Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Alumnus Jon-Paul M. ('07) in Sudan

This past winter, I went to Sudan to work with the Sudan Archaeological Research Society/British Museum survey of part of the 5th Cataract. This area is to be flooded by the construction of the Shereik Dam, which is likely to be built given Omar al-Basheer's specific reference to its eventuality. My specific interest was to pair my participation in the project with independent work to collect data toward a dissertation. I am working toward a PhD in Geography at the University of Cincinnati focusing on geoarchaeology. My intention was to determine how the environment of this cataract area changed with the southern shift of the rainbelt and how that related to settlement patterns in the area.

Jon-Paul at Meroe.
Unfortunately, despite promises that everything was in order from NCAM (the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums of Sudan), after only a week's worth of work we were confronted in the field by a group of villagers from a settlement in the region (though not from the specific island we were working on at the time) and told to stop. Despite a week of negotiating, no arrangement could be made and the project leader, Derek Welsby made the decision to utilize the remaining time productively rather than sit and hope for a change in circumstances. We closed up shop at the 5th Cataract and moved farther north near Dongola in order to conduct excavations at Kawa, a site where Derek has been conducting excavations for a number of years. The remainder of the season (4 to 5 or so weeks) was spent doing excavations in the settlement's cemetery. I am currently reworking the material for my dissertation, but I do hope to focus on environmental change in relation to cataracts along the Nile.

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