Nubian wares of House 55

This working week at Elephantine just flew by… I am back concentrating on another of my favorite topics within the intriguing House 55: the Nubian wares, comprising both fine wares and household wares, including drinking, serving and storage vessels as well as abundant cooking pots.

Most fascinating about the considerable assemblage of Nubian wares is besides the broad spectrum of forms and types that we find them in all levels of use of House 55 – thus, they are not restricted to the earliest phases from the 17th Dynasty and very early 18th Dynasty, but continue well into Thutmoside times. This also holds true for Kerma Black topped fine ware which is in particular of special importance – and of particular interest for us as we find good parallels in the New Kingdom town of Sai and AcrossBorders’ most recent works there.

My database currently holds 222 Nubian vessels from House 55 – 29 are Black topped fine wares, the well-known beakers, but also dishes, and small cups. Three more boxes full of Nubian sherds are still waiting to be documented, so these numbers will definitely increase in the next days. Detailed statistics and assessments of course have to wait until the very end, but the prospects are already really exciting!

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.