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Ceramic manufacturing techniques and cultural traditions in Nubia from the 8th to the 3rd millennium BC
Examples from Sai Island by Giulia D’Ercole. xviii+186 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white (33 colour plates). Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 96. ISBN 9781784916725.
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In Sudan the first ceramic containers appeared at the beginning of the 9th millennium BC, with the earliest dates c. 8700 BC from Sorourab 2, in Central Sudan, and c. 8600 BC from the district of Amara West, in Northern Sudan.

This book presents a comprehensive critical analysis of diverse ceramic assemblages from Sai Island, in the Middle Nile Valley of Northern Sudan, on the border between ancient Upper and Lower Nubia. The assemblages included in this study cover about five millennia, spanning the period c. 8000 to c. 2500 BC. They go from the initial appearance of ceramic technology within hunting-fishing-gathering communities living in permanent or semi-permanent settlements (locally named ‘Khartoum Variant’ or ‘Mesolithic’ horizon: c. 7600–4800 BC), through the ceramic productions of the first ‘Neolithic’ pastoral societies (Abkan horizon: c. 5550−3700 BC), to those of the Pre-Kerma Nubian culture (c. 3600−2500 BC).

A thorough stylistic macroscopic observation of the finds is integrated with a solid technological approach by means of archaeometric petrographic (OM), mineralogical (XRPD) and chemical (XRF) analyses. Data are discussed and compared across a broad geographical area, including Lower and Upper Nubia, Central Sudan and the Egyptian Western Desert. They provide an original synthesis and interpretation of the ceramic traditions in Nubia and Sudan and propose a critical review of the debate on the invention of pottery and the functional and cultural reasons for the emergence of the ceramic technology.

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