In a recent development in Sudan, the National Museum in Khartoum has reportedly been taken over by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), stoking fears over the safety of priceless archaeological artifacts, including ancient mummies.
The Deputy Director of Sudan’s Museum Department, Ikhlas Abdul Latif, announced on Saturday that members of the RSF, who have been engaged in a battle with the army for several weeks, entered the museum on Friday, with calls to “protect the nation’s heritage.”
Due to the sudden eruption of conflict on April 15, museum employees have been kept in the dark about the current situation within the museum as they ceased going to their workplace, following the forced withdrawal of the police who had been guarding the facility.
The museum, which is located on the banks of the Nile in central Khartoum near the Central Bank building, is in an area that has seen some of the most intense battles of the conflict.
Among the thousands of invaluable artifacts in the museum are mummified remains dating back to 2500 BC, making them some of the oldest and most significant archaeological treasures in the world. Hatem Al-Nur, the former director of the National Museum, stated that the building also houses statues, pottery, and ancient murals. In addition, it features archaeological pieces from various periods, ranging from the Stone Age to the Christian and Islamic eras.
Roxane Trejo, a member of a French archaeological team that had been working in Sudan, revealed that the team is monitoring the situation of the museum via satellite. They have already detected signs of potential damage that might have occurred before Friday, with evidence of a possible fire. She confessed, “We don’t know the extent of the damage inside.”
Despite multiple ceasefire declarations, including a Saudi and U.S.-brokered truce agreed upon by both sides which ended on Saturday, fighting continued last week. After continuous clashes, bombardments, and civilian building occupations, Washington and Riyadh suspended talks. The U.S. also announced the imposition of sanctions on the commercial interests of both conflicting parties.
The fate of the ancient relics inside Sudan’s National Museum now hangs in the balance, with international observers and historians on edge as the conflict rages on.