Nothing really ends…

Today Dr. John Gait gave to us “A new look at old pots” by presenting his work with petrographic and macroscopic analyses of pottery from the Lower Nubian Nile Valley in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. John was kind enough to allow the presentation to be constantly interrupted by questions from the audience and this helped us enormously to understand the results from the application of such methods for reconstructing a more nuanced picture of the communities whose ceramic industries we are studying.

Image courtesy of the Liverpool World Museum

Image courtesy of the Liverpool World Museum

Moreover, it gave us time to consider how useful the applications of such techniques could be for the Medieval Sai Project that is always in search of the appropriate manner to tackle the difficult site of Dibasha with the clear signs of industrial activity, very probably pottery kilns included.

Dibasha kilns by Medieval Sai Project

Dibasha kilns by Medieval Sai Project

And just then we realized that we had started again dreaming of a return to Sai; nothing really ends…

John’s presentation was the last one in this (first?) Sudan Archaeology Week in Bergen that opened with Cornelia Kleinitz’s talk on Rock art and Graffiti from Ancient Sudan. Cornelia was also the main speaker during the second talk on Tuesday, when Community Archaeology was discussed on the basis of the excellent work that she is doing together with Stefania Merlo from Wits University in South Africa. Cornelia’s main co-panelist was Mohamed Farouq Abdelrahman who joined us through skype from California, staying awake and keeping the discussion very lively until very late in his time zone – in fact almost very early in the morning. John was also present and naturally followed along the whole discussion. It is very difficult not to get engaged in such passionate topics like cultural heritage, politics and archaeology, and the relations of archaeologists with the local communities. Especially in a country like Sudan, with very acute contrasts between traditional lifestyles and violent forms of development; lots of archaeology and even more illegal gold mining; dams that threaten lands (also) of ethnic minorities; controversial legal frameworks; and neo-colonial attitudes in financial investments and scientific collaborations.

In the end of the discussion we knew how we would like to approach the local communities of Sai Island, although we cannot figure out yet how the time-consuming method is applicable to our realities of life… Perhaps the shift of paradigm for conducting fieldwork means a change of mindset… Challenging times to conduct archaeology abroad!

And just as we thought that with such a conclusion we had put an end to the troublesome thoughts about cultural heritage in the Sudan, a post at Azhari Sadig’s blog today made us realize that some things never end…

El Khandaq

The news have circulated only in Arabic, but Azhari gave us this comment a couple of hours ago:

“The issue started yesterday when a government surveyor come to take measurements from a historical house in El Khandaq site (known locally as the Officer House… bait al mamour)… He told professor Intissar Soghayroun el-Zein <from the University of Khartoum who is leading the archaeological works at El Khandaq> that the area was sold including the house!!! and they must ask the office in El Goulid…. The house is already classified for restoration this year and there is agreement between the N.C.A.M., Intissar and Al Wilaya Al Shemalia to protect the site and all buildings inside it…. Still there is no word from N.C.A.M. or the local government…”

Well, that’s one of the cases that one should demand loudly that some things come to an end…

This entry was posted in archaeology, Norway, Sai Island and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Nothing really ends…

  1. Pingback: Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #10 | Doug's Archaeology

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