Outlook for upcoming research at Kosha West

My personal favorite landscape in the MUAFS concession area is the left riverbank of the districts Ginis and Kosha which is also rich in archaeology. Beautiful sand dunes and tamarisks dominate the strip along the Nile; desert and rocky outcrops shape the hinterland.

Despite of Covid-19 and the unclear situation regarding our next field season in Sudan, we are of course planning for the ERC DiverseNile project. One of the main tasks for the next season will be test excavations at habitation sites at Kosha West.

If one looks at our new distribution map of sites dating to the New Kingdom, Pre-Napatan and Napatan times, it is striking that the most downstream ones are three sites in the district Kosha West.

Distribution of New Kingdom, Pre-Napatan and Napatan sites in the MUAFS concession.

These are remains of structures/dwellings, situated on three isolated mounds on the dune area with tamarisks. The distance to the Nile is 100-150m. This group of habitation site was already noted by André Vila in the 1970s and he attributed all of them to the Egyptian New Kingdom. This is, however, not the case.

Overview of site 3-P-17.

3-P-17 is traceable with some mud bricks and scattered stones on a mound, the total extension of the site is at present a bit unclear. According to the surface pottery we recorded last year, this site can be attributed to the early 18th Dynasty.

The remains of 3-P-16 are located on a circular mound with a diameter of c. 50m. In the south-eastern part of the mound large amount of mud bricks seem to have once formed a fortification. The dating of this structure must remain unclear for now; the surface material suggests indeed a New Kingdom date, but there were also some Medieval sherds.

Surface at site 3-P-15.

The third habitation site, 3-P-15, comprises a mound of c. 55-100m, the surface is covered by schist blocks and sherds. The appearance of the site is very similar to 3-P-16. In the northeastern part, remains of mud bricks are visible. 3-P-15 is especially intriguing because it shows a continuation from late Ramesside times well into the ninth and maybe even the eight century BC according to the surface ceramics we documented. A more precise dating and a concise characterisation will require excavations – but a New Kingdom only date as suggested by Vila seems were unlikely.

Mud brick remains at site 3-P-15.

For now, we keep our fingers crossed that the Covid-19 situation in Sudan – and of course everywhere else! – will soon improve and everybody stays healthy. Insha’allah our planned fieldwork will be possible somewhen in the near future – there are definitly plenty of things to be checked and discovered between Attab and Ferka!

In focus: Meroitic Sudan in Munich

Within the MUAFS concession, sites datable to the Meroitic Empire are rare and comprise primarily tombs and cemeteries. Settlement sites in the region between Attab and Ferka fall into other periods of Sudan’s history, including the Napatan Empire.

Towns and cities of the Kingdom of Meroe are well known from regions of the country further south – in particular within the island of Meroe, a semi-desert landscape between the Nile and Atbara rivers.

I am delighted that one of the major Meroitic sites, Mouweis, will be the focus of this week’s Sudan archaeology in Munich. Marie Millet from the Louvre Museum will present the recent French excavations at this important city with temples, a palace and production areas. Her research ties in perfectly with the archaeological project of my neighbours here in Munich, the Staatliches Museum für Ägyptische Kunst, and their excavations at the Meroitic site of Naga.

Come and join us on June 27 for Marie Millet’s lecture highlightening recent advances on the archaeology and history of Meroitic Sudan!

Processing data from MUAFS first field season

The last months were really busy with work in Egypt and administrative tasks in Munich. Although the teaching term is ongoing and preparing classes keeps me occupied, there is also some time to process the data we collected in December and January between Attab and Ferka.

The annual one-day international colloquium on “Recent Archaeological Fieldwork in Sudan” at the British Museum London is approaching – and I am delighted that I will have the chance to talk about the most important results from our first field season.

I will try to summarise the distribution of the Vila sites we re-located and discuss some aspects of their dating and cultural classification.

Within the 119 sites we documented, the majority are Christian sites (28,6%). Kerma sites are with 21% also very numerous. The strong presence of Late Bronze Age/Iron Age (New Kingdom, Pre-Napatan and Napatan) sites is with 18,5% also noteworthy. Especially in the northern part of our concession, large tumuli cemetery from the Post-Meroitic period were noted and Post-Meroitic sites comprise 11,8% of our total. The early periods, in particular Abkan and Khartoum Variant sites, are also well presented in the MUAFS concession area (Neo- and Mesolithic sites with 9,2%).

Looking much forward to process these data further until next Monday and in particular to meet all the colleagues working in Sudan on this occasion in London – for scientific and social updates!