People on Sai – Ramesside Deputies of Kush on Sai Island

Prosopography is about people. With this phrase, I already began my last blog post assessing the social fabric of New Kingdom Sai as it becomes visible through the prosopographical data of its elite necropolis, SAC5. During the last field seasons, a new tomb, T 26, was discovered and excavated there (Budka 2015). At the bottom of its shaft, lintel and door jamb fragments as well as an inscribed sandstone pyramidion were found. The inscription on the latter artefact added another very important person to the prosopographical list of this cemetery: the deputy of Kush Hornakht. He was already known from four inscribed architectural elements coming from the Pharaonic town itself and two others found in Abri and Amara East (Fouquet 1975, Budka 2001, 210-212). Additionally, a door lintel fragment was quite recently discovered in a modern village on Sai showing him together with his wife (Budka 2015). This attestation adds another female entry to the Sai prosopographical list which is quite gender biased in favour of male members of the local society. This is, however, typical for Pharaonic Egypt and Sudan.

Hornakht and his wife (photo: J. Budka).

Hornakht and his wife (photo: J. Budka).

When we consider his archaeological monuments, it becomes clear that the deputy of Kush Hornakht had an office building or residence in the city centre of Sai and a monumental tomb with a pyramid at SAC5. This puts Sai back on the map for a certain administrative presence during Ramesside times, when a little further north at Amara West a new walled town was founded by Sethi I and substantially redeveloped under Ramses II that functioned as the seat of power for the administration of Kush (Spencer/Stevens/Binder 2015). Based on the limited geographical distribution of the monuments of Hornakht in the Amara-Abri-Sai region, Julia Budka has recently argued that Hornakht might be a local born on Sai, who was educated in Egypt and later send back to his hometown to fulfil his administrative duties as agent of the Pharaonic state (Budka 2015). He was, therefore, definitely a direct member of the local social fabric and of considerable social and functional standing. Accordingly, he also chose to be buried in the elite necropolis of his home town in a typical private New Kingdom pyramid tomb.

Hornakht is, however, not the only Ramesside deputy of Kush known from Sai. In 1843, Richard Lepsius came across two door jambs with the cartouche of Thutmosis III. Both had the subsequently added image of an official with his titles and name on their inside. They read “overseer of all priests of all gods” and “deputy of Kush Usermaatrenakht” (Lepsius 1913, 226). In 1954, a possible fragment of one of these door jambs could be recovered (Vercoutter 1956, 76). Based on his basilophorous name, Usermaatrenakht might also be considered an official of non-Egyptian descent (Nubian?) in the service of the Pharaonic state in Upper Nubia (cf. Schulman 1990). The presence of two Ramesside deputies of Kush on Sai is, therefore, of interest for understanding the social and political importance of the town in the 19th Dynasty in the region. At Amara West, however, several other individuals with the title of “deputy (of Kush)” are – next to viceroys and other local officials – known from the town and the cemetery (Spencer 1997; Spencer/Binder 2015). All these individuals equally attest to the particular prominence of Amara West in Ramesside times in the region and in Upper Nubia in general.

Bibliography:

Budka 2001: J. Budka, Der König an der Haustür. Die Rolle des ägyptischen Herrschers an dekorierten Türgewänden von Beamten im Neuen Reich, Veröffentlichungen der Institute für Afrikanistik und Ägyptologie der Universität Wien 94, Beiträge zur Ägyptologie 19, Wien.

Budka 2015: J. Budka, Ein Pyramidenfriedhof auf der Insel Sai, in: Sokar 31, 54-65.

Fouquet 1975: A. Fouquet, Deux Hauts-Fonctionnaire du Nouvel Empire en Haute-Nubie, in: CRIPEL 3, 127-140.

Lepsius 1913: K. R. Lepsius, Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien. Text Bd. 5, hrsg. von Edouard Naville, bearbeitet von Walter Wreszinski, Leipzig.

Schulman 1990: A. R. Schulman, The Royal Butler Ramessesami’on. An Addendum, in: CdE, 65, 12-20.

Spencer 1997: P. Spencer, Amara West I. The architectural report, EES 63, London.

Spencer/Binder 2015: N. Spencer, M. Binder, Amara West 2015 (week 6): a familiar character appears. URL: https://blog.amarawest.britishmuseum.org/2015/02/21/amara-west-2015-week-6-a-familiar-character-appears/ (last accessed: July 4th, 2016).

Spencer/Stevens/Binder 2015: N. Spencer, A. Stevens & M. Binder, Amara West. Living in New Kingdom Nubia, London.

Vercoutter 1956: J. Vercoutter, New Egyptian texts from the Sudan, in: Kush 4, 66-82.

