archaeological heritage, says the sites are unlike anything discovered so far.
The round and oval shaped structures dating from 1,500 to 2,000 BC were found late last year not far from the famed archaeological site of Kerma in northern Sudan.
“This architecture is unknown … there is no example in central Africa or in the Nile Valley of this architecture,” Bonnet told the AFP news agency this week.
The temples were found at Dogi Gel, or “Red Hill”, located just several hundred metres from Kerma, where Bonnet and his team have been digging for decades.
“At Kerma the architecture is square or rectangular shaped… and here just a kilometre away we have round structures,” he explained.
“Nobody knows this architecture… It’s completely new,” Bonnet explained, adding that the new structures did not resemble Egyptian or Nubian architecture – two ancient archaeological influences in the region.
“There are no roots today in Africa and we have to find these roots… this is the secret of Africa.”
Years ago, Bonnet unearthed the seven “black pharaohs” granite statues of Sudan’s Nubian rulers near the banks of the Nile.
The ageing archeologist thereby helped prove that Sudan, with its wealth of ancient relics, was not merely a satellite of neighbouring Egypt.
During this latest dig, Bonnet said, he also discovered “enormous fortifications” at Dogi Gel, an indication that much more awaits to be discovered at the site.
“That means this part of the world was defended by a coalition, probably of the king of Kerma with people coming from Darfur and from central Sudan” against ancient Egyptians, who were interested in controlling trade and commerce in central Africa.
With more and more archaeologists expressing interest in north Sudan’s Nile Valley, where the Kushite kingdom flourished between present day Khartoum and the Egyptian border, Bonnet is convinced that many kingdoms still lay buried waiting to be discovered.
“We have here extraordinary history of the world, maybe after some years we will have Sudanology as strong as Egyptology,” he said.