One More for the Road: Beer, Sacrifice and Commemoration in Ancient Nubian Burials of the Classic Kerma Period
Author(s): Elizabeth Minor
The funerary equipment of the Classic Kerma elite community included sets of ceramic vessels accompanying the primary deceased and sacrificed individuals. Stacks of beakers were placed in communal areas of graves, suggesting that the vessels were intended for group use in the afterlife. Graves with extraordinary organic preservation include woven giraffe-hair implements placed near the vessels. In comparison with ethnographic examples, these tools are beer strainers. Two graves also had vessels with preserved beer mash. Beer provided an important source of nutrition in Nubia, as in Egypt, and ancient Nubian beer is notable for containing natural tetracycline.
The placement of communal beer vessels and drinking equipment in elite graves demonstrates the social nature of imbibing alcoholic beverages in the Classic Kerma culture. The beer stored in larger vessels was strained and then served to others in smaller beakers. This process of consumption acted to reinforce the social relationships between the participants. In death, these relationships were manifested through the coercion of individuals to be sacrificed to accompany the burial of the primary deceased individual. The carefully arranged beer equipment was brought into the mortuary context, ready to be tapped to continue to commemorate these relationships in perpetuity.
Cite this Record
One More for the Road: Beer, Sacrifice and Commemoration in Ancient Nubian Burials of the Classic Kerma Period. Elizabeth Minor. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429349)
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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;
Abstract Id(s): 16392