People on Sai – Thoughts on the New Kingdom Prosopography of the Elite Necropolis SAC5

Prosopography is about people. This statement emphasises the importance of prosopography as a specific means of shedding light onto the social fabric and historical development of ancient and modern population groups. In our case, this society is the people of Sai during the New Kingdom. Prosopography in its broadest sense can be defined as “the investigation of the common background characteristics of a group of actors in history by means of a collective study of their lives” (Stone 1971). However, we can only tackle certain aspects of people’s lives using ‘prosopography’ due to the nature of the data from Pharaonic Egypt. Despite this shortcomings, what really matters are the questions we ask in order to understand lives and the social fabric based on prosopographical data. As for New Kingdom Sai, texts and monuments with names and titles of individuals from the island itself or with links to the Pharaonic town constitute the basis for a prosopographical ‘sociography’, i.e. an assessment and discussion of the social fabric of the town and its population.

Fig. 01

Fig. 01

Cemeteries of Pharaonic towns in both Egypt and Nubia represent certain parts of the local society. Within the New Kingdom funerary landscape of Sai, that consists of three burial grounds (SAC1, SAC4 and SAC5; Fig. 01), it is only cemetery SAC5 that yielded texts and objects with prosopographical data (Minault-Gout/Thill 2012, esp. 403-418). Both the architecture of the tombs with chapels and pyramids and single or multi-chambered subterranean structures and the remains of the funerary object assemblages allow us to call SAC5 the elite necropolis of New Kingdom Sai. The question of whether the individuals interred here were ‘Egyptian’ or ‘Nubian’ is not of special concern for our endeavour. The fact, that they were buried here, is proof that they belonged to the local community regardless of their origin or ethnicity.

At present, 26 elite tombs are excavated at SAC5. An assessment of their archaeological as well as prosopographical ‘yield’ (Fig. 02) shows that the use life of this cemetery spans most of the New Kingdom from mid-18th Dynasty to later Ramesside and even beyond to Napatan times. The title and name-bearing small-finds among the funerary assemblages are the typical objects also found in other elite New Kingdom cemeteries in Nubia, especially shabtis, heart scarabs and heart scarab pectorals. Architectural elements from the tomb chapels and pyramids preserve information on the interred persons, too. In tomb T 2, five male members of the New Kingdom Sai society are attested. Three of them – Merimose, Hui and Ky-iri – are local priests, although there is no indication of the cult they were attached to. The letter-scribe Horemheb is part of the administrative sphere of the town responsible for its correspondence. The objects from tomb T 8 bear witness to two further local priests. In tomb T 3, an intriguing faience plaque with the name of Ramessesnakht, viceroy of Nubia under Ramesses IX, came to light. The burial with this sealing plaque is not considered to belong to the viceroy himself. It might rather belong to a local member of the late Ramesside administration of Nubia who was given this plaque as a token of loyalty during his lifetime. However, Ramessesnakht’s tomb is not known.

Fig. 02

Fig. 02

Tomb 5 is of special importance for the upper end of the social fabric of the Pharaonic town. Based on the names and titles from a heart scarab, a shabti and a faience vase, it belonged to a family of local mayors. While the other tombs from SAC5 provided ‘only’ scribes and priests, we encounter here the highest municipal representatives of Pharaonic state agency in New Kingdom Sai, the city governors Ipy and Neby. Both date to the mid-18th Dynasty and might be father and son, since the mayoral office is regularly transmitted like this in the New Kingdom. The exact familial relation of the songstress Henut-aat (or Henut-taui) to both Ipy and Neby is unclear. Her title, however, puts her in a rather high female elite stratum as well. One of the tomb owners, Neby, even seems to be identical with the mayor and director Neby attested further north at the Tanjur rapids in the Batn el-Hajar with three rock inscriptions (Hintze/Reineke 1989, 170-177; Fig. 03 after Hintze/Reineke 1989, 235). His territorial radius even went well beyond the confines of the town.

Fig. 03

Fig. 03

Mayors or city governors are typical for all New Kingdom towns and cities in Egypt and Nubia. A recent assessment of the distribution of New Kingdom mayoral tombs has shown, that they are in most cases buried in the elite necropoleis of the city which they administered (Auenmüller 2011; Fig. 04). This typological trait can also be seen with Ipy and Neby and their interment in tomb 5 at SAC5. However, there is another mid-18th Dynasty mayor of Sai attested. This Ahmose installed two statues of himself at Thebes (Bologna KS 1823) and Karnak (CG  42047) respectively. Both statues indicate his special relations to Thebes or even a Theban origin. He therefore might be the first mayor of the newly established colonial town, sent to Sai under Thutmose III. Although Ahmose’s tomb is not known, it is generally assumed that his funeral took place at Thebes, his home town and place of belonging. By contrast, Ipy and Neby seem to represent the second generation of local administrators who lived on Sai for some time, identified themselves with the town, were parts of its social fabric and finally chose to be buried here.

