Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The successful ‘recipe’ for a long-lasting tradition: Nubian ceramic assemblages from Sai Island (northern Sudan) from prehistory to the New Kingdom

  • Giulia D'Ercole (a1), Julia Budka (a1), Johannes H. Sterba (a2), Elena A.A. Garcea (a3) and Dieter Mader (a4)...
Abstract

Sai Island, in the Nile in northern Sudan, has a series of settlement sites spanning the entire period from the eighth millennium BC through to the Eighteenth Dynasty of the Egyptian New Kingdom. This long sequence provides an excellent opportunity to study continuity and discontinuity in long-term pottery traditions. Ceramics from the varying cultural phases of the occupation reflect changing dynamics between broader regional social identities, notably Kerma to the south and Egypt to the north. Combining studies of petrography with trace element composition and chaîne opératoire analysis, the authors present the first diachronic study of ceramic manufacture throughout the extended cultural history of Nubia, highlighting the varying manifestations of change and continuity.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence (Email: giulia.dercole@lmu.de)
References
Hide All
Adams, W.Y. 1977. Nubia: corridor to Africa. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.
Beier, T. & Mommsen, H.. 1994. Modified Mahalanobis filters for grouping pottery by chemical composition. Archaeometry 36: 287306. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4754.1994.tb00971.x
Bonnet, C. with the collaboration of Valbelle, D.. 2014. La ville de Kerma. Une capitale nubienne au sud de l’Égypte. Paris: Favre.
Bowser, B.J. & Patton, J.Q.. 2008. Learning and transmission of pottery style: women's life histories and communities of practice in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in Stark, M.T., Bowser, B.J. & Horne, L. (ed.) Cultural transmission and material culture: breaking down boundaries: 105–29. Tucson: Arizona University Press.
Budka, J. 2011. The early New Kingdom at Sai Island: preliminary results based on the pottery analysis (4th season 2010). Sudan & Nubia 15: 2333.
Budka, J. 2014. The New Kingdom in Nubia: new results from current excavations on Sai Island. Egitto e Vicino Oriente 37: 5587.
Budka, J. 2015. The Pharaonic town on Sai Island and its role in the urban landscape of New Kingdom Kush. Sudan & Nubia 19: 4053.
Budka, J. & Doyen, F.. 2013. Living in New Kingdom towns in Upper Nubia—new evidence from recent excavations on Sai Island. Ägypten & Levante 22/23 (2012–2013): 167208.
Carrano, J.L., Girty, G.H. & Carrano, C.J.. 2009. Re-examining the Egyptian colonial encounter in Nubia through a compositional, mineralogical, and textural comparison of ceramics. Journal of Archaeological Science 36: 785–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2008.11.002
Dal Sasso, G., Maritan, L., Salvatori, S., Mazzoli, C. & Artioli, G.. 2014. Discriminating pottery production by image analysis: a case study of Mesolithic and Neolithic pottery from Al Khiday (Khartoum, Sudan). Journal of Archaeological Science 46: 125–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.03.004
D'Ercole, G., Eramo, G. & Muntoni, I.M.. 2014. Archaeometric approaches to ceramic manufactures and traditions at Sai Island, northern Sudan, in Anderson, J.R. & Welsby, D.A. (ed.) The Fourth Cataract and beyond. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference for Nubian Studies (British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 1): 377–86. London: British Museum Press.
D'Ercole, G., Eramo, G., Garcea, E.A.A., Muntoni, I.M. & Smith, J.R.. 2015. Raw material and technological changes in ceramic productions at Sai Island, northern Sudan from the 7th to the 3rd millennium BC. Archaeometry 57: 597616. https://doi.org/10.1111/arcm.12113
D'Ercole, G., Garcea, E.A.A., Eramo, G. & Muntoni, I.M.. In press. Variability and continuity of ceramic manufacturing of ethnographic productions since prehistory in Upper Nubia, Sudan. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Special issue edited by Spataro, M. & Tomber, R..
Doyen, F. 2014. Sai Island New Kingdom town (northern Sudan): 3rd and 4th seasons (2009–2010), in Anderson, J.R. & Welsby, D.A. (ed.) The Fourth Cataract and beyond. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference for Nubian Studies (British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 1): 367–75. London: British Museum Press.
Edwards, D.N. 2004. The Nubian past: an archaeology of the Sudan. London & New York: Routledge.
Francaviglia, V. & Palmieri, A.. 1983. Petrochemical analyses of the ‘Early Khartoum’ pottery. A preliminary report, in Caneva, I. (ed.) Pottery-using gatherers and hunters at Saggai (Sudan). Preconditions for food production (Origini 12): 191205. Rome: s.n.
