Ancient Nubia, the name of the region that stretches between Egypt and northern Sudan, I discovered that the majority of Sudanese had never had the opportunity to visit these sites — including the doctors themselves.

UNESCO World Heritage site since 2011 — is a four-hour drive from Khartoum, northeast along the Nile River. The pyramids here, built between 2,700 and 2,300 years ago, stand as a testament to the grandeur of the Kingdom of Kush, a major power from the eighth century B.C. to the fourth century A.D.

Compared to the monumental pyramids in Giza, Egypt, the structures at Meroe are significantly smaller — from around 30 to 100 feet tall, against the 455-foot-tall Great Pyramid — and their slopes steeper. As in Egypt, though, the pyramids serve as royal burial sites.

rising floodwaters, as well as the continuing effects of wind and sand erosion.

Plans for new hydroelectric dams also threaten certain archaeological sites in Sudan — as they have in the past, when the construction of the Merowe Dam displaced tens of thousands of residents and led to a frenzied archaeological hunt for artifacts before they were submerged by the dam’s reservoir.

destroyed several of the pyramids in a ruthless search for ancient artifacts.

Alessio Mamo is an Italian photojournalist based in Catania, Sicily, who focuses on refugee displacement and humanitarian crises in the Middle East and the Balkans. You can follow his work on Instagram and Twitter.

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George Bass, Archaeologist of the Ocean Floor, Dies at 88

George F. Bass, who was often called the father of underwater archaeology, scouring shipwrecks for revelatory artifacts and developing new techniques for exploring the ocean, died on March 2 at a hospital in Bryan, Texas. He was 88.

His son Gordon confirmed the death.

Professor Bass was a graduate student in 1960 when he first donned a scuba tank and dived to the seabed of the Mediterranean. He went on to find bronze ingots more than 3,000 years old, wooden fragments that solved mysteries about shipbuilding from the time of the “Odyssey,” and much more — treasures that opened up a new field for archaeology, one that seemed to him as limitless as the Seven Seas.

Excavation of shipwrecks could provide not only “the ultimate histories of watercraft,” he later wrote, but also “the ultimate histories of virtually everything ever made by humans.”

Professor Bass led or co-directed archaeological efforts around the world, including in the United States, but he focused on the coast of Turkey — for thousands of years a maritime trade route for a succession of civilizations, from the ancient Canaanites to the early Byzantine Empire.

wrote that the Uluburun ship cast new light “on the histories of literacy, trade, ideas, metallurgy, metrology, art, music, religion, and international relations, as well as for fields as diverse as Homeric studies and Egyptology.”

The historical value of sunken treasure began to be recognized at the turn of the 20th century, when Greeks diving for sponge encountered a shipwreck carrying, among other goods, a magnificent ancient Greek bronze statue of a young man known as the Antikythera Youth. But sustained archaeological work under the sea was not feasible until 1943, when the oceanographers Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emil Gagnan invented the aqualung.

Cape Gelidonya in Turkey, solved a puzzle about why Homer refers to brushwood on Odysseus’s ship. The remains of a sunken ship there revealed that brushwood had been used as a cushion for heavy cargo to protect the hull.

Deborah Carlson, the president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, which Professor Bass helped create and then ran for much of his life, ultimately in Texas, said he deserved to be considered the founder of the field.

“Under his direction, ancient shipwrecks were excavated underwater for the first time,” she said in a phone interview. “He did it by taking his archaeological training and putting on scuba gear and taking the excavation to a new dimension.”

In his lectures, Professor Bass was fond of telling audiences about the ancientness of sea travel — which he said humans had developed before farming, shepherding or metalworking — and about the infinitude of shipwrecks to be discovered.

“We will never run out of worthy sites,” he wrote in “Beneath the Seven Seas” (2005), a book that chronicles his career. “Hundreds of ships have sunk in Aegean storms in a single day. We cannot calculate the number of wrecks in that one sea.”

