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Ancient African sites are on the verge of disappearing due to climate change

Climate change is erasing human footprints. Even in Africa, where ancient civilizations sprang up, traces recorded by humans thousands of years ago are fading due to rising sea levels and abnormal temperatures caused by climate change. Recently, joint researchers at the University of East Anglia in the UK, the University of Ohio in the US, and the University of Kenyatta in Kenya contributed their research to the Azania Journal, an African archaeological journal, and appealed that "international intervention is urgently needed to preserve the disappearing remains." On September 23, the BBC introduced threatened African sites.

Ruins of the ancient Kush kingdom on the banks of the Nile in Sudan. (Wikipedia)

The ruins of the ancient Kush kingdom along the Nile River in Sudan are known as the 'Lost City'. In Al Bajrawiya, about 200 km northeast of the capital Khartoum, there are traces of the Kush kingdom, which was ruled by the Nubian dynasty for 700 years from 350 BC. The kingdom of Kush built more pyramids than Egypt. There are many artifacts that have not yet been discovered.

The ruins of the kingdom of Kush, also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are in danger of being submerged. In particular, the water level of the Blue Nile River, which flows through the northeast of Africa due to heavy rains that fell for three months from June this year, reached the highest level since the first 100 years of counting. Sudanese authorities have built a defensive wall near the ruins of the Kush Kingdom and are pumping out water, but the rainy season continues until October.

Ancient Egyptian ruins in Suakin. (Wikipedia)

Suakin, a port city in southeastern Sudan, is a Red Sea trading port strategically created by Egyptian pharaohs 3,000 years ago. Afterwards, as the base of Islamic pilgrims heading to Mecca, various cultural relics were piled up in Suakin. With the development of the northern port of Sudan, Suakin has become a “lost port”, but houses and temples that hold thousands of years remain, making it a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage List.

Researchers point out that Suakin could disappear forever. Professor Joan Clark of the University of East Anglia in the UK warned that "a study that quantifies the rate at which sea level rises and coastal erosion are causing losses may lead to Suakin submerging in decades."

Lamu village on Lamu Island, Kenya. (Wikipedia)

Lamu Village on Lamu Island in Kenya, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, is the oldest village in East Africa. The UN explains that the village of Lamu plays an important role in the study of Islam and Swahili culture, with buildings built by the Swahili settled in the 14th century remain intact. However, the village of Lamu was doomed to disappear. This is because the sea level rose due to climate change, and a huge port was built on the north side of Lamu Island, destroying the mangrove forests that protected the island from flooding. Professor Clark warned, "As soon as nature is destroyed, cultural heritage can disappear as well."

Namibia Twyfelfontein Petroglyph. (Wikipedia)

In Namibia, a southern African country, many petroglyph sites are distributed. In particular, the Twyfelfontein petroglyphs are the first UNESCO World Heritage sites in Namibia. It is famous for rock carvings of primitive tribes 6,000 years ago, hunting and gathering activities and religious rituals. However, these petroglyphs are also becoming victims of climate change. The Twyfelfontein region was relatively dry, and petroglyphs could have been preserved for thousands of years, but the recent climate change has led to increased humidity and mold and microbes on the rocks. UNESCO warned that the records of ancient humans in South Africa could disappear forever.

The old mosque of Mali Djenné. (Wikipedia)

Djenné, a small town in Mali, West Africa, was a hub for the gold trade in the Sahara Desert. Djenné has been inhabited since 250 BC. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it was the center of the spread of Islam. In particular, there are about 2,000 houses and buildings piled up with mud on the hill of Djenné, and the life of those days is preserved intact.

However, Djenné is also not free from the threat of climate change. This is because poor harvests have resulted from abnormal temperatures and drought, and residents are no longer able to obtain high-quality mud that can keep the traditional architectural methods. The town is already losing its original shape, the researchers pointed out. "Climate change threatens humanity in a complex form," said Professor Clark. "It can be deferred in the case of Djenné that climate change can indirectly destroy cultural heritage even if it is not a direct cause."

In addition, the researchers warned that coastal towns such as Nigeria, Gambia, Togo, Kinney and Congo could lose their former appearance due to rising sea levels.


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