The archaeology of Nubia and the Middle Nile occupies a special place in sub-Saharan Africa in being concerned with exceptionally early large-scale polities for which we also have historical records, notably: Kerma during the second millennium BC, the Kushite state centred on Napata and then Meroe, and the medieval Nubian kingdoms. The historical sources include not only a range of external sources dating back to the Pharaonic period, but also indigenous texts from the Kushite-Meroitic period and latterly medieval Old Nubian and Arabic documents. It is also a region which has seen considerable, if unevenly distributed, archaeological research, the foundations of which were laid in the nineteenth century. This availability of diverse historical sources and relatively abundant archaeological data thus provides us with opportunities for considering the interplay of archaeology and history over a much greater period than is possible elsewhere in Africa (Andrén 1998: 77-8). However, ‘historical archaeologists’ in this region share some of the problems encountered by those working on more recent periods elsewhere on the continent, both in the prominence of external sources in the framing of the region’s history, and the often uncritical assimilation of historical narrative and traditional culture-history. The unusual history of the development of research in the region, with its strong relationship with Egyptology and its related sub-disciplines (e.g. Coptic Studies) is also significant. With its very close relationship to philology, the discipline represents a very specific form of ‘historical archaeology’, if also being noted for its introspection and relative isolation from other fields of archaeology (O’Connor 1990).
- Material Culture
- Historical Source
- Historical Archaeology
- Archaeological Research
- Textual Source
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Edwards, D. (2004). History, Archaeology and Nubian Identities in the Middle Nile. In: Reid, A.M., Lane, P.J. (eds) African Historical Archaeologies. Contributions to Global Historical Archaeology. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-8863-8_2
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