Garcea, E.A.A. 2006. Semi-permanent foragers in semi-arid environments of North Africa. World Archaeology 38: 197219. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438240600693968
Garcea, E.A.A. 2012. Pottery manufactures at Sai Island, Sudan, in Kabaciński, J., Chłodnicki, M. & Kobusiewicz, M. (ed.) Prehistory of northeastern Africa: new ideas and discoveries (Studies in African Archaeology 11): 153–66. Poznań: Poznań Archaeological Museum.
Garcea, E.A.A. 2016. Multi-stage dispersal of southwest Asian domestic livestock and the path of pastoralism in the Middle Nile Valley. Quaternary International 412 (B): 5464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.01.026
Garcea, E.A.A. In press. The southern periphery of Egypt in the Predynastic period: Nubia in the 5th and 4th millennium BC, in Knabb, K. & Boswell, A. (ed.) Life at the margins of the state: comparative landscapes from the Old and New World. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.
Garcea, E.A.A. & Hildebrand, E.A.. 2009. Shifting social networks along the Nile: Middle Holocene ceramic assemblages from Sai Island, Sudan. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28: 304–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2009.05.002
Garzanti, E., Andò, S., Vezzoli, G., Megid, A.A.A. & El Kammar, A.. 2006. Petrology of Nile River sands (Ethiopia and Sudan): sediment budgets and erosion patterns. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 252: 327–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2006.10.001
Gatto, M.C. 2006a. The Khartoum Variant pottery in context: rethinking the early and middle Holocene Nubian sequence. Archéologie du Nil Moyen 10: 5772.
Gatto, M.C. 2006b. The Nubian A-Group: a reassessment. ArchéoNil 16: 6176.
Geus, F. 1998. Saï 1996–1997. Archéologie du Nil Moyen 8: 85126.
Geus, F. 2004. Pre-Kerma storage pits on Sai Island, in Kendall, T. (ed.) Nubian studies: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the International Society of Nubian Studies, Boston 21–26 August 1998: 4651. Boston (MA): Northeastern University.
Gosselain, O.P. 2008. Mother Bella was not a Bella. Inherited and transformed traditions in southwestern Niger, in Stark, M.T., Bowser, B.J. & Horne, L. (ed.) Cultural transmission and material culture: breaking down boundaries: 150–77. Tucson: Arizona University Press.
Gratien, B. 1986. Saï I: la nécropole Kerma. Paris: CNRS.
Grillo, K.M. 2014. Pastoralism and pottery use: an ethnoarchaeological study in Samburu, Kenya. African Archaeological Review 31: 105–30. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10437-014-9147-6
Hays, T.R. & Hassan, F.A.. 1974. Mineralogical analysis of ‘Sudanese Neolithic’ ceramics. Archaeometry 16: 7179. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4754.1974.tb01093.x
Hildebrand, E.A. 2006–2007. The significance of Sai Island for early plant food production in Sudan, in Gratien, B. (ed.) Mélanges offerts à Francis Geus: Egypte-Soudan (Cahiers de Recherches de l'Institut de Papyrologie et d'Egyptologie de Lille 26): 173181. Lille: l'Institut de Papyrologie et d'Egyptologie de Lille.
Hildebrand, E.A. & Schilling, T.M.. 2016. Storage amidst early agriculture along the Nile: perspectives from Sai Island, Sudan. Quaternary International 412 (B): 8195. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.01.057
Honegger, M. & Williams, M.. 2015. Human occupations and environmental changes in the Nile Valley during the Holocene: the case of Kerma in Upper Nubia (northern Sudan). Quaternary Science Reviews 130: 141–54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.06.031
Jesse, F. 2002. Wavy line ceramics: evidence from northeastern Africa, in Nelson, K. (ed.) Holocene settlement of the Egyptian Sahara. Volume 2: the pottery of Nabta Playa: 7996. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.
Khabir, A.M. 1991. A qualitative change in the texture of temper of Neolithic ceramics from the Central Nile Valley. Sahara 4: 145–48.
Klein, M., Jesse, F., Kasper, H.U. & Gölden, A.. 2004. Chemical characterization of ancient pottery from Sudan by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), electron microprobe analyses (EMPA) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Archaeometry 46: 339–56. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4754.2004.00162.x
Kretz, R. 1983. Symbols for rock-forming minerals. American Mineralogist 68: 277–79.
Küster, D. 1995. Rb-Sr isotope systematics of muscovite from Pan-African granitic pegmatites of western and northeastern Africa. Mineralogy and Petrology 55: 7183. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01162580
