The ERC DiverseNile project is embedded in the MUAFS project. In a recent post I explained the meaning of the new DiverseNile logo. The MUAFS logo was already created in 2018, but what exactly does it show?
We tried to illustrate the main aims of the project in the logo which is based on a rock art drawing in our concession (see Vila 1976, fig. 22).
Within the MUAFS project, the area between Attab and Ferka will be investigated with a biography of a landscape approach and a long durée approach, considering all attested periods; the area is a natural and cultural border zone and therefore relevant for border studies.
We are very much interested in humans and cultural groups inhabiting and shaping the area. Objects and the material culture throughout the time is another of our research aims. Animals and other non-humans like plants will also be considered with priority. And finally, bringing these aspects together, we also focus on general activities and production within this area.
The world has changed since last week – COVID-19 has a major influence on archaeological fieldwork, universities and museums. MUAFS was very lucky in this respect – after our odyssey with the extra day in Khartoum and a night in Istanbul, we made it safely to Munich, just in time before borders got closed and flights cancelled. Of course all planned fieldwork in Egypt in April had to be cancelled and I could also not make my home visit to Vienna. But difficult times require flexibility and the most important thing now is of course to flatten the curve and to stay safe (and home)!
research for MUAFS is of course still possible and all of us are using the time
in home office for reading things and compiling the data from the 2020 season.
The following is just a short summary of our test excavations of the 2020 season – this season was a preparation season for the next, longer field season which will be the start of my new European Research Council Project DiverseNile. Thus, the focus was on promising sites dating to the Bronze Age/Kerma Period in the Ginis East area where also Egyptian presence of the New Kingdom is attested.
In order to get familiar with the site formation processes and sedimentation in the area, we conducted at four sites in the district of Ginis East small test excavations. A total of 8 trenches were excavated by the team; local workmen will be engaged in the next season.
As you will see in the following – the results from the individual sites were not as we hoped for but are nevertheless very important outcomes of what was designed as a test season.
I will start with site GIE 001 and a separate post will present the results from the other sites at Ginis East.
GiE 001 – a New Kingdom (and Kerma?) settlement site
Recorded by Vila
as 2-T-36B, this domestic site at Ginis East can be assigned to the Egyptian
New Kingdom, showing also an intriguing Kerma presence according to the surface
finds. Magnetometry was conducted by MUAFS in 2019. In the 2020 season, two
trenches were laid out above promising anomalies in the magnetometry in the
northeastern part of the site.
Trench 1 (6 x 4
m) yielded, apart from surface finds which were mixed and dated from the Kerma
Period, the New Kingdom, the Napatan Period and Christian times, some Kerma
Classique sherds from lower levels. However, no structures were found and the
magnetometry seems to show natural features, especially more sandy areas which
contrast to clay layers/alluvial sediments.
Trench 2 (10 x 4 m) generated large quantities of ceramics and stone tools from the surface. The main archaeological features found in this trench were sub-recent pits deriving from marog activities. The largest of these pits in Trench 2, Feature 1, is 2.40 m in diameter and 75 cm deep. It was filled with fine sand and the traces of the tools the marog diggers used are clearly visible on the sloping edges. We documented everything in 3D according to our standard procedure. The find material comprised mostly mixed pottery from the New Kingdom, Napatan and Medieval era as well as some recent date seeds and small pieces of charcoal and bone.
Both trenches in GiE 001 did not yield mud bricks or
any structures from the New Kingdom; it is likely that this part with the
trenches is already located outside of the former settlement area. That the
area was inhabited and used during both the 18th Dynasty and the
Ramesside period, becomes nevertheless evident from the find assemblages we
Excavation and processing of data at GIE 001 will continue, but for now the New Kingdom site with later use seems associated with gold exploitation in the periphery of Sai Island and Amara West, as I have already proposed in an earlier post based on the finds (ceramics and stone tools).
2020 season will be officially closed today – we arrived safely in Khartoum
yesterday and will now finish all the paperwork.
The last days at Ginis were busy, finishing off the survey, packing and registering the finds from this season. A more concise summary of the 2020 season will follow shortly, but here are some observations regarding our survey.
Like in 2019, one particular
focus of our survey was on the state of preservation of the sites nowadays –
unfortunately, at almost all sites, we observed modern destruction and/or
plundering. Especially drastic were destructions because of road building, the
electricity posts and modern gold working areas.
One particular striking example is the large tumulus within the Post-Meroitic site 3-P-1 at Kosha East. This monumental tumulus, comparable to the ones at Ferka, but also to the famous tombs at Qustul and Ballana, has completely gone by now. According to information kindly given by local villagers, it was removed in 2008.
Where Jessica is standing in this photo, there used to be an elite tomb monument dating back to Post-Meroitic times. Large parts of cemetery 3-P-1 are now under modern fields; the line of electricity cuts the southern extension of the site. The nearby Kerma cemetery was affected by the construction work of the road to Wadi Halfa and the Neolithic sites located in the hills above the Kosha plain just 300m to the southeast are strongly influenced by modern gold working.
Altogether, as successful as our 2020 survey was, re-locating 40 sites of the ones documented by Vila and finding a number of previously unrecorded sites, we were also faced with very frustrating news and massive destruction of the archaeological monuments. There clearly is the urgent need to undertake cultural heritage actions in the region, but this is something where MUAFS will need help and support from several authorities.