Fig. 04

Fig. 04

Further titles and names are attested through funerary stelae and shabtis. However, due to the rather fragmented state they are less informative. They nevertheless show that SAC5 in its original state must have been a very well equipped funerary landscape for the local elite. This was further stressed by AcrossBorders’ discovery of a new tomb, tomb T 26 (Budka 2015). This new monument yielded the pyramidion of a very important person: the deputy of Kush Hornakht, who flourished in the 19th Dynasty. He and his elite colleagues that are also – or especially – known from the area of the town will be subject of some future blog posts.

A summarising look back at the Sai SAC5 prosopography allows for some comments: Although the data is quite fragmented, it displays both religious and administrative personnel of the town. Both domains, temple and administration, are typically represented by officials in New Kingdom town cemeteries in Egypt and Nubia (cf. esp. Soleb: Schiff-Giorgini 1971). Of high importance for and within the town’s social fabric are the two 18th Dynasty mayors Ipy and Neby. They belonged to the Egyptian elite that came or was sent south to Nubia to act as municipal agents of the Pharaonic state on Sai. Exceptional, however, is the attestation of the deputy of Kush Hornakht, who we know was active in the 19th Dynasty. His person provokes further thoughts on the role of Sai as administrative centre and urban fabric in Upper Nubia during Ramesside times.

Bibliography:

Auenmüller 2011: J. Auenmüller, Individuum – Gruppe – Gesellschaft – Raum. Raumsoziologische Perspektivierungen einiger (provinzieller) HA.tj-a Bürgermeister des Neuen Reiches, in: G. Neunert, K. Gabler & A. Verbovsek (eds.), Sozialisationen: Individuum – Gruppe – Gesellschaft, GOF IV/51, Wiesbaden 2011, 17-32.

Budka 2015: J. Budka, Ein Pyramidenfriedhof auf der Insel Sai, in: Sokar 31, 2015, 54-65.

Hintze/Reineke 1989: F. Hintze & W. F. Reineke, Felsinschriften aus dem sudanesischen Nubien, Publikation der Nubien-Expedition 1961-1963, Band 1, Berlin 1989.

Minault-Gout/Thill 2012: A. Minault-Gout & F. Thill. Sai II. Le cimetière des tombes hypogées du Nouvel Empire SAC5, FIFAO 69, Cairo 2012.

Schiff-Giorgini 1971: M. Schiff-Giorgini, Soleb II. Les necropoles, Florence 1971.

Stone 1971: L. Stone, Prosopography, in: Daedalus 100, No. 1, 1971, 46-79.

Nehi and Hornakht at Sai Island

Getting ready for the 8. Tagung zur ägyptischen Königsideologie in Budapest (12-14 May, 2016)!

Budka_Budapest 2016

I will speak on this occasion about “Constructing royal authority in New Kingdom towns in Nubia: some thoughts based on inscribed monuments from private residences”. The practice of decorating private residences with scenes of adoring the ruling king, represented by his cartouches, and with corresponding texts giving praise to the king is well attested in the New Kingdom. From the reign of Thutmose III onwards, there are examples from officials of various ranks and with diverse duties at sites located in both Egypt and Nubia. These scenes and texts—like other sources—clearly illustrate that for an Egyptian official, loyalty to the king was the key to general well-being and promotion. My paper will highlight a number of aspects of royal authority and its construction in the New Kingdom temple towns of Nubia, which were built on behalf of the living ruler within a “foreign” landscape.

One important aspect is that power of the king was embodied in Lower and Upper Nubia by the viceroy of Kush and his deputies. This can be nicely illustrated by finds from Sai Island, as I tried to show at the last Königsideologietagung in Prague. At Budapest, I will present new discoveries by AcrossBorders attesting to two well-known high officials:  viceroy Nehi under the reign of Thutmose III and deputy of Kush Hornakht under Ramesses II.

SAV1E 2326 (thumbnail)Among the numerous clay sealings from feature 15, there is also one piece (SAV1E 2326), which gives the name and a specific title for Nehi.

Hornakht was already well attested from several door jambs and lintels found at Sai and Abri – but recent work in cemetery SAC5 allows reconstructing the pyramid tomb of this deputy of Kush from the 19th Dynasty on Sai.

Budka_Budapest HornakhtAll in all, I will propose some new thoughts on the perception of the power of Egyptian kingship in New Kingdom Nubia – looking much forward to feedback and discussions and of course to all of the other papers at the Königstagung in Budapest!

