Culture Clash: Egypt in Nubia

Buhen039Using original material preserved in the EES Lucy Gura Archive this course will introduce participants to Egyptian archaeology in Nubia. Specifically, this course will encourage students to consider their own approach to archaeological data and the ways that this can influence views of ancient Egyptian history. The main themes discussed will include ‘imperialism’, ‘colonialism’, and ‘cultural identity’. Through a series of interactive sessions, involving documents and images of Buhen fortress excavated by Prof. W. B. Emery (pictured above) in the 1960s, attendees will discover the history of Egypt’s involvement in Nubia from the Middle Kingdom through to the end of the New Kingdom. Buhen, a site now submerged beneath the water of Lake Nasser and Lake Nubia, provides a perfect example of how our modern interpretation of a site can influence the way that ancient Egyptian imperialism will be studied in the future.

As the course is not accredited, no homework or extra reading will be compulsory. However, many of the sessions rely on personal experience and discovery which will drive class discussions – engagement and involvement will be key to unlocking your own ‘history’ of Egypt in Nubia.

Tutor: Carl Graves is a final-year PhD student at the University of Birmingham and Education and Public Engagement Manager for the Egypt Exploration Society. He completed his MPhil in 2010 focusing on the archaeology of Egyptian imperialism in Nubia during the Middle and New Kingdoms, which forms the background for this series of evening classes.

Course Outline

Buhen054Week One – Perceptions of Us/Them: A Course Outline

A time for us to explore our own cultural backgrounds and conditioning before looking at some evidence from ancient Nubia showing that this ascribing of identity is not a new idea.

Week Two – Identity Crsis: A First Glance at Buhen

Guest tutor, Sarah Wilkowski (University of Birmingham) will join us to discuss identities of self and other in the ancient Greek world. Can we apply these same approaches in Egyptology/Nubiology? Can we think of some visual metaphors for identities today and in the past?

Week Three – Buhen in Context: Egypt’s Early Encounters

The Old Kingdom discovery and exploitation of Nubia and the arrival of a prized pygmy in the palace of Pepi II.

Week Four – Interaction in Isolation: The Middle Kingdom at Buhen

A chance to interact with some of the Buhen archival images held in the EES Lucy Gura Archive. Ask questions of the sources – what do they tell us about life in a Middle Kingdom fortress?

Week Five – A Land Reclaimed: The Kingdom of Kush

The Second Intermediate Period represents a breakdown in central control in Egypt, but a blossoming of the kingdom of Kerma in Upper Nubia. What did this mean for the inhabitants of Buhen and the Second Cataract Forts? Who are the ‘squatters’ that Emery described at Buhen?

Week Six – Reconquest: 18th Dynasty Reclamation

An inscription of Kamose at Buhen and the early 18th Dynasty temple constructions throughout Lower Nubia. Have Egyptian attitudes to southern populations changed? Why? What was happening at sites such as Soleb and Sesebi in Upper Nubia – is this a new area to experiment with new ideas?

Week Seven – The New Kingdom: A New Kind of Colonialism?

‘Egyptianization’ in Nubia – fact or fiction? Why do ‘Nubians’ seem to largely disappear from the material record? Or do they?!

Week Eight – Intercultural Communications

Nineteenth Dynasty interactions in Nubia – a changing narrative of interconnection and reciprocal contact. A chance to see the EES Archive of Amara West material and to look at new ideas coming from the more recent excavations. 

Week Nine – A Lasting Legacy: Nubia after the New Kingdom

Guest tutor, Steven Gregory (Birmingham Egyptology) will join us to discuss ‘The Formation of the Napatan State’ as we explore what happened in Nubia between the Egyptian New Kingdom and the flooding of land beneath Lake Nasser.

Week Ten – Defining the Problem: Solved?

A chance to summarize the topics discussed over the last ten weeks. What does the Archive material tell us, as individuals, about Egypt’s involvement in Nubia between the Middle and New Kingdoms? How does this fit within the wider chronological and geographical context? 

Course Resources (reading lists, schedules and guides)

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