Poles on the Nile

Sometimes you wonder why you have not heard for a long time from friends from abroad, how they are doing with their lives, when will you catch up with them and discuss again the projects that you work on together. It feels like such a blessing, when suddenly they appear, through a direct contact or through hearing indirectly their news; and how funny that they appear all together as if they had it planned…

So, it happened during the last week with our friends from Poland: first came Magda Wozniak announcing that she won a postdoctoral scholarship from the National Science Centre of Poland with the topic Nubian textiles: craft, trade, costume and identity in the medieval kingdom of Makuria. A person and a research absolutely worth the recognition and the support. Mabruka Magda, félicitations :-)

It seems that in Poland they still know how to keep up the feeling of belonging in an active academic milieu!

And their activities with medieval Nubia have surely given them the position of the capital of studies on Christian Nubia, especially Makuria. Thus, it may have come as no surprise when on the 13th, 14th and 15th June the annual conference “The Poles on the Nile“, where the always fabulous discoveries of our colleagues from Warsaw, Gdańsk, Poznań and elsewhere are presented in the local language, will be concluded after suggestion by professor Godlewski, with the so-called “Day of the kingdom of Makuria” on the 16th of June.

Day of Makuria

The wish to be present is easy to understand, but it will be impossible to attend, for reasons of obligations back home – both in Bergen and in Volda.

We will be present, however, in two indirect manners.

First, because Dobrochna Zielińska invited me to revisit the textual material recorded on the walls of the churches at Tamit, so as to gradually return to the work for the Corpus of Wall Paintings from Christian Nubia, and enhance with the textual evidence her presentation on “Tamit, Raphael’s church – new data” for the “Day of the kingdom of Makuria”! A very timely contribution indeed, since recently there appeared on the net the recent discoveries by professor Godlewski’s team in the Raphael Church at Old Dongola! The exciting new discoveries of murals and inscriptions make a fine coincidence with the intriguing new insights that Dobrochna’s research will offer!

Equally intriguing results will surely be presented in the one-day symposium on the technology of Nubian murals that Dobrochna is organizing with the National Museum of Warsaw on the 27th of June, with the eloquent title: “Angel under the microscope“.

mural techniques

Back to the “Day of the kingdom of Makuria”: in the evening of the 16th of June, professor Godlewski will be presented with an anniversary volume for his 70th birthday, in which we have a contribution on – what else? – the cathedral of Sai Island!

There were still some issues pending with additions we wanted to introduce to our text and had to be completed before it was too late, since the presentation of the book is nigh. So, we had earlier contacted one of the editors of the volume, professor Adam Łajtar to ask for some last moment’s details. Adam of course reacted when all the other news from Poland were streaming to our corner of the world through mails, social media, internet news!

Happily, there were more things to discuss with Adam, first and foremost our plans for his visit in Norway in autumn: some presentation in Bergen, some more in Volda, and great hours of work on the Nubian texts that we study in collaboration await us ahead!!

Adam is one of the three editors of the honorary volume for professor Godlewski. The other two editors are Iwona Zych and Artur Obłuski. Artur’s name also appeared again in my inbox after a very long time of silence due to his extremely demanding schedule as the director of the Cairo Centre of the Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology. We discussed of course issues relating to the Wizz project – and how timely again, since I was talking at Lund about the paleography and codicology of the manuscripts found there – but I also gathered the information that among his activities this year, he was co-organizer of the recent First International Conference on “Archaeology in Egypt & Sudan: Opportunities for Future Collaboration”.

Poster of conference

Now, our dear friend and colleague Pawel Wolf was present in the conference and was kind enough to prepare for the blog a resume of the proceedings as well as provide a copy of the pamphlet with the program and other details that was distributed:

The “1st International Conference on The Archaeology in Egypt and Sudan opportunities for future collaboration”, took place on the 23rd and 24th May 2016, and was organised by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities (especially Dr. Hisham Elleithy) with the collaboration and help of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), the British Museum, the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums in Sudan (NCAM), the Cairo Centre of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, and others.

The two introductory speeches were given by the Egyptian Minister Dr. Khaled El-Enany and the director general of NCAM Dr. Abdelrahman Ali.

The conference included 4 sessions consisting of lectures on:

– Research and Site Management in Sudan and in Egypt (the latter basically focusing on (but not only) fieldwork related to Nubia/Kush in Egypt.

– Museums and Documentation.

– Local community involvement.

A number of keynote lectures summarized various archaeological fieldwork activities in Sudan:

– An overview of archaeological activities in Sudan by Abdelrahman Ali

– The Domat el Hamadab project by P. Wolf.

– The epigraphic survey at Kurgus by V. Davies.

– Amara West by N. Spencer.

The other lectures presented fieldwork results at various sites in Sudan and Egypt; recent developments of training in specific fields such as bio-archaeology; local community involvement; conservation; documentation methods in museums and archives; addressing also possibilities of future cooperation between the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and NCAM.

Two nicely arranged receptions gave the possibility of discussion between the participants of the conference, who came basically from Egypt and the Sudan, as well as Germany, Britain, Poland, and France.

And having passed from Poland to Germany, it is also time for me to leave Norway for Italy, and more precisely Turin and Rome. More from there in the next post…

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