Some thoughts on the Legitimization of Pharaonic Power in Nubia

Back in 2013, I was fortunate to participate in the highly interesting 7. Tagung zur Königsideologie (June 26-28 2013), hosted by the Charles University in Prague and dedicated to “Royal versus Divine Authority. Acquisition, Legitimization and Renewal of Power”. The proceedings are now published and I would like to summarise some of my ideas given in this paper (Budka 2015).

Taking Sai Island and the evolution of its fortified town of the New Kingdom with a small sandstone temple as a case study, I tried to re-examine the evidence for Egyptian authority in Upper Nubia during the Eighteenth Dynasty. Focal points are the viceregal administration, the most important deities, the temples and the royal cult in Nubia. Considerable limits in assessing real dynamics in Upper Nubia during the early New Kingdom are highlighted and the potential of an approach which includes both archaeological and textual sources is stressed.

AcrossBorders’ work on the evolution of the Pharaonic settlement at Sai Island is still in progress – our 2015 field season resulted in many interesting new finds highly relevant for administrative aspects. In 2013, the purpose of my Prague paper was presenting preliminary results and highlighting the potential contribution of settlement archaeology to understand power structures during the New Kingdom.

The basic outline of the Egyptian Administration in Nubia is well understood and has been discussed by several scholars, most recently by Müller (2013) and Morkot (2013). Tracing the local administration on a regional level becomes more difficult, and here it is especially challenging to speak about the persons involved. I tried to address in the paper some of the individuals behind the “re-conquest” of Kush and speak about personal dynamics, taking the viceroys of Kush and mayors as examples. Two individuals with the title “H3tj-c” have been buried on Sai (Minault-Gout/Thill 2012), but as yet no in situ evidence for the mayor of Sai was found within the walled town.

MayorsAll in all, I hope to have illustrated in the article the changing character of Sai from the reign of Ahmose Nebpehtyra to Thutmose III, very well traceable in both the architecture and the material culture. The “re-conquest” of Kush was a long process with changing Pharaonic authority and differing areas of influence. The new administrative system and the divine kingship established under Thutmose III reflect political changes and altered power structures in Upper Nubia (cf. Török 2009), and within this system Sai developed to become a very important centre.

Budka Prague Königsideologie 2013aOur still limited understanding of the real dynamics in Upper Nubia during the early New Kingdom will hopefully be improved by the ongoing fieldwork on key sites like Sai, Sesebi and others. Quoting from my paper: “At present, it is essential to consider the lack of evidence for Egyptian authority in Kush at the beginning of the New Kingdom, but to carefully distinguish it from confirmed lack of presence.” (Budka 2015, 81).

References:

Budka 2015 = J. Budka, The Egyptian “Re-conquest of Nubia” in the New Kingdom – Some Thoughts on the Legitimization of Pharaonic Power in the South, in: Royal versus Divine Authrority. Acquisiation, Legitimization and Renewal of Power, 7th Symposium on Egyptian Royal Ideology, Prague, June 26-28, 2013, ed. by F. Coppens, J. Janák & H. Vymazalová, Königtum, Staat und Gesellschaft früher Hochkulturen 4,4, Wiesbaden 2015, 63-82.

Minault-Gout/Thill 2012 = A. Minault-Gout, F. Thill, Saï II. Le cimetière des tombes hypogées du Nouvel Empire (SAC5), Fouilles de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale 69, Cairo 2012.

Morkot 2013 = R. Morkot, From conquered to conqueror: the organization of Nubia in the New Kingdom and the Kushite administration of Egypt, in J. C. Moreno García (ed.), The Administration of Egypt, Handbuch der Orientalistik 104, Leiden 2013, 911-963.

Müller 2013 = I. Müller, Die Verwaltung Nubiens im Neuen Reich, Meroitica 18, Wiesbaden 2013.

Török 2009 = L. Török, Between Two Worlds: The Frontier Region between Ancient Nubia and Egypt 3700 BC – 500 AD, Probleme der Ägyptologie 29, Leiden 2009.

Sai during the 19th Dynasty: a brief update and outlook

A remarkable object, SAV 002, of possible 19th Dynasty date from Sai Island was already discussed in this blog – it seems to present some kind of door sealing with a cartouche stamp of [Men]-maat-Ra (Seti I), finding close parallels at Amara West.

In a paper just published in Egitto et Vincino Oriente 37, 2014 (Budka 2015), I stated in relation to this piece: “Future fieldwork might allow a better understanding of the relations between Sai and Amara West in the early Ramesside period – SAV 002 and its parallels from Amara West can be regarded as important hints for contemporaneous administrative activities at both sites.”

