Settlement patterns in Egypt and Nubia in the 2nd Millennium BC are the main fields of research of the project AcrossBorders (ERC Starting grant no. 313668 and FWF START Prize Y-615). The architecture and structure of Egyptian towns established in Upper Nubia during the New Kingdom (c. 1539-1077 BCE) are almost unknown as it is the case for the social stratification and material culture of these sites.
Sai Island as the prime example for settlement policy of New Kingdom Egypt in Upper Nubia is the focus of this project. Sai is a French concession of University Charles-de-Gaulle Lille 3 (status 2012, new concession holder since 2015 is SFDAS in Khartoum), and AcrossBorders is carried out with both the kind approval of the concession holder Prof. Didier Devauchelle (since winter 2015: Dr. Vincent Francigny) and the Sudanese authorities, the National Corporation for Museums and Antiquities in Sudan (Khartoum), especially its General Director Dr. Abdelrahman Ali Mohamed.
The main hypothesis that has to be tested within the framework of AcrossBorders is whether the settlement on Sai Island can be evaluated as an Egyptian microcosm despite its location outside of Egypt and its specific topographical, environmental and cultural situation. A detailed comparison of the material culture, archaeological data and architecture of Sai and two contemporary major settlement sites in Egypt (Elephantine and Abydos) promises rich information about ancient ways of creating a “home away from home”. New insights on the life style, the living conditions and especially the coexistence and merging of cultures in 2nd Millennium BCE Egypt and Nubia are to be expected.
AcrossBorders conducted its first fieldwork season at Sai Island in 2013 – opening a new area labelled SAV1East. From January to February 2014 the second fieldwork season took place – with SAV1 West we have extended our research, focusing among others on the enclosure wall of the town. The third fieldwork season in Sai focused on both SAV1 East and SAV1 West and new work was started in the cemetery SAC5.
The fourth fieldwork season – working in all sectors within the New Kingdom town and in the cemetery SAC5 – was successfully closed on Sai in March 2016. The last fieldseason of AcrossBorders, yielding the important new discovery of the burial of the master of goldworkers Khnummose, was conducted from Jan. to March 2017.