One of the tasks of the archaeologist is the survey of the geographical entity where he or she will later on exercise the main aspect of an archaeological research, namely the excavation of selected sites. At the same time – and space –, the archaeologist will inevitably get in contact with the local communities and their realities, problems, aspirations, threats, fears, understandings, and misunderstandings.
In the present photo, Henriette takes a break from the recording of the Medieval past of the island of Sai on the Sudanese Nile. She has stopped in front of a modern graffito stating the locals’ objection to the construction of new dams. Plans for several such structures along the Sudanese Nile are threatening to flood the homesteads of the Nubians together with the cultural landscape of their past, from prehistoric to modern times.
Nevertheless, she cannot enjoy the break that much because she has to be covered literally from top to toe despite the excessive heat; 30ºC in February is too much even for northern Sudan…
If you think that she is obliged to wear this outfit following a religiously imposed dressing code, you are far from right. The local Muslims demonstrate no such fanaticism towards women. Henriette, like all of us this season in Shimaliya (the Northern Province) had to protect ourselves from the small, but terribly obnoxious, biting flies called “nimitti”.
For more on the “nimitti” one can read: D.J. Lewis, “Nimitti and some other small annoying flies”, Sudan Notes and Records, vol. XXXV, part 2, December 1954, pp. 76-89
These creatures normally appear between late February and late March, but this year they have been infesting all outdoor spaces since early autumn. Some say that it is due to the global warming, while others complain about the low level of the Nile caused by the new dam on the 4th Cataract (some 300 km. upstream from Sai). We just hope that by next year the problems are resolved and the island is no longer threatened by destructive “development” projects.