Writing this back in summer 2014, I was of course not expecting to see this hope for further evidence coming true already in the very next season!

Although we are far away from understanding the complete picture, the 2015 field season provided multiple proof for the presence of early Ramesside officials and corresponding activities on Sai:

1)      At SAV1 West, a back-filling in the Northeastern corner of Square 1 could be dated to the early 19th Dynasty. It covers the remains of a small oven room where several phases of use were documented. Obviously the room was built during the mid-18th Dynasty and in use until the late 18th Dynasty – the Ramesside material implies a possible abandonment of the structure.

2)      Scattered ceramics datable to the Ramesside period were also found at SAV1 East – in disturbed contexts above Building A.

3)      Finally, SAC5 has yielded both worked stones and ceramics datable to the 19th Dynasty. Two new inscribed monuments of the jdnw n Kush Hornakht are especially relevant – this high official was active during the reign of Ramesses II, well attested by monuments found especially in Abri and Sai.

The new finds allow us to tentatively assume that the stela set up by Seti I on Sai which was discovered during the early French excavations (Vercoutter 1972; el-Saady 2011), is much more than random evidence, but actually reflects the ongoing importance of Sai as (some kind of) Egyptian administrative centre. Field research in both Sai and Amara West will continue to provide more and more pieces to reconstruct this complex puzzle.

REFERENCE

Budka 2015 = J. Budka, The New Kingdom in Nubia: New results from current excavations on Sai Island, Egitto e Vicino Oriente 37, 2014 [2015], 55-87.

el-Saady 2011 = H. el-Saady, Egypt in Nubia during the Reign of Seti I, in M. Collier, S. Snape (ed.), Ramesside Studies in Honour of K.A. Kitchen, Bolton 2011, 433-437.

Vercoutter 1972 = J. Vercoutter, Une campagne militaire de Séti en Haute Nubie. Stèle de Saï S. 579, «Revue d’Égyptologie» 24, 1972, 201-208.

Tracing Ramesside burials in SAC 5

Since a few days we have the confirmation that the burial chamber of tomb 26 opens to the north. Today, the excavation of the shaft was completed, reaching a depth of more than 5.20 m.

Cleaning remains on top of the shaft base of tomb 26.

Cleaning remains on top of the shaft base of tomb 26.

The filling material of the shaft was highly interesting – especially in the lowest level just above the shaft base, two scarabs, a number of complete vessels as well as some stones (pieces of architecture) were found. Three nicely decorated, complete Marl clay pilgrim flasks are especially noteworthy, found together with other pottery vessels (especially storage vessels) and one complete stone vessel.

Three almost complete Pilgrim flasks were found together against the east wall of the shaft.

Three almost complete Pilgrim flasks were found together against the east wall of the shaft.

Since these finds were clustering along the eastern wall of the shaft and in particular in the southeastern corner, the most likely explanation is that remains of a burial were removed from the chamber in the north and left in the shaft during one of the phases of reuse (or possibly plundering?).

Probably the most important finds so far are two sandstone fragments with the name and title of the jdnw of Kush Hornakht. This official of the Egyptian administration in Upper Nubia is already well attested from Sai Island and was active during the reign of Ramesses II. Several of the vessels from the shaft of tomb 26 are datable to the 19th Dynasty, suggesting that the inscribed pieces actually belonged to one of the burial phases. Of course everything has to wait until we checked also the burial chamber and understand the complete picture of tomb 26 and its complex use life, but for now it is possible to say that we found traces of early Ramesside burials in SAC 5. This is extremely exciting and opens much room for new thoughts about the importance of Sai during the Nineteenth Dynasty and its relation to the now flourishing site of Amara West.

Update of the research on the so-called temple towns in New Kingdom Nubia

In the last few months I was very busy with the review of the literature so far published  concerning especially the New Kingdom architectural remains which the Egyptians left on their way from north to south during the so-called conquest of Nubia and afterwards.

I commenced this task from a chronological point of view: with the “reoccupation” of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom fortresses between the First and Second Cataract. The common sense in Egyptological publications is that the Egyptians reused the Middle Kingdom fortresses such as e.g. Kuban, Ikkur, Aniba, Uronarti and Semna as staging posts at the beginning of the conquest and afterwards also as residential areas sometimes with the feature of an newly built Egyptian stone temple (säve-söderbergh 1941; Trigger 1976); Adams 1977; Bard 2007; Heidorn 1999). One point of the thesis is to clarify whether these fortress settlements played a role in the development of the temple towns as kind of ancestors or if the latter is a peculiar type of settlement specific for New Kingdom Nubia.