Peter Throckmorton was researching Turkish sponge divers and learned that they knew of ancient artifacts on the ocean floor. Mr. Throckmorton wrote to the renowned archaeologist Rodney Young seeking sponsorship for a proper excavation. Professor Young turned to one of his graduate students who specialized in the Bronze Age and had enthusiastically read accounts of deep sea dives — George Bass.

Mr. Bass was less than fully prepared. He had time for only six weeks of a 10-week diving course at a Philadelphia Y.M.C.A. And before joining the expedition and diving 100 feet into the Mediterranean, he had tried on a tank just once and gone no deeper than 10 feet — in a pool. Yet that first trip became the foundation for the rest of his career.

“You have to be young and ignorant and naïve to get anywhere,” he reflected in a 2010 interview with the Penn Museum.

He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and became a professor there in 1964. Though tenured, he left his position in 1973 to form, with his colleagues J. Richard Steffy and Michael L. Katzev, an independent institute devoted to nautical archaeology.

Professor Bass and his wife — he had married Ann Singletary in 1960 — sold their house, car and furniture and, with their two sons, moved to Cyprus. Their stay was short-lived. When Turkey invaded in 1974 in a struggle with Greece over control over the island, the Basses fled in the middle of the night.

Texas A&M University, in College Station, offered to house Professor Bass’s institute and make him and his colleagues members of the faculty. Now known as the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, it has excavated dozens of shipwrecks across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Professor Bass’s early research helped put in motion the establishment of Turkey’s Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, which today is one of the premier institutions of its kind worldwide.

He called them “destructive of our search for knowledge of the past.”

“It is relatively simple to find and salvage antiques or antiquities,” he said. “It is what happens to those antiques or antiquities later that makes their recovery part of archaeology.”

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Long-Lost Mosaic From a ‘Floating Palace’ of Caligula Returns Home

NEMI, Italy — If stones could speak, the mosaic unveiled recently at an archaeological museum just south of Rome would have quite the tale to tell.

It was crafted in the first century for the deck of one of two spectacularly decorated ships on Lake Nemi that the Emperor Caligula commissioned as floating palaces. Recovered from underwater wreckage in 1895, the mosaic was later lost for decades, only to re-emerge several years ago as a coffee table in the living room of a Manhattan antiques dealer.

“If you look at it from an angle, you can still see traces of a ring from a cup bottom,” said Daniela De Angelis, the director of the Museum of the Roman Ships in Nemi, referring to the piece’s modern use. The mosaic has been installed in the museum next to two other marble fragments salvaged from Caligula’s ships, and was put on display on Thursday.

“For us it’s a great satisfaction today to see the mosaic in this museum,” said Maj. Paolo Salvatori of Italy’s elite art theft squad, whose investigations led to the mosaic’s return. “Bringing back cultural artifacts to their original context” is the ultimate goal of the squad, he said, and the recovery of the mosaic reflected cooperation among the squad, Italy’s cultural authorities and law enforcement in the United States.

opulent residential compound on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, a villa on the southwest shore of Lake Nemi and the two ships.

“They were floating palaces,” whose “aquatic luxury” was likely inspired by a renowned barge used by Anthony and Cleopatra on the Nile, said Massimo Osanna, the director general of Italy’s national museums.

Scholars are still unsure whether the ships had a specific purpose, though some have posited that one was used for the worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis. In any case, Caligula didn’t skimp on the ships’ décor, which included mosaics on the walls, intricately inlaid marble floors, decorated fountains and marble columns. Bronze figures decorated the beams, headboards and other wooden parts.

2013 presentation in New York of a book by an Italian marble expert, Dario Del Bufalo, on the use of red porphyry in imperial art. He happened to show a photograph of the missing mosaic.

“That’s Helen’s table,” Mr. Del Bufalo recalled one of the attendees exclaiming. Helen turned out to be Helen Costantino Fioratti, president of L’Antiquaire and the Connoisseur, a Manhattan fine art and antiques gallery.

