Det Kristna Nubien

It is not very often that a general presentation of Christian Nubia passes unnoticed by those interested in the topic. If such cases exist that is mainly due to the language of the work itself. Therefore the title of today’s entry: it is in fact the title of an article (27 pages and 5 figures) in Swedish by Torgny Säve-Söderbergh that was published in Lund (Sweden) in the Yearbook of 1968 of the Nathan Söderblom-Sällskapet (titled “Religion och Bibel”).

Although many ideas expressed therein have been left behind, improved or corrected in more recent years, the well-written text with its abundance of information must have helped the Swedish readers of “Religion och Bibel” to understand many aspects of the Christian Nubian civilization and to learn from the experience acquired by the author of Det Kristna Nubien during his archaeological activities in Lower Nubia.

The Scandinavian Joint Expedition to Sudanese Nubia (SJE), was led by a group of eminent Scandinavian scholars, among whom was also Säve-Söderbergh, and is renown in Nubiological circles for the effectiveness both of their fieldwork and of the publishing of their final reports in 10 volumes (by Astrom editions).

The museum at Uppsala still hosts the SJE’s collection of Nubian Antiquities, while the X-Group and Medieval antiquities are housed in the Archaeological Museum of Stavanger, Norway, but little has been done since the 1960s with this collection except some temporary exhibitions. A third collection, of the skeletal remains, is in Copenhagen, while the rest of the finds are of course in the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum.

Returning to the publication, it is noteworthy that in the 65 volumes of “Religion och Bibel” the paper by Säve-Söderbergh is the only one dealing with Nubian Christianity. Recently, a renewed interest in Nubian Studies and fieldwork in Sudan has been expressed by scholars in Uppsala and a new joint Scandinavian attempt seems to be contemplated for the future.

Although disconnected by the group of archaeologists involved with the Nubian campaign in the 1960s, it is important if indeed Sudan Studies, in general, and research on Medieval Nubia, in particular, finds its place in the curriculum of both Uppsala and other Scandinavian Universities; like Bergen.

This week the new academic year is beginning at the University of Bergen and our wish cannot be other than that the experience gained by the generation of scholars active in Sudan, in the period after the campaign of the 1960s, will be given at some point the chance to blossom. The seed at any rate has been well planted…

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