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The ceramics of Faras, Ballana, Qustul and Qasr Ibrim: a re-appraisal of pottery production and consumption in Lower Nubia during the Meroitic period

By E.D. McCann


This study re-examines ceramic assemblages from regional cemeteries in northern Sudan from the Meroitic era (300 BC- AD 350) as well as Meroitic domestic assemblages from the important citadel and temple site of Qasr Ibrim. A number of objectives are pursued in this study including the first detailed ceramic classification for the Faras ceramics and their correlation with other contemporary assemblages. The ceramic form type seriation for Faras, Ballana, Qustul and Qasr Ibrim is critiqued, as is the validity of currently held ideas concerning the evolution of painted decorative style in Meroitic ceramics. Paramount above other research questions is the consideration of the tangible evidence for 'Romanization' in northern Sudan during the change-over of power from Ptolemaic rule under Augustus. The ceramic evidence presented showcases a poorly understood region at the border of the Roman southern imperial frontier. Ceramic evidence dating to the 1st century BC/AD suggests ceramic emulation in earnest for local (elite) funerary consumption. This pattern soon halted however, surely linked to an extended period of hostilities ending with a formal Roman-Meroitic treaty being drawn up in 20 B.C. and the revoking of Meroe’s client kingdom status. The following centuries demonstrate the development of local ceramic traditions which to draw heavily from native Pharaonic decorative elements and very selectively from generic Greco-Roman motifs such as floral or linear designs. Models of Romanization currently put forward in literature focus upon cultural groups firmly within the jurisdiction of the Roman Empire. Regions which were peripheral to Rome, such as sub-Saharan Africa, Armenia or Parthia have yet to fully develop their own models of cultural acculturation for this period. This dissertation presents a new model which encompasses the socio-political factors present in Meroitic Sudan as well as the millennia-old practice by which Sudan drew new inspiration from contemporary Egyptian culture

Publisher: UCL (University College London)
Year: 2010
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Provided by: UCL Discovery
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