Mr. Del Bufalo said Thursday that he had assisted Italy’s art theft squad in identifying Ms. Fioratti’s mosaic as the section of the marble floor restored by Mr. Borghi. The piece was seized by American authorities in 2017 and returned to Italy. Ms. Fioratti said at the time that she and her husband had bought the mosaic in good faith, in the late 1960s, from a member of an aristocratic family.

recovered between 1929 and 1931, after the lake was drained, an enterprise that exemplified “the highest feat of Italian hydraulic engineering,” said Alberto Bertucci, mayor of Nemi, which is arguably better known for its strawberries than its archaeological heritage.

The Nemi museum was specially designed in the 1930s to house the massive ships — which measured roughly 240 feet long and 78 feet wide — as well as other artifacts dredged up at the time, including fragments of mosaics and brass tiles that covered the roof of a structure on one of the ships.

But on the night of May 31, 1944, the ships were destroyed by a fire that scholars believe was deliberately set by vengeful German troops.

“There was little left afterward because the fire was devastating,” said Ms. De Angelis. But some artifacts survived because they had been sent to Rome for safekeeping.

“The fire in the museum was ignited to destroy, and it did not disappoint,” said the Rev. John McManamon, a visiting scholar at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, who has written a book on the ships that is scheduled to be published next year. Father McManamon’s research backed the conclusions of a 1944 investigative commission which found that “in all likelihood, the fire that destroyed the two ships was caused by a deliberate choice on the part of the German soldiers,” he wrote in an email.

Mr. Bertucci said he had initiated discussions with Italy’s Foreign Ministry about demanding compensation from the German government for the destruction of the ships. Any money received would be used to build scale models of the ships and to “return to humanity what was lost,” he said in an interview this week.

“Today is a very important day,” said Ms. De Angelis at the Thursday unveiling. “Visitors to the museum will find a new addition in its natural place, alongside other marble fragments from the ship, as if it had never been away.”

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Hershel Shanks, Whose Magazine Uncovered Ancient Israel, Dies at 90

Mr. Shanks died on Feb. 5 at his home in Washington. He was 90.

His daughter Elizabeth Alexander, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, said the cause was complications of Covid-19.

Mr. Shanks made it clear that he was an amateur, albeit an impassioned one. Having gone to a Sunday school at his synagogue, he read Hebrew but could not translate it.

“As the reader may have noticed, I have not spoken of my biblical training,” he wrote in a jaunty 2010 memoir, “Freeing the Dead Sea Scrolls: And Other Adventures of an Archaeology Outsider,” “because I had none.”

But for many years he belonged to a group of Jewish friends in Washington who met periodically to talk about the Bible. Although he grew up in a home where, as he wrote, “there was something treyf (unkosher)” about the New Testament, he took a course in the Christian Bible that led to a meeting with William F. Albright, a towering figure in archaeology who had authenticated the Dead Sea Scrolls after they were found by a young shepherd.

“Paradoxically,” Mr. Shanks wrote, “I came to the Hebrew Bible through the New Testament.”

At the start of that transformative year in Israel, Mr. Shanks wrote 300 pages of a novel about Saul, the first king of Israel, which he eventually abandoned as “no good.” Then he got to know Israel’s rock star of an archaeologist, Yigael Yadin, through a fortuitous find by his daughter Elizabeth, then 6, at Tel Hazor in the Upper Galilee.

The Shanks family was visiting the Hazor mound, the site of what in the ninth century B.C. was the largest fortified city in the ancient kingdom of Israel, and searching for sherds, or ceramic fragments, when Elizabeth stumbled upon a small piece of a clay handle less than an inch and a half long with an image etched into the clay. Mr. Yadin, who led the landmark Hazor expedition in the mid-1950s, identified the image as a Syro-Hittite deity from the Late Bronze Age in a pose known as the “smiting god.”

He urged Mr. Shanks to write an article about the handle for an Israeli journal, which he did with Mr. Yadin’s help. And so a new career was born.

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