Nubian updates from Crete and Ethiopia

The week that just ended saw a very interesting conference on “Minoan Archaeology in the 21st century”, taking place in Heidelberg and hosted by the Institute of Classical Archaeology there. The main objective of this meeting was “to provide a common basis for future discussion by consenting to the precise meaning of some important theoretical terms and by identifying collective concerns in an attempt to approach new agendas for future research”.

Despite the difference of age between the over 100 years old Minoan Archaeology and the over 40 years old Nubian Studies, both disciplines share the same contemporaneous social background of the 21st century and its intellectual demands. Nevertheless, very little theoretical discussion is being opened during the Conferences on Nubian Studies, no wishes for further elaboration of the terminology used is ever followed up (we refer for example to the opinions expressed both in the 3rd and in the 5th Conferences of the Archaeology of the 4th Nile Cataract that were never pursued further), and next to nothing is even dared being debated concerning the future of Nubian Studies, although this specific need is very acute given the constant threats for flooding the Nubian landscape by the building of more dams on the Cataracts of the Middle Nile.

We sincerely hope that members of the higher echelons of the Nubiological society have followed this conference and have been inspired positively for the future; because another very interesting aspect of the Heidelberg meeting was that it was offered in live streaming through the University’s webpage for anyone interested, with even the possibility to intervene with questions to the speakers! Although we did not ask any questions, we were very pleased to see the idea of a heterarchical system of state administration discussed widely and positively for the Early Bronze Age Crete, like Henriette had suggested for Early Bronze Age Lower Nubia two years ago.

Finally, what is also interesting in this context, is that during the same week there appeared in the last issue of the journal Antiquity a very interesting book review of Bill & Nettie Adams’ Qasr Ibrim: the Early Medieval Period by the eminent Africanologist, David Phillipson.

In his review, Phillipson grants rightfully credit to the authors for the effort of publishing this immense material record, but questions the collective effort by the so-called Nubiologists to come out from the state of doing research in vacuo. We can only agree with both sides of his critic.

For this was the main lesson we got from following the Heidelberg Conference too: Nubian Studies need to come out of their shell and mingle with the rest of the related disciplines.

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