Three new publications

In the previous entry, we referred to a blog produced by a curator of the Sudan National Museum (SNM). Today we are presenting a brand new catalogue with Highlights from the SNM, produced by the British Council, Dal Group, Zain, NCAM and the Sudan Archaeological Society. Responsible for the publication are Abdelrahman Ali Mohamed (Director General of NCAM) and Julie Anderson (Secretary of the ISNS).

As you can see, the linguistic background of the two editors is reflected in the partition of the book in the two main languages of Sudan and Sudan archaeology, namely Arabic and English. However, inside the publication, it is clear that the powerful half is the English one, since for example the maps are not translated into Arabic. We felt a bit strange understanding why both maps are named as General Maps of Sudan, when the second one is obviously just picturing the Nile Valley and probably all the sites named in the publication itself. The information given is in general not going in depth, but this can be understood if one considers the scope of the catalogue, which is to promote the treasures of Sudan archaeology to a wider public. Some mistakes could have been avoided, though. Furthermore, other things that should have been avoided are the total lack of credits to people who have contributed in this publication, who have worked in the Sudan National Museum for the improvement of the display or who have provided material for this publication. As examples, we name: the plan of the second floor gallery was prepared by Dobrochna Zielinska and Alexandros Tsakos who were responsible for the rehabilitation of the exhibition there. The project was funded by UNESCO, in fact by the rest of the money that were not used by Michael Mallinson’s team improving display conditions in SNM more generally. When this project was completed, the second floor of SNM was not only exhibiting wall paintings from Faras (as stated in the publication), but also from Abdel Gadir, Kulubnarti, Meinarti, and Sonqi Tino. No photographs from the interior of this – or other exhibition galleries – have been included in the publication, while all the photos from the medieval and Islamic collections are those used for the catalogue of the exhibition Sudan Ancient Treasures hosted at the British Museum ten years ago. Despite this critic, we are welcoming this first exploit to assemble in a single volume highlights from the collections of SNM and we hope that this is just in anticipation of a complete catalogue, in several volumes, at least one for each historical period of the Sudanese past.

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Earlier this week, we also received the link to the first volume of the new Nubiological/Sudanological journal Dotawo, which was already announced here a year ago. Quite an achievement to bring such a project to fulfillment, don’t you agree?

cover photo

The first volume of Dotawo contains eleven contributions. All are papers produced after lectures given in the frame of the Nilo-Saharan Linguistics’ Colloquium held at Cologne in May 22-24, 2013. Five papers represent purely linguistc topics on various topics of modern Nubian languages. And the remaining six are the majority of the papers from the panel on Old Nubian that was hosted in Cologne last year.

Two of these papers, the one by Petra Weschenfelder and Kerstin Weber, and the one by Vincent van Gerven Oei treat matters of Old Nubian grammar, showing in fact the path for renewed researches on the topic in the post-Browne era.

Very interesting approaches to the nuancing of language, literacy, idiom and society in medieval Nubia are presented in the paper by Giovanni Ruffini. Ruffini has been recognized as the first researcher to use with brilliance the historical data included in the documentary sources from Christian Nubia, and with the present paper proves that he has also an eye for gleaning the treasures hidden behind the linguistic details one is confronted with when working with the difficult corpus of documentary texts in Old Nubian.

More thematically-specific presentations are those by Adam Lajtar and Alexandros Tsakos; the former writing about the Old Nubian texts from Gebel Adda in the Royal Ontarion Museum, the latter focusing on a specific work, namely the Liber Insitutionis Michaelis.

Last but not least, there is the impressive contribution by Grzegorz Ochala offering an exhaustive overview of the data available for revisiting the topic of Multilingualism in Christian Nubia. This paper will be a definite reference in the future (despite its exclusion of Arabic, its mainly quantitative character, and the silencing of works by other researchers that have studied topics related to Ochala’s article).

Warm congratulations!

With such a beginning, one can only be looking forward to seeing the coming products of the Dotawo group!

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Finally, just two days ago appeared online an article about “Raw Material and Technological Changes in Ceramic Productions at Sai Island, Northern Sudan, from the seventh to the third millennium BC” by a group of researchers that we met in our first seasons on the island conducting archaeometric analyses under the direction of Elena Garcea. Brings back memories and memories open the appetite for more adventures…

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