Studying relevant publications it became clear that the evidence of the so often mentioned reoccupation and renovation of the forts in the New Kingdom is rather hard to find. Also the meaning and usage of this obviously exchangeable description of reusing of the forts attracted my attention. It is not in any case clear if the authors really differentiate in general between undertaken renovation in the course of the reoccupation or the restoration of the defensive fortifications (e.g. Emery 1965; Trigger 1976; Adams 1977; Bard, 2007; Heidorn 1999). Of course it makes a difference concerning the nature of the settlement to speak of reoccupied or refortified settlements. Thus I searched intensively in the old excavation reports and publications for any hint of New Kingdom construction activity in the Middle Kingdom forts (like Emery & Kirwan 1935; Steindorff 1937; Randall-MacIver & Woolley 1911; Emery etal. 1979; Dunham & Janssen 1960; Dunham 1967). But unfortunately in most cases there is only little building activity or material post-dating the Middle Kingdom mentioned, because the main focus lies on the primary architecture and remains. Another issue in this respect is in general the dating of the late Middle Kingdom and/orSecond Intermediate Period material: it still remains unclear whether some of the fortresses have been still occupied during the Intermediate Period or not.

What I can say by now is that serious reconstruction and restoration of the fortifications only took place at Aniba and Buhen, where it is proofed by archaeological evidence. In contrast, because of absence of archaeological evidence, Semna seems not to have been refortified as always stated in the literature (Reisner 1929a; Säve-Söderbergh 1941; Adams 1977; Bard 2007; Heidorn), but indeed reoccupied, attested by the presence of a New Kingdom temple and cemetery (Reisner 1929b; Dunham & Janssen 1960). Another observation I made concerns the fortress of Askut near the Second Cataract. Excavation work was conducted there in the 1960ies by Badawy and the excavated material was reinvestigated by S. T. Smith in the 1990ies (Badawy 1964; Badawy 1968; Smith 1995; Smith 2003). They plausible ascertained a New Kingdom occupation phase at Askut, but still this fortress is often neglected in general studies concerning the New Kingdom occupation phase in Nubia (e.g. Emery 1965; Trigger 1976; Adams 1977; Bard, 2007; Heidorn).

Further and detailed studies are necessary to give an answer to the development-issue of the temple towns and to the dating-issue of the maybe continuously settled or indeed reoccupied fortresses. But the fresh evaluation and reconsideration of the literature shows by now some interesting first results.

Bibliographie

Adams, W. Y. 1977      Nubia. Corridor to Africa, London.

Badawy, A. 1964      Preliminary report on the excavations by the University of California at Askut, Kush 12, 47–56.

Badawy, A. M. 1968      A history of Egyptian Architecture. The Empire (the New Kingdom), Berkely.

Bard, K. A. 2007      An introduction to the archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Malden, Mass.

Dunham, D. 1967      Uronarti, Shalfak, Mirgissa: excavated by George Andrew Reisner and Noel F. Wheeler, Second cataract forts 2, Boston.

Dunham, D. & Janssen, J. J. 1960      Semna, Kumma, Second cataract forts 1, Boston.

Emery, W. B. 1965      Egypt in Nubia, London.

Emery, W. B. & Kirwan, L. P. 1935      The excavations and survey between Wadi es-Sebua and Adindan 1929 – 1931., Mission Archéologique de Nubie 1929 – 1934, Cairo.

Emery, W. B., Smith, H. S. & Millard, A. 1979      Excavations at Buhen. The archaeological report, Excavation memoir 49, London.

Heidorn, L. A. 1999      Nubian towns and temples, 579–583, in: Bard, K. A. & Shubert, S. B. (Hrsg.), Encyclopedia of the archaeology of ancient Egypt, London, New York.

Randall-MacIver, D. & Woolley, L. 1911      Buhen, Eckley B. Coxe Junior expedition to Nubia 7, Philadelphia.

Reisner, G. A. 1929a    Ancient Egyptian forts at Semna and Uronarti, Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts 27, 64–75.

Reisner, G. A. 1929b    Excavations at Semna and Uronarti, Sudan notes and records 12.

Säve-Söderbergh, T. 1941      Ägypten und Nubien: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte altägyptischer Aussenpolitik, Lund.

Smith, S. T. 1995      Askut in Nubia. The economics and ideology of Egyptian imperialism in the second millennium B.C, Studies in Egyptology, London, New York.

Smith, S. T. 2003      Wretched Kush. Ethnic identities and boundaries in Egypt’s Nubian empire, London, New York.

Steindorff, G. 1937      Aniba. Mission Archéologique de Nubie 1929 – 1934. 2, Glückstadt.

