Some impressions from the 13th International Conference for Nubian Studies

This year the International Conference for Nubian Studies, a quadrennial event of the International Society of Nubian Studies last held at London in 2010, took place at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland from 1st Monday to Saturday 6th of September 2014, organized by Matthieu Honegger. This big conference brings together scholars from all over the world – all those who are interested in the archaeology, history, art and cultural heritage of Nubia and Sudan.

Therefore Julia Budka, our Sudanese Antiquities Inspector of NCAM Huda Magzoub and I travelled from Vienna to Neuchâtel, looking much forward to see friends and colleagues and of course to hear the latest research news. For Huda and me it was the first time being in Switzerland and especially for me also the first attendance to such a large scientific event – over 270 people announced their participation.

View from our hotel illustrating the beauty of the conference's venue.

View from our hotel illustrating the beauty of the conference’s venue.

Distributed over five days, a total of 207 talks in six parallel sessions were scheduled! So you were simply spoilt for choice… Every day started with a main session in the morning dedicated to special topics in the course of history of Nubia (from Prehistory over the Egyptian Presence until the Medieval and Islamic periods). After a long break for lunch the parallel sessions followed in the afternoon. As far as I’m concerned I was mostly interested in the session held on Wednesday, which dealt with the end of Kerma and the Egyptian Presence, where the interesting key lectures were held by Neal Spencer (Egyptian settlements in Northern Sudan), Charles Bonnet (Dokki Gel), Stuart Tyson Smith (colonial entanglements) and Luc Gabolde (royal and divine power among Kushites and Egyptians). In the afternoon session I had to choose between 49 parallel talks (among them the paper by Julia Budka referring to current fieldwork on Sai Island) – not an easy task! Of course also the sessions about Prehistory and Kerma as well as about the Kushite Kingdoms and Medieval and Islamic periods were very worth attending. The end of the conference on Saturday formed the main session focusing on the practice of archaeology and its diffusion with lectures held by Jean-Paul Demoule (Archaeological research in XXIst century), Abdelrahman Ali Mohammed (Salvage Archaeology related to Dams in Sudan) and by Salah eldin Mohammed Ahmed (QSAP).

Apart from the scientific contributions there was some time for social activities and meetings, where we were fortunately very lucky with the weather. Especially noteworthy are the opening reception of the exhibition on Nubia at the Laténium Museum in Neuchâtel or the cocktail at the Palace Du Peyrou and finally the wonderful reception-cruise on the Lake of Neuchâtel.

IMG_20140905_190616 IMG_20140905_200807The last week was, due to the tough time schedule, indeed slightly exhausting, but nevertheless very interesting, highly informative, inspiring and a good chance to get in touch with other scholars and young researchers. I’m looking forward to the next International Conference for Nubian Studies in 2018, then in Paris.

Round Table at Lille – Know-how and technology in Ancient Sudan

Getting ready to leave for France this afternoon – I am very happy to be able to participate at a round table colloquium, organized by a team of young French researchers and held at Université Charles-de-Gaulle Lille 3 (HALMA-IPEL UMR 8164), the main cooperation partner of AcrossBorders, on September 5 and 6. Lille has an outstanding history in researching Ancient Sudan including archaeological fieldwork – Didier Devauchelle holds the concession for Sai Island and has supported our project from the very beginning.

The upcoming meeting (entitled Savoir-faire et techniques au Soudan ancient) promises presentations of young researchers (both doctoral students and Post-doc researchers) working in Ancient Sudan, covering an intriguing range of topics from Prehistory to Medieval times with a focus on materials and technology. The main sessions will be dedicated to architecture; faience, textiles and metallurgic processes; pottery and economic resources. One has to congratulate the colleagues to have managed assembling a group of distinguished chair persons: Charles Bonnet, Abdelrahman Ali Mohammed, Marie Millet, Claude Rilly and Vincent Rondot are all well known archaeologists in leading positions directing current projects in Sudan.

Looking forward meeting new and familiar faces and to fruitful discussions about Ancient Sudan! Without doubt there will be fresh input to my own research and for AcrossBorders. Last but not least I will be able to speak with current French collaborators working at Sai Island and maybe also with possible future ones of the young generation.