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Al Khandaq Village

Date of Submission: 01/02/2022
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Sudanese National Commission for Education, Science and Culture
State, Province or Region:
Northern Sudan
Coordinates: 18 37.173N 30 33 910E
Ref.: 6598

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Al Khandaq is a village situated in the northern Sudan for about 423 km to the north of Khartoum. It was described by the early travellers as one of the best-built town in Nubia. It had been recognized to be a New Kingdom (1450-1100 BC) settlements with a temple of Amenhotep. These ruins were superimposed by a Makurian defensive fort (1250-1340 AD), a monastery of St. George in which the Nubian King Solomon was buried. During the Funj period (1504-1821), it was the headquarter of al Khandaq Mekdom. During the Turkiya (1921-1885) and the Anglo-Egyptian rule (1885-1956) Al Khandaq has been one of the main districts of Dongola province. Al Khandaq was also known to be the main river Nile port in northern Sudan during the 17-20th century, which had connected western Sudan with the Nile. It started to decline in the mid 20th century.

Al Khandaq presents a unique example of mud brick two story high buildings, which housed the rich merchants' families. The town is dominated by the fort known as Gaila Qaila (the red fort). It dates to the Christian period and continues to be used till the Islamic era. Al Khandaq village and its environs; Wad Nimeiri, Magasir Island, Kabtod and Hannek-Koya consisted mainly of houses/palaces, qubbas, cemeteries and Khawas, all dated to the Islamic period.

AL Khandaq is protected by Antiquities Protection Ordinance of 1999. It is also guarded by Antiquities protection police and local guards. There is special protection by a parliament decree of the Northern Sudan regarding the protection of the cultural heritage in Sudan. The working archaeological mission of the Department of Archaeology of the University of Khartoum by raising the awareness of the local community to protect the site through building a community museum in one of the historical buildings.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

AL Khandaq village retains best preserved and unique example of mud brick architecture in Sudan and the Sub-Saharan Africa.

Criterion (ii): Al Khandaq is best built village in Nubia during the 18th century. It exhibits an important interchange of continued values, traditions and customs for more than three thousand years, from the New Kingdom till the independence of Sudan. 

Criterion (iii): Al Khandaq is unique testimony of river trade connecting the Mediterranean countries with Nubia and possibility the Sub-Saharan African regions, for two centuries, received goods from Egypt and handled exports from the heart of western and southern Sudan. This contact contributed to constitute wide spectrum of heterogenous people from Sudan and a broad that affiliated themselves with the town and known as Khandaqawi. 

Criterion (iv): Al Khandaq village and its community is directly associated with living traditions and customs that characterize the area such as weaving, basketry and wedding ceremonial traditions. Moreover, their special Oral traditions shed light on trade, the genealogy of the inhabitants and the subsistence economy of the town during late 19th century.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Al Khandaq town retains its original building structures in their actual locations integrated with the river environment which consisted of residential, governmental, religious, indigo factory and funerary which were made of mud brick, red brick and local stone. The integrity of Al Khandaq village reflects the cultural identity and illuminate collective memory of a special trade community.

Comparison with other similar properties

Al Khandaq town with its diverse buildings can be compared with the monuments of Ancient Ksour of Ouadance, WHR: 750.