The Elite Meroitic Necropolis of Sai Island Part I: Mortuary Interpretations

Author(s): Vincent Francigny

Year: 2017


Sai Island, located in northern Sudan between the 2nd and 3rd Nile cataracts, boasts a rich archaeological history spanning from the Paleolithic to modern times. Recent archaeological excavations conducted by the French Unit of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums have focused on a small elite Meroitic necropolis (300BC-350AD). Similar to other fringe elite Meroitic cemeteries such as Sedeinga, the Sai Island cemetery features pyramid mortuary structures with descendaries leading into burial chambers located under the pyramid structures. While burial chambers appear to have been only used for adults, Meroitic elite subadult burials have been located within the walls of the pyramid structures. Complicating the archaeological interpretation are Christian subadult burials (600-1500 AD) that were interred in the descendaries, later Ottoman burials (1820-1881) interred throughout the necropolis, and significant comingling due to looting. Here we present the initial interpretations of the mortuary complex and what it has revealed about the Meroitic elite of Sai Island.

Cite this Record

The Elite Meroitic Necropolis of Sai Island Part I: Mortuary Interpretations. Vincent Francigny. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429355)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16807