Art Histories
2015/ 2016

Ahmed Adam

The Sudanese Collections in the Berlin Museums

Gold of Meroitic Queen Kandake Amanishakheto, Meroitic Kingdom (350 BC - 350 AD). Neues Museum, Berlin. Photo: Ahmed Adam.

is Assistant Professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Khartoum. He is also the Director of the Red Sea and Suakin Project and leads a project that wants to establish a museum in Khartoum. Adam was a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2012) and a Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter (2011-2013). His research centers on archaeology in Sudan and on the preservation of archaeogical sites and their objects. He has published extensively on this subject in journals like Adumantu Journal, Bulletin of Sudanese Studies and Adab Journal.

The Sudanese Collections in the Berlin Museums

Adam will make use of his Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices fellowship in studying the Sudanese collections of heritage material, objects and contents housed in the museums in Berlin, since these contents in display represent some of the most important Sudanese archaeological artifacts. Given the fact that Sudanese archeological collections in Berlin museums are yet to be systematically studied, Adam’s fellowship project will aim at investigating the current status of these archaeological and historical collections. Moreover, during his fellowship he will shed light on the history of museums in Sudan. The first evidence for a museum in Sudan dates back to the early years of the Mahdia period (1881-84) mentioned by the Austrian missionary Joseph Ohrwalder (1856-1913) in his book Aufstand und Reich des Mahdi im Sudan und meine zehnjährige Gefangenschaft dortselbst, published in Innsbruck in 1892. This museum called “Beit Alantikat” gathered ethnographic material, like tools belonging to the Ababda and Masalit tribes from Darfur, and objects from Egypt and Ethiopia, such as the crown of the legendary King Johannes. In 1902 the “Economic and Financial Museum” was established at Gordon College, today’s University of Khartoum. Over time, a large number of ethnographic pieces were collected such as surgical and medical equipment, the heads of bayonets, and wooden headrests. In 1930 the first Sudanese staff arranged the display in new cases, including historic and ethnographic tools, and opened the museum to the public in 1932. With his research, Ahmed will study the role of museums in educational, social and cultural life of Sudan.