North vs. South from a Sai perspective

The return after the summer break to the Medieval Sai Project in wordpress finds us in front of a completely new situation regarding the land our fieldwork is conducted in: Sudan has been officially split up into a northern and southern part.

How will this affect the future of Nubia?

Will the government of the North have more respect for one of the most traditional elements of the state?

Can the new situation have a better impact for the future of the Middle Nile Valley by turning away from the unnecessary and disastrous dam plans?

We will try to follow these topics from here in the course of time.

But for the time being, we will picture briefly another aspect of relations between North and South in relation to Medieval Sai: did the island belong more to the world of Nobadia or to the world of Makuria?

It is true that from the 7th century CE Makuria incorporated Nobadia. However, in the earlier centuries of the Early Medieval period, the island has been traditionally understood as a part of Nobadia. The natural barrier of the stretch of the Middle Nile between the Third Cataract and the Dal Cataract is a good indicator for the veracity of this idea, which is archaeologically corroborated by the finding of Early Christian pottery samples similar to the fine wares of Faras and Nobadia from various sites all around the island. In fact, pottery sherds of that dating constitute the most numerous examples of fine pottery from all periods of the Medieval/Christian era on Sai.

Would that mean that after the incorporation of Nobadia by Makuria, Sai lost its importance as a frontier locality and entered a period of decline that culminated with the invasions from the north after 1100 CE?

The almost total absence of fine wares from Late Christian pottery productions as known from either the Nobadian north or the Makurian south seems to point to that direction.

The subtleties of the interior realities in the Medieval Nubian world can only be understood through systematic archaeological investigation and patient analysis of the archaeological record without the pressure of the conditions of salvage archaeological projects. And this is the least of the reasons for stopping the plans for further dams on the remaining cataracts of the Middle Nile Valley.

The month of August is also the Holy month of Ramadan, which as a period of fasting is also a period of contemplation. May the Muslims of the Islamic Northern state of Sudan use this period of contemplation in order to reach positive political decisions for the future of Nubia:

Ramadan Kareem!

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