Trigger, B. 1976      Nubia under the pharaohs, Ancient peoples and places 85, London.

Ippolito Rosellini, Sudan and Pisa

Among the important and well-known early travellers and explorers of the Nile is the Italian Ippolito Rosellini – contemporary and friend of Jean-François Champollion and famous for his publication Monumenti dell’Egitto e della Nubia (published as 10 volumes in Florence, 1832-40). His Franco-Tuscan expedition is currently subject of one of the research projects at the University of Pisa. Back in June 2012, an international colloquium was held at Pisa and published in 2013: “Ippolito Rosellini, travellers and scholars of the 19th century in Egypt” highlighted different aspects of the importance of these early studies for modern Egyptology and our present research.

Rosellini was born in Pisa and got his professorship there – in fact he held the earliest chair in Egyptology (1826). I am very happy to be travelling to this beautiful city of Toscany tomorrow for a guest lecture. I will speak – great surprise – about Nubia in the New Kingdom – and this fits perfectly to the long tradition of the department currently headed by Marilena Betrò: The mission of the University of Pisa was working under the directorship of Michela Schiff Giorgini from 1957-1963 at Soleb – one of the most important Upper Nubian temple sites which we regularly visit during our field seasons at Sai Island.

The temple of Soleb in 2014 (photo: N. Mosiniak).

The temple of Soleb in 2014 (photo: N. Mosiniak).

The magnificent temple of Soleb never fails to amaze me – having visited it first in 2000, it’s always a pleasure to come back to this monument build by Amenhotep III and dedicated to Amun-Re of Karnak and to a local manifestation of the deified king as “Lord of Nubia”.

Amenhotep III and the deity "Nebmaatre, Lord of Nubia", relief at Soleb.

Amenhotep III and the deity “Nebmaatre, Lord of Nubia”, relief at Soleb.

Thanks to the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project there are currently plans for site management and a new visitor centre in the old excavation house of Michela Schiff Giorgini – a very positive development which will certainly contribute to an even higher appreciation of the place by the local communities, tourists and other visitors.

Some of the still standing columns of the peristyle court - closely resembling the ones of Amenhotep III at Luxor temple.

Some of the still standing columns of the peristyle court – closely resembling the ones of Amenhotep III at Luxor temple.

Soleb probably replaced Sai Island as administrative centre of Upper Nubia in the later 18th Dynasty – details are here still unclear, especially because the town area of Soleb has never been archaeologically investigated! Work always focused on the temple and the close-by necropolis.

From Soleb now to Pisa – 2014 is definitely full of intriguing travels connected with ancient Nubia!

 

Seti I at Sai Island?

During our 2014 field season on Sai Island, working in the New Kingdom town, we also devoted some time to re-organize the finds from the early French exploration of the town under Jean Vercoutter, now stored in the magazine of the French digging house. There are beautiful and important highlights among them complementing our recent findings at SAV1 East and SAV1 West.

It was a very nice coincidence that while I was just working on one particular puzzling piece we received a visit by the Amara West team directed by Neal Spencer (British Museum). I was keen on showing them this object as it seemed to have links to Amara West and the founder of this temple town, Seti I – and it came even better: they had just found something very similar during the current fieldwork!

Chiara Salvador wrote a very interesting post about the Amara object with several pictures.

The piece of mud with impressions of cartouche shaped stamps from SAF5.

The piece of mud with impressions of cartouche shaped stamps from SAF5.

The Sai object nicely compares to the one from Amara West – unfortunately both are fragmented and parts are missing, leaving some room for doubts and discussion. It is a piece of mud with an almost triangular section, two flat surfaces at the back and a front side showing impressions of large cartouche shaped stamps. According to the French digging diary it was found together with a second fragment on December 16 1973 in the Northwestern corner of a structure labelled SAF5 in the southern part of the Pharaonic town. Unfortunately further information about the find context is not available.

Overview of the general find spot of the mud fragment: SAF5 in the New Kingdom town.

Overview of the general find spot of the mud fragment: SAF5 in the New Kingdom town.

The building complex SAF5 is still not well understood – it obviously had several building phases and its present state is very fragmented, especially on the western side, having been largely flattened during Ottoman times. Vercoutter proposed a function as door sealing for the stamped piece and this seems indeed the most likely interpretation, corresponding to what our colleagues from Amara West assume for their pieces. It is definitely not a stamped mud brick, but a flattened piece of mud with several stamp impressions on one side, one above the other (only the lower edge of the cartouche is preserved of the upper stamp) and a peculiar, almost rectangular impression on one of the back sides.

