I agree that Maven has one shortcomming with dependencies because it does not support to add archives into the dependencies that are not provided in the local repository. But I do not think that would justify to use another tool. I split up the project so that every project creates one artifact that then can be used in other projects. For the external/local archives I used maven:addPath to the maven.dependencies.path.
If you are going to use Ant then maybe Sarvant works for you but I do not think that Sarvant provides you with the functionality of the Maven plugins nor the scripting abilities of Jelly within Maven.
Just my 2 cents - Andy (Author)