Mortuary Variability and Identity Upstream of the Fourth Cataract

Author(s): Brenda Baker

Year: 2017


Fieldwork upstream of the Fourth Cataract in northern Sudan reveals substantial variation in mortuary practices among roughly contemporaneous sites on both local and regional levels. Cemeteries in the Bioarchaeology of Nubia Expedition (BONE) concession on the right (north) bank of the Nile River near el-Qinefab include intervisible clusters of graves from the Kerma period (c. 2500-1500 BC) and into the subsequent period of Egyptian colonization of Nubia. These sites constitute a mortuary landscape on the desert terrace distinct from mortuary activity in the Meroitic (c. 350 B.C.-350 AD) through Christian (c. AD 550-1400) periods that is confined to the floodplain. Grave architecture and treatment of the dead in this presumed hinterland show inclusion of imported grave goods in all periods that indicate integration into extensive trade networks rather than marginalization from state-level core areas. Identities among those interred in the desert cemeteries may be reflected by grave styles and burial treatment, including presence or absence of ceramic vessels or imported objects, or inclusions that may reflect activities conducted during life (e.g., a bone implement likely used in pottery production) or more subsistence strategies. This research advances our understanding of ancient Nubian social organization, identity, and interaction.

Cite this Record

Mortuary Variability and Identity Upstream of the Fourth Cataract. Brenda Baker. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429375)


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): 16328