Death on the Middle Nile: Mortuary Traditions and Identity at the Top of the Great Bend

Author(s): Brenda Baker

Year: 2015


Our understanding of ancient Nubian mortuary traditions principally derives from monumental elite cemeteries such as Kerma, El-Kurru, and Meroe and the 1960s salvage excavations in Lower Nubia. More recent work in Upper Nubia, in northern Sudan, however, has revealed substantial regional variation. Assessment of habitation, rock art, and cemetery sites from the Mesolithic through Christian periods in the Bioarchaeology of Nubia Expedition (BONE) project area on the right (north) bank of the Nile River in the region of el-Ginefab illuminates the rich archaeological record of a previously uninvestigated landscape. Mortuary practices in this "hinterland" at the top of the Great Bend show similarities to "core" sites, but local practices suggest that temporal differences in grave architecture and treatment of the dead are not always as distinct over time. Grave goods, however, indicate integration into far-flung exchange networks rather than isolation. Persistence of local traditions, spatial and social organization within and among cemeteries, and distinct identities marked in life (e.g., dental ablation) or death (e.g., burial with archery equipment) from the Kerma period (c. 2500-1500 BC) through Christian periods (c. AD 550-1400) are discussed to highlight new perspectives on ancient Nubian identity and mortuary behavior.

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Cite this Record

Death on the Middle Nile: Mortuary Traditions and Identity at the Top of the Great Bend. Brenda Baker. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395719)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;