Sudan has an immense number of ancient sites. Since the ratification of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention in 1974, three World Heritage Sites have been added to the UNESCO List in Sudan. This includes the former royal city with its over 900 pyramids.

What is considered cultural property in Sudan?

According to the Law of 1999, the following categories of objects are considered “antiquities”:

  • any movable or immovable object created and inscribed, excavated or otherwise manufactured or altered by human hands before the year 1821. Included are all objects reconstructed or restored at a later date.
  • any historical monument.
  • any human or animal remains dating from before 1340.

What sanctions are there?

The sale or donation of registered antiquities owned the state is strictly prohibited. Antiquities must be kept in museums and must not be removed from public spaces.

With permission and under special conditions, however, it is possible to loan archaeological objects or duplicates of archaeological objects to scientific institutions, international museums or educational institutions for a limited period of time.

What sanctions are there?

  1. Anyone who trades in or exports antiquities is liable to three years’ imprisonment and/or a fine. Anyone who deliberately destroys an already known or recently discovered archaeological site, or demolishes a known archaeological building or part thereof in bad faith, or removes one of its stones or ornaments, or does something that modifies it, shall be punished by not less than three years’ imprisonment, or with a fine, or with both penalties.

  2. If the perpetrator of one of these offences is an employee of the National Authority or works in the field of antiquities, museums, conservation, restoration, universities or archaeological missions, the perpetrator will be punished by at least 5 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine.

Chronology of cultural property protection laws

  • 1835
    Decree of Mohammed Ali, Governor of the Ottoman Province of Egypt
    Export ban on antiquities; the government is the deciding authority on excavations, collections, exhibitions and the preservation of antiquities
  • 1869
    Decree of Ismail Pasha, Governor of the Ottoman Province of Egypt
    Regulation of excavations; prohibition of unauthorized export of antiquities
  • 1880
    Decree of Mohammad Tewfiq Pasha
  • 1905
    Regulation on the Protection of Antiquities
    Definition of movable and immovable antiquities, notification of new finds, export and sale of antiquities, excavation permit, sanctions
  • 1952
    Antiquities Ordinance No. 2
    Broadening the definition of antiquities, regulating antiquities in private hands, restricting export licenses and setting penalties
  • 1970
    The Hague Convention of 1954
    Protection of the cultural property of countries in the event of armed conflict
  • 1999
    Ordinance on the Protection of Antiquities
    Definition of antiquities, protection of antiquities, prohibition of trade and restriction on the export of antiquities, obligation to report ancient finds, preservation of selected sites, determination of penalties.