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Kadruka in the Wadi el-Khowi: Neolithic necropolis


Friday 23 September 2011, by SFDAS

Directed by Jacques Reinold.

Team : Yves Lecointe, Jean Bialais, Gilles Zarkfaoui.

The Wadi el-Khowi, made of former branches or courses of the Nile, lies on the East bank of the river, South of the third Cataract. It includes a great number of funerary sites and settlements. Those belonging to the Neolithic hold an important place. Wind erosion has considerably abraded the settlement sites which can now only be distinguished by material spread over the ground. The cemeteries however have resisted, since they are located on small hills. Their excavation is a privileged way to understand societies living in the region between the sixth and fourth millennium BC.

The rescue operations led by the SFDAS – agricultural development programs have indeed had a great impact on the region over the past years – have identified about fifty Neolithic sites whether cemeteries or settlements. Among the twenty known cemeteries, six have been fully or partially excavated by the SFDAS. Two funeral mounds must have contained over a thousand tombs, whereas some smaller ones contain over a hundred inhumations. About 700 graves, approximately dating between 4800 and 4000 BC, were registered. The material culture and funerary customs observed seem to reflect both the homogeneity of these populations as well as a quick evolution of their social fabric. These cemetery layouts show an organization in which hierarchy becomes stronger and stronger. During the Neolithic, chiefdoms appeared with the emergence of a dominating figure. These societies were the basis of the first Protohistoric states, thus announcing the appearance of the first kingdoms.

Female figurine. Nubian sandstone.
Height 19,6 cm, width. 5,8 cm, thick. 4,2 cm.
Kadruka. Neolithic (first half of the 5th millenium BC).
© J. Reinold et alii, Archéologie au Soudan, éditions Errance, Paris 2000., http://www.sfdas.com/medias/img/kadrouka_s.jpg

Bibliography :

J. Reinold, “El Neolitico en Sudan”, in Nubia, Los reinos del Nilo en Sudan, catalogue of the exhibition in Barcelona and Madrid, Fundacion « La Caixa », 2003, p. 28-34 .
J. Reinold, Archéologie au Soudan. Les civilisations de la Nubie, Éditions Errance, Paris, 2000.
J. Reinold, “Le Néolithique de Haute Nubie. Traditions funéraires et dtructures socials”, Bulletin de la Société française d’égyptologie n° 143, Paris, 1998, p. 19-40.
J. Reinold, “El-Kadada et Kadruka”, in Nubie. Les cultures antiques du Soudan (B. Gratien et F. Le Saout éd.), Lille, 1994, p. 51-66 et 70-86.
J. Reinold, “Néolithique soudanais : les coutumes funéraires”, in Egypt and Africa. Nubia from Prehistory to Islam (W.V. Davies éd.), Londres, 1991, p. 16-29.