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Iveco and New Holland assist British Museum in Sudan

28th October 2008 Print
Iveco Eurocargo 4x4s Two Iveco Eurocargo 4x4’s and two New Holland Construction machines, a backhoe loader and a crawler excavator, have played a crucial role in the success of an archaeology recovery project which has seen the British Museum working in conjunction with the Sudan Archaeological Research Society (SARS), Iveco and New Holland Construction.

The expedition, carried out by the Castiglioni brothers and Derek Welsby, Curator of the ancient Egypt and Sudan department of the British Museum, organised the transfer of over 50 works of cave art dating back to between 5,000 BC – AD 1500 as well as 390 blocks of an early Kushite (c. 8th-5th century BC) granite pyramid, along with its offering chapel and enclosure wall.

The two Eurocargos made available by Iveco were appropriately prepared for the project: one equipped with a 6 tonne crane having a reach of 3 metres and a flat-bed platform body; the other with a steel-reinforced, three-way tipping body. The role of the two Eurocargos involved more than the simple transport of the recovered items, with the vehicles providing a vital lifeline for the supply of food and provisions for the team throughout the period of the project.

Nigel Emms, Brand & Communication Director of Iveco UK, explains: “The Eurocargos were also supported by one of our heavy-duty double drive Trakker vehicles, but the nature of the environment meant only the more nimble Eurocargos could access most of the salvage points. Just as the Eurocargo is ideal for distribution projects in restricted urban environments, they proved equally adept at reaching close enough to the salvage sites, to make loading and recovery safe and secure,” he says.

In addition, New Holland Construction provided specialized construction machinery. The New Holland machines selected for the project were a Backhoe Loader LB90B, the most suitable product for moving and lifting these kind of rocks thanks to its versatility and multi-functionality, and a Crawler Excavator E215B, a high performance digger, extensively used near the major rescue operation to support in the clearance of the roads and job site.

“The two machines chosen with their precise controllability permitted accurate and careful extraction and lifting, which was crucial in a project of this nature where smooth performance were the key success factors to avoid damaging the rocks” says Steve Orr, the North European Business Director for New Holland Construction. “To serve and preserve our heritage – he adds – “is a must for a company like ours and we feel we played a key role, together with Iveco, in helping to retain a part of mankind’s history”.

The recovery of the archaeological artifacts took place in the region of the Forth Cataract of the river Nile in the Sudan prior to the construction of a dam to provide hydro-electric power to the region.

The archaeology project took place in the region surrounding the Fourth Cataract of the Nile, prior to the damming of the river. The Fourth Cataract is currently being flooded to provide hydroelectricity for Sudan, with the British Museum/SARS team being one of nine international missions under the banner of the “Merowe Dam Archaeological Salvage Project”, which have uncovered thousands of sites dating from the Middle Paleolithic era (150,000 years ago) to the very recent past.

Until recently, the cataract zone was considered a poor and inhospitable region, marginalised at all periods. It was considered a border zone viewed primarily as a place of refuge. The discovery of vast numbers of sites of all periods, some of them of high status such as a granite pyramid and massive fortresses, is now forcing a total reappraisal of the nature and role of the region in its Nile Valley context. As a final phase of the project an appeal was made by the Sudan National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) for missions to save the rock art, rock gongs and any buildings that could be moved from inundation, for display in a proposed new museum to be dedicated to the ancient and modern cultures of the region.

Iveco and New Holland Construction became involved in the project with the British Museum in direct response to this appeal, and in recognition of the efforts of this mission 20 blocks were donated to the British Museum and it is hoped that early next year some of these can be put on permanent display, along with other material from the region of the Fourth Cataract, to form part of a collection dedicated to ancient Egypt and the Sudan.

Derek Welsby, Curator in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum and head of the mission adds: “The work at the Fourth Cataract has transformed our view of the Middle Nile Valley in northern Sudan and we are pleased to have been able to assist in the rescue of these important archaeological objects. The contribution of Iveco and New Holland was very considerable, we would not have been able to conduct this project without their input.”

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Iveco Eurocargo 4x4s