Lange, M. & Nordström, H.-A.. 2006. Abkan connections—the relationship between the Abkan culture in the Nile Valley and early Nubian sites from the Laqiya Region (eastern Sahara, northwest Sudan), in Kroeper, K., Chłodnicki, M. & Kobusiewicz, M. (ed.) Archaeology of early northeastern Africa. In memory of Lech Krzyzaniak: 297312. Poznań: Poznań Archaeological Museum.
Lechtman, H. 1977. Style in technology: some early thoughts, in Lechtman, H. & Merrill, T.S. (ed.) Material culture: style, organization, and dynamics of technology: 320. St Paul (MN): West.
Marshall, F. & Hildebrand, E.A.. 2002. Cattle before crops: the beginning of food production in Africa. Journal of World Prehistory 16: 99143. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1019954903395
Nordström, H.-A. 1972. Neolithic and A-Group sites. Uppsala: Scandinavian University Press.
Rose, P. 2012. Early 18th Dynasty Nubian pottery from the site of Sesebi, Sudan, in Forstner-Müller, I. & Rose, P. (ed.) Nubian pottery from Egyptian cultural contexts of the Middle and Early New Kingdom, proceedings of a workshop held at the Austrian Archaeological Institute at Cairo, 1–12 December 2010: 1329. Vienna: ÖAI.
Roux, V. 2008. Evolutionary trajectories of technological traits and cultural transmission: a qualitative approach to the emergence and disappearance of the ceramic wheel-fashioning technique in the southern Levant during the fifth to the third millennia BC, in Stark, M.T., Bowser, B.J. & Horne, L. (ed.) Cultural transmission and material culture: breaking down boundaries: 82104. Tucson: Arizona University Press.
Roux, V. 2013. Spreading of innovative technical traits and cumulative technical evolution: continuity or discontinuity? Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 20: 312–30. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-012-9153-4
Roux, V. & Courty, M.A.. 2013. Introduction to discontinuities and continuities: theories, methods and proxies for an historical and sociological approach to evolution of past societies. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 20: 187–93. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-013-9170-y
Schiffer, M.B. & Skibo, M.. 1997. The explanation of artifact variability. American Antiquity 62: 2750. https://doi.org/10.2307/282378
Sillar, B. & Tite, M.S.. 2000. The challenge of ‘technological choices’ for material science approaches in archaeology. Archaeometry 42: 220. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4754.2000.tb00863.x
Smith, S.T. 2003. Wretched Kush: ethnic identities and boundaries in Egypt's Nubian empire. London & New York: Routledge.
Spataro, M., Millet, M. & Spencer, N.. 2015. The New Kingdom settlement of Amara West (Nubia, Sudan): mineralogical and chemical investigation of the ceramics. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 7: 399421. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-014-0199-y
Sterba, J.H., Mommsen, H., Steinhauser, G. & Bichler, M.. 2009. The influence of different tempers on the composition of pottery. Journal of Archaeological Science 36: 1582–89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2009.03.022
van Pelt, W.P. 2013. Revising Egypto-Nubian relations in New Kingdom Lower Nubia: from Egyptianization to cultural entanglement. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 23: 523–50. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959774313000528
Vercoutter, J. 1986. Préface. L'archéologie de l’île de Saï, in Gratien, B., Saï I: la nécropole Kerma: 917. Paris: CNRS.
Woodward, J., Macklin, M., Fielding, L., Millar, I., Spencer, N., Welsby, D. & Williams, M.. 2015. Shifting sediment sources in the world's longest river: a strontium isotope record for the Holocene Nile. Quaternary Science Reviews 130: 124–40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.10.040
Zedeňo, M.V. 2002. Neolithic ceramic production in the Eastern Sahara of Egypt, in Nelson, K. (ed.) Holocene settlement of the Egyptian Sahara, volume 2: the pottery of Nabta Playa: 5164. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

D'Ercole supplementary material
Document S1

 PDF (41 KB)
41 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

D'Ercole supplementary material
Table S1

 Unknown (12 KB)
12 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

D'Ercole supplementary material
Table S2

 Unknown (34 KB)
34 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 23
Total number of PDF views: 159 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 904 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th January 2017 - 21st August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.