Conceived at a meeting of interested parties held at the British Museum in 1991, the Sudan Archaeological Research Society (SARS) was set up that year as an organisation open to general membership. From the outset, under the Honorary Presidency of Sir Laurence Kirwan and Honorary Chairmanship of Vivian Davies, the Society’s committee has placed fieldwork and publication at the centre of its concerns. With the encouragement and collaboration of the National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums (NCAM) in Sudan, SARS has followed a programme designed to meet threats posed by new development while addressing the gaps in the archaeological record and in scholarly knowledge.
Some of the features of SARS are common to archaeological societies in general. These include its international membership, regular meetings and its scholarly journal. Beyond these, the Society is proactive in a way seldom seen in organizations of this kind. It conducts major salvage excavation programmes on behalf of the Sudan Government in addition to its own ongoing research program. It also maintains a comprehensive archive of photographs, maps and texts relating to Sudan archaeology, from its own work as well as that of many other scholars, and it assists in the training of young Sudanese scholars, providing funds to assist them in attending conferences.
Since its founding, SARS has launched or supported many major field-projects, including surveys and excavations along the lines of new roads, in advance of the dams at the Fourth and Fifth Nile cataracts and elsewhere, most notably in the Northern Dongola Reach.
The Society’s publications are its most lasting monuments. Sudan and Nubia, which appears promptly every year, is now the only journal in which one can keep abreast of some of the latest excavations and findings in the Sudan, without having to wait for years. The monograph series published by the Society consists of high-quality archaeological publications, with numerous photographs, figures and tables. To date, SARS has published 20 monographs and several others are in the pipeline. The Arabic summary that accompanies most volumes reflects the Society’s sense of responsibility to the people of Sudan.
The Society does not exist in a vacuum. It receives no Government support but it does receive the generous support of the British Museum, the Institute for Bioarchaeology, and Sudan’s National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums. The continuing support of the Society’s members and patrons remains critical to its ongoing work.