Nubian household pottery on Elephantine and its potential

Having just returned from – despite the heat wave – a very pleasant stay in Luxor, I am currently working on the ceramic database of the material from Elephantine. As mentioned in earlier posts, the striking similarities between the early 18th Dynasty levels on Sai Island and Elephantine are currently of key priority for our research.

The upcoming season on Elephantine, scheduled for October-December 2015, will concentrate on freshly excavated material as well as on Nubian pottery from House 55. The latter are of high interest, especially for establishing links between Sai and the region of the First Cataract.

At present, 28 Nubian sherds from House 55 were documented in the database and by drawings and photos. Most of them are cooking pots of various types, but also storage vessel, drinking cups and fine ware are present. Black topped Kerma beakers appear in different qualities. The rim sherd 27606G/c-01 was made in a very fine Nubian fabric and compares well to fragments from the New Kingdom town of Sai and also Kerma itself.

Nubian storage vessel and Black Topped Kerma Beaker from House 55.

Nubian storage vessel and Black Topped Kerma Beaker from House 55.

Very interesting is a large storage vessel of a type well attested both in the Kerma cemeteries and in the Pharanic town on Sai. 27605N/b-03 illustrates the use of a heavily chaff-tempered, coarse Nubian fabric – a fabric attested for large Nubian cooking pots but most often for thick-walled storage vessels.

It will be of particular value to establish, once the excavation of House 55 is completed, the percentage of Nubian pottery within the whole ceramic corpus and the total number and distribution of the various household vessel types – comparing these data with building units on Sai might allow further thoughts about the coexistence of Nubians and Egyptians at the beginning of the New Kingdom.

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