Ceramic makers as social markers at Sai Island, Sudan.

  • Author: Elena A.A. Garcea
  • Topic: 2000 to 10,000 BP,Archaeometry,Pottery studies
  • Country: Sudan
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

Pottery manufacturing can reveal distinct social identities, which can vary through time and space. Detailed analysis of pottery manufacturing and comparison between different productions can be a successful archaeological method to recognise past cultural orbits and their social networks and boundaries. For most effective results, the entire production sequence should be taken into consideration, not single features of the endproducts. The ceramic assemblages taken into consideration come from excavations and surface collections conducted at three sites at Sai Island in the middle Nile valley (Sudanese Nubia), dated between 7000 and 4500 cal BP. Site 8-B-10C belongs to the Khartoum Variant, which is a local hunting-fishing-gathering cultural unit, site 8-B-10A was assigned to the Abkan, which is the earliest pastoral unit, and site 8-B-52A was included in the Pre-Kerma period, preceding the emergence of the kingdom of Kerma. Ceramic analyses of each assemblage included observations on fabrics, surface treatment, and decoration, as well as archaeometric investigations. They were able to provide new insights on the role of Sai Island in Nubia from the 7th to the 5th millennium BP and its relations with human groups in Upper and Lower Nubia, as well as the Sahara. They also offered some new evidence to better understand the spread and occasional overlapping of cultural traditions during such critical times as the latest foraging period, the beginning of food production and goods accumulation, and the relations with emerging complex societies.

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