Like at Amara, the impression on SAV002 has only survived in the upper part: The sun disk (Ra) is clearly readable as well as a seated goddess Maat, with a feather on her head, holding an ankh-sign in front of her. The lower part of the cartouche stamp is missing – excactly as for the Amara West piece, it could have been Maat-[ka]-ra (Hatshepsut), [Neb]-maat-Ra (Amenhotep III) or [Men]-maat-Ra (Seti I). Hatshepsut is not yet attested on Sai Island, leaving Amenhotep III and Seti I as the more likely candidates. Amenhotep III was very active on Sai, work continued in his name at the temple for Amun-Re (Temple A), attested by inscribed blocks and other evidence. Seti I is known to have founded Amara West as administrative center of Kush, possibly shifting activities from Sai towards the new neighbouring site. Two stelae refer to military activites of the king in Nubia – one from Amara West and the other was set up in Sai where it was discovered during the early French excavations (Vercoutter 1972; el-Saady 2011)! The Abri-Delgo reach with its rich mineral resources, especially gold, was for sure of interest to Seti. The Nauri decree mentiones an as yet unidentified fortress of the king of whom building activity is also attested at Sesebi (cf. el-Saady 2011: 436). As the Sai stela indicates, it is unlikely that the island was completly abandoned during the early 19th Dynasty. At present we do have little evidence for occupation– a small number of ceramics from the town and some objects from the cemeteries date to the early 19th Dynasty, most probably to the reigns of Seti I and Ramesses II.

The relation between Sai and Amara West in the early Ramesside period are essential open questions of our current research – connecting finds from old and new excavations at both sites has much potential and promises new insights in the upcoming years!

All in all, especially considering the exciting new finds at Amara West, I do think that reconstructing the mud impression on the piece from SAF5 as Men-Maat-Ra, thus Seti I, is the most probable solution. Further interpretation and contextualizing the royal stamp from SAF5 must await future work, both in the field and the magazine, and continuous cooperation with the team currently re-excavating the Ramesside center of Kush .

References:

el-Saady 2011 = Hassan el-Saady, Egypt in Nubia during the Reign of Seti I, in: Mark Collier/Steven Snape (eds.), Ramesside Studies in Honour of K.A. Kitchen, Bolton 2011, 433-437

Vercoutter 1972 = J. Vercoutter, Une camapagne militaire de Séti en Haute Nubie. Stèle de Saï S. 579, in: RdE 24, 1972, 201-208, pl. 17.

 

A fragmented stela from SAV1 West

One of the highlights of this season at SAV1 West is a small fragment of a private sandstone stela, SAV1W 590. Unfortunately it is without proper archaeological context being a surface find which Martin Fera discovered south of Square 1, more or less in line with the town enclosure.

Stele SAV1WjpgThis interesting piece (10.6 x 11.2 cm with a width of 3.4 cm), the upper part of a round-topped small stela, was decorated in raised relief of quite good quality. The lunette shows the common motif of a so-called shen-ring flanked by two udjat eyes. Below the right udjat eye, facing left, the presumed donor of the stela is represented: He is wearing a shoulder long wig and is offering a libation to persons facing him. Only the lotus flower held by the first seated person on the left is preserved – it was probably a female family member, maybe the mother of the donor.  However, in the 18th Dynasty the lotus as an attribute is also well attested for men. For example, a fragmented sandstone stela discovered in the elite New Kingdom cemetery at Sai shows a seated couple, with the man holding a lotus flower next to a woman embracing him (T16S21, see Minault-Gout/Thill 2012, Sai II, p. 162, p. 84).

All in all, the upper part of our sandstone stela displays a scene commonly associated with funerary stelae – a son, taking the role of a funerary priest, offering to family members, in most cases to his deceased parents. A nice complete example of this general theme is the round-topped limestone stela British Museum EA 280.

According to the stylistic features of hair and costume of the donor, I would suggest the mid 18th Dynasty as most likely date for the stela from SAV1 West. Closely similar are representations of persons on stelae originating from the reigns of Thutmose III and especially Amenhotep II – for example the stela of viceroy Usersatet offering to Thoth, now in the British Museum (EA 623).

Stele SAV1W590 detail

The anonymous donor of SAV1W 590

Regrettably, no text has survived on our piece identifying the offering person by name – we can safely assume that it was one of the officials working and living on Sai, and maybe even getting a tomb and burial here. What must remain open for now is whether the small stela from SAV1 West depicts an Egyptian official (born in Egypt and temporarly stationed in Nubia) or rather an “Egyptianized” family member of the elite indigenous clans who are known to have played an important role in Upper Nubia during the New Kingdom. The missing lower part of SAV1W 590 may have held some text and thus give additional information – maybe we will be lucky enough to relocate it next year!