Sudan & Nubia 17

This is the fourth time that we are presenting in this blog the new volume of the peer-review journal Sudan & Nubia, which has already reached the 17th number of the series.

Sudan & Nubia 17

The cover already is of significance to us, since it is illustrated with a photo by Vincent Francigny who continued this year (in cooperation with Claude Rilly) his very interesting project at Sedeinga, in the immediate vicinity of Sai Island.

Unfortunately, none of the reports included in the 17th issue of Sudan & Nubia concern fieldwork conducted on Sai Island. The only references to Sai in the volume are to be found in the obituary for Michel Azim written by Brigitte Gratien and in the paper by Abdelrahman Ibrahim Saeed Ali, who wrote about ‘The Archaeology of the Medieval and Post-Medieval Fortress at Tinare in the Northern El-Mahas” (pp. 109-112). The first is a mention of Azim’s work with the Pharaonic antiquities on the island, and the second a bibliographical note of the work by John Alexander on Qalat Sai during the Ottoman occupation.

Moreover, the 17th volume did not contain any other work on the Medieval period, but there are three more reports that concern the post-medieval past of Sudan, namely:

– Mariusz Drzewiecki & Pior Malinski, “Jawgul – A Village Between Towers” (pp. 101-108)

– Nada Babiker Mohammed Ibrahim, “Archaeological Survey in El-Metemma area” (pp. 137-141)

– Ahmed Hussein Abdel Rahman Adam, “Archaeological Survey of Aba Island: Preliminary Report” (pp. 142-148)

These four works of varying interest and quality have all been labeled as reports by the editors of Sudan & Nubia, but we doubt that this is a term that can be applied to the study by Drzewiecki & Malinski. Likewise, it seems awkward to label as ‘reports’, the revisiting by D.N. Edwards and A.J. Mills of the sites in Batn el-Hajar excavated  in the frame of the ‘Archaeological Survey of Sudanese Nubia’ in the 1960s, or the ‘autobiographical miscellany’ by W. Y. Adams closing this first and largest section of this volume, where 25 ‘reports’ are presented. The latter would fit, in our opinion, much better in the second section, titled ‘Miscellaneous’, where the obituary for Michel Azim and the review (by W.Y. Adams again) of Giovanni Ruffini’s excellent publication (Medieval Nubia. A Social and Economic History, London 2012) have been included. The former could have made a nice pair with Drzewiecki’s and Mlinski’s paper under a rubric like ‘studies’, where a couple more of the contributions now labelled as ‘reports’ could have found a better place; i.e. the paper by Susie Green “Creating a Virtual Reconstruction of the Seti I Inscription at Jebel Dosha” (pp. 18-23) or the paper by Julie Anderson and Salah Mohamed Ahmed “Dangeil 2012: Sacred Ram – Avatar of the God Amun” (pp. 70-77).  But perhaps the editors had some other idea in mind that escapes us, as in fact the whole matter had escaped our attention in the previous reviews.

What could not escape our attention though, is the absence of the Kirwan Memorial Lecture that proudly opened the previous issues of Sudan & Nubia. Even more so, that in 2013, the Lecture was held by Vivian Davies on the very interesting topic “The Egyptians in Kush: the discoveries of F.W. Green“. Possibly an independent publication is under preparation?

In any case, it is true that the rest of the contributions in volume 17 of Sudan & Nubia are reports of site-specific fieldwork or regional surveys. More precisely:

– Azhari Mustafa Sadig reported on the Lithic Material from the Late Neolithic Site of es-Sour, Central Sudan (pp. 2-7). Azhari’s paper can be downloaded from his page in academia.edu.

– Frederike Jesse, Barbara Eichhorn, and Stefanie Kahlheber reported on the Archaeobotanical Investigations at the Gala Abu Ahmed Fortress in Lower Wadi Howar, Northern Sudan (pp. 24-41). Their paper is of importance for the relations of the Early Kushite world with the western desert.

– Geoff Emberling, Rachel Dann, Mohamed Abdelwahab Mohamed-Ali, Tim Boaz Bruun Skuldbøl, Jack Cheng, and Ed Blinkhorn reported on New Excavations at El-Kurru: Beyond the Napatan Royal Cemetery (pp. 42-60). Alexandros had the chance to meet Geoff’s team during a visit to Karima in January this year.

– Claude Rilly and Vincent Francigny reported from Sedeinga 2012: A Season of Unexpected Discoveries (pp. 61-65). The most intriguing of these discoveries was a relief that sheds light onto the history of the site during the Egyptian colonization in the 18th Dynasty.

– Miroslav Barta, Lenka Sukova and Vladimir Bruna reported on The Latest Explorations at Usli, Northern Province (pp. 66-69) and it is worth noting that the paper can be found at the academia.edu page of Lenka Sukova. Among other interesting material, she has also uploaded her teaching notes from a course on Sudan Archaeology that she teaches at the Charles University in Prague, showing that Sudan Studies may have found new hosts for promotion in the academic world.

– Meredith Brand has written the second of the three papers on Dangeil, titled “Dangeil, A Preliminary Report on Petrography” (pp. 78-89), while Mahmoud Suliman Bashir reported on his exciting finds in A Third Season of Rescue Excavations in the Meroitic Cemetery at Berber (pp. 90-100).

– Murtada Bushara Mohamed, Mohammed Saad Abdalah, Sami Elamien Mohammed, and Zaki aldien Mahmoud reported on the Upper Atbara Setiet Dam Archaeological Salvage Project (pp. 113-123). We have been following the progress of their work through facebook posts and personal emails of our friends who were working in the Upper Atbara, but had considered it inappropriate to publish anything since we knew that Sudan & Nubia would host their paper after completion of fieldwork. But we discussed with concern the new unknown archaeologically region that is being lost by the construction of this huge dam. And it is an important matter to consider that last year almost the same persons were working at Roseires against time and interests to save fragments of the heritage of another unknown region… What comes next?

– Yahia Fadl Tahir reported on the Archaeological, Ethnographical and Ecological Project of El-Ga’ab Basin in Western Dongola (pp. 124-130). A well-written paper that follows up fieldwork results as presented last year in volume 16 of Sudan & Nubia.

– Finally, Derek A. Welsby reported on the Surveys at the Fifth Cataract and on the Sudan Military Railway and excavations at Kawa, 2012-13 (pp. 131-136). A very intriguing detail in Welsby’s paper is the way he chooses to report on the demand of the locals that no archaeological work should be contacted in their region, because they see the archaeologists as precursors of the destruction of their cultural and natural landscape in view of the plans to build dams in the Third Cataract region. Quote from p. 131: “…on the second day whilst recording the third site on the island [of el-Usheir] the work was brought to a halt by circumstances beyond our control.” Silencing the voice of the local communities has unfortunately been mainstream politics among the leading figures of the International Society for Nubian Studies. 

Contrary to this impression stands the representation of Sudanese and khawagias in the list of contributors: seven papers have been authored by Sudanese, while two more have a Sudanese as co-author. 1 out of 3 is not a bad ratio, if one considers how things were a couple of years ago. It remains, however, a desideratum to see a Sudanese periodical publication back in print, be that KUSH or some new journal from the local universities. And there always remains the hope that sooner than later the researches produced in Arabic find their way to the international fora through good translations. In the meantime, Sudan archaeology is entering a new phase and this will have to be balanced between the projects related to the dams and the projects financed by the Qataris. More on that in the last entry for 2013…

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