Settlement patterns in Egypt and Nubia in the 2nd Millennium BC are the main fields of research of the ERC project AcrossBorders. Situated across ancient and modern borders and of diverse environmental and cultural preconditions, but with a long history of changing interactions and influences, the study of variations in the local urban patterns is important. The architecture and structure of the 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. The settlements in Nubia have rich potential not only because of their excellent state of preservation, but especially because Egyptian culture abroad was confronted with a local Nubian tradition. Current topics like integration and acculturation can be tackled with this ancient example – how did the local Nubians react to foreign influences and how did the Egyptians present themselves outside of Egypt?
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, and AcrossBorders is carried out with both the kind approval of the concession holder Prof. Didier Devauchelle 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.

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