The future of the Nile @ Anastasi’s Egyptological Collection

Ten days have passed since Henriette gave a lecture on “The Nile in the 21st century”, in a venue organized by the Norwegian Egyptological Society at the Gallery of Egyptian Antiquities of the Bergen Museum.

The lecture summarized in Norwegian the ethical implications of salvage archaeology and dam building, where the future of traditional societies are at risk, as Henriette discussed in detail in her recent publication in the Journal of Social Archaeology.

Moreover, an update on the geopolitical interests in play between the countries of the entire Nile Basin, and the current plans for further dams by Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda were brought forward, in order to update an audience that showed sincere interest in the topic in the discussion that followed.

The Egyptian gallery of the Bergen Museum is not unfamiliar with Sudan archaeology. In one of its showcases, a very important find from Central Sudan, discovered by professor emeritus at the University of Bergen Randi Haaland, is also displayed (we’d like thank the administration of the museum for the permission to publish here these photos).

It concerns a large piece of a Mesolithic pot from Sudan, which was one of the first places in the world where pottery was invented. The cultural significance of pots has often been discussed academically by Haaland – two of the latest examples are the articles Ancient Nubia – a Culinary Cross-Road between Africa and the Near East in Mahmoud Salih’s festschrift, Connecting South and North, and Porridge and Pot, Bread and Oven in Cambridge Archaeological Journal.

And this is not all: the first possessions of the Egyptological collection of Bergen were a gift by a Greek merchant from 19th century Alexandria, Giovanni Anastasi, who was the consul in Egypt for Sweden and Norway, in the period from 1828 to 1857. A particular case of Greek-Norwegian cooperation on the Nile that we might return to in the future…

Another topic linked with Nubia and Bergen Museum is the fate of the Nubian material from the Scandinavian Joint Expedition to Sudanese Nubia in the framework of the Aswan High Dam UNESCO campaign. For the time being, suffice it to say that in 1963, Bergen Museum hosted an exhibition titled “Nubia og Nilen” from which a pamphlet is still kept at the University Library.

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7 Responses to The future of the Nile @ Anastasi’s Egyptological Collection

  1. chirine nour says:

    “…It concerns a large piece of a Mesolithic pot from Sudan, which was one of the first places in the world where pottery was invented…”
    Very touching to stand by a piece like this and to have been in a place like this!!!!

  2. lilit says:

    Giovanni Anastasi was an Armenian merchant not a Greek

    • ergamenis says:

      Thank you for the comment.
      Opinions differ – and Anastasi is surely not the only one.
      We would be interested to hearing more of what are the sources that prove or disprove the suggestion.
      We based ours in the references you can find in the link behind his name.
      Thank you again.

  3. Youri says:


    I’m also of opinion that Giovanni Anastasi was an Armenian merchant. I noted the contradiction between the english wikipedia-article about him and the biographical details from the site of the British Museum. The former saying that he was an Armenian, while the latter declares that he was Greek.

    The wikipedia article refers to Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, wich in turn refers to Who was who in Egyptology by Warren Royal Dawson and Eric Parrington Uphill. The British Museum site only refers to the same book which states that he was an Armenian. All other information from the BM seems to be correct and originating from the book of DAWSON and UPHILL (p.8).

    The error may have occured because of his Greek sounding last name. Unfortunatly, I have to admit that I only had access to the second edition of “Who was who in Egyptology.” To be absolutly certain one would have to look it up in the third edition.

    Yours sincerly,

  4. ergamenis says:

    Dear Youri,
    thank you for the comment. Please allow us to keep to the suggestion of the BM site based on the latest updated edition of the “Who is Who”.
    A bit more on the matter, though, and in more general tones: the problem of the origins of the diaspora in Egypt or Northeast Africa or the Middle East is notorious. Individuals in the same family may identify themselves in different manner according to their own experiences of life or their particular socio-political and religious inclinations.
    Therefore, if one wanted to be absolutely certain, one would have to interview several members of the “Anastasi” family. Do we know if this was done at any point?
    One more detail: there is a renown Anastassiou family of Greek merchants in Egypt who were also involved with antiquities. I am not certain, however, whether it is the same family we are meeting here.
    In any case, it is a pleasure discussing the topic.
    Thanks again for the interest.

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