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The Floods are Coming for Sudan’s Pyramids

Rising Nile floodwaters are threatening to swamp an ancient archaeological site in Sudan after rivers in the country reached some of the highest ever recorded levels, archaeologists said. Teams have set up sandbag walls and are pumping out water to prevent damage at the ruins of Al-Bajrawiya, once a royal city of the two-millennia-old Meroitic empire, Marc Maillot, head of the French Archaeological Unit in the Sudan Antiquities Service, said on Tuesday. The area includes the famous Meroe pyramids, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other ancient sites are also threatened along the Nile, according to Maillot. Sudanese authorities last week declared a three-month national state of emergency after record-breaking floods that have killed at least 99 people so far. Officials said they had recorded the highest waters on the Blue Nile – which joins the White Nile in the Sudanese capital Khartoum – since records began more than a century ago. Faisal Mohamed Saleh, Sudan’s culture and information minister, visited the site to see the work being done to protect it. The site, some 200km (125 miles) northeast of Khartoum, was a capital of an empire that controlled vast swaths of land from 350 BC to 350 AD. Sudan’s ancient civilisations built more pyramids than the Egyptians, but many are still unexplored.