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Eastern Sudan in its Setting The archaeology of a region far from the Nile Valley by Andrea Manzo. viii+82 pages; illustrated throughout with 38 colour plates. Available both in print and Open Access. Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 94. ISBN 9781784915582. £25.00 (No VAT). Book contents pageBuy Now

Eastern Sudan, like other regions far away from the Nile valley, has often been overlooked historically on account of a kind of prejudice towards areas lacking in monumental or urban remains or evidence of any literary production. Despite the relevance of the deserts and marginal areas becoming increasingly evident in the last year or so, in Sudan only a few research projects have been conducted in these regions. The ongoing research project in Eastern Sudan by the University ‘L’Orientale’ has provided a preliminary reconstruction of the history of the region from c. 6000 BC to AD 1500. This publication outlines this reconstruction and also considers the more general setting known for the other regions of northeastern Africa. Several issues remain to be clarified and understanding of some phases is still limited, nevertheless it can be safely stated that Eastern Sudan, was in ancient times, as it is now, a crossroads between the Nile basin, Eastern Desert, the Ethio-Eritrean highlands and the Red Sea, represented a crucial region in several respects: the spread of domestic crops and animals towards the Ethio-Eritrean highlands, the spread of the Sahelian crops towards India via the Red Sea and Arabia, as well as the long-distance trade network characterizing northeastern Africa in the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC.

This book is also available to download in PDF format in our Open Access section.
Archival Theory, Chronology and Interpretation of Rock Art in the Western Cape, South Africa by Siyakha Mguni. vi+156 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. Available both in print and Open Access. Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 93. ISBN 9781784914462. £40.00 (No VAT). Book contents pageBuy Now

Since absolute dating of rock art is limited, relative chronologies remain useful in contextualising interpretations of ancient images. This book advocates the archival capacity of rock art and uses archival perspectives to analyse the chronology of paintings in order to formulate a framework for their historicised interpretations. The Western Cape painting sequence is customarily accepted to include the hunter-gatherer phase from c. 10,000 BP, pastoralism from c. 2,000 BP and finally the historical-cum-colonial period several centuries ago. Painting traditions with distinct depiction manners and content are conventionally linked to these broad periods. This study evaluates this schema in order to refine the diverse hunter-gatherer, herder and colonial era painting contexts and histories. Using superimpositions as one analytical tool, the notion of datum aided the referencing and correlation of layered imagery into a relative sequence. Although broad differences separate painting traditions, and these variations are generally indistinguishable within a single tradition, it is clear that the long-spanning hunter-gatherer segment of painting in this region reflects a hitherto unrecognised sub-tradition. Some painted themes such as elephants, fat-tailed sheep, handprints and possibly finger dots occur within various levels of the sequence, which this study views as shared graphic fragments occurring between and across traditions and sub-traditions. Through the archival concept of respect des fonds such observable complexities were clarified as coherent graphic narratives that run through the entire chronological sequence of the Western Cape rock paintings. Probing archaeological, ethnographic and historical sources revealed that while these themes remained fundamentally consistent throughout the stratigraphic sequence as preferred subject matter, their meanings might have transformed subliminally from earlier to later periods, possibly reflecting layered shifts in the socio-economic, cultural and political circumstances of the region. Fundamentally, the framework of image histories shown by the choice and sustenance of specific themes is understood to mean that their significance and specific graphic contexts throughout the chronological sequence are pivoted and mirrored through the long established hunter-gatherer rock paintings which predate periods of contact with other cultures. The resulting sequence and interpretation of these painted themes is a descriptive and organisational template reflecting the original organic character in the creation of the paintings and ordered cultural continuities in the use of animal/human symbolism. This book’s agenda in part involves reviewing the Western Cape’s changing social and historical landscape to show variation in painting over time and to project possible interpretative transformations. Painting sequences and cultural (dis)continuities are thus intricately entwined and can be disentangled through a recursive analytical relationship between archaeology, ethnography and history. This amalgamated analytical approach produces historicised narratives and contextual meanings for the rock paintings.

This book is also available to download in PDF format in our Open Access section.
Reinterpreting chronology and society at the mortuary complex of Jebel Moya (Sudan) by Michael Jonathan Brass. xii+192 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. Available both in print and Open Access. Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 92. ISBN 9781784914318. £40.00 (No VAT). Book contents pageBuy Now

Jebel Moya (south-central Sudan) is the largest known pastoral cemetery in sub- Saharan Africa with more than 3100 excavated human burials. This research revises our understanding of Jebel Moya and its context. After reviewing previous applications of social complexity theory to mortuary data, new questions are posed for the applicability of such theory to pastoral cemeteries. Reliable radiometric dating of Jebel Moya for the first time by luminescence dates is tied in to an attribute-based approach to discern three distinctive pottery assemblages. Three distinct phases of occupation are recognised: the first two (early fifth millennium BC, and the mid-second to early first millennium BC) from pottery sherds, and the third (first century BC - sixth century AD) with habitation and the vast majority of the mortuary remains. Analytically, new statistical and spatial analyses such as cross-pair correlation function and multi-dimensional scaling provide information on zones of interaction across the mortuary assemblages. Finally, an analysis of mortuary locales contemporary with phase three (Meroitic and post-Meroitic periods) from the central Sudan and Upper and Lower Nubia are examined to show how changing social, economic and power relations were conceptualised, and to highlight Jebel Moya’s potential to serve as a chronological and cultural reference point for future studies in south-central and southern Sudan.

This book is also available to download in PDF format in our Open Access section.

Access Archaeology: Our newest imprint is designed to make archaeological research accessible to all and to present a low-cost (or no-cost) publishing solution for academics from all over the world. Material will range from theses, conference proceedings, catalogues of archaeological material, excavation reports and beyond. We will provide type-setting guidance and templates for authors to prepare material themselves designed to be made available for free online via our Open Access platform and to supply in-print to libraries and academics worldwide at a reasonable price point. Click here to learn more about publishing in Access Archaeology.

Le qṣar, type d’implantation humaine au Sahara: architecture du Sud Algérien by Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya. xiv+340 pages; illustrated throughout in black & white with 12 colour plates. French text with English abstract. 245 2016 Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 91. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784913472. £50.00 (No VAT). Epublication ISBN 9781784913489. £19.00 (Inc. UK VAT) Book contents pageBuy Now

The qṣar corresponds to a type of human settlement widely distributed in the Sahara desert, including many examples located today in southern Morocco, southern Algeria, southern Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania and Mali. This architectural model is characterised by its use over a wide-ranging time span – probably since the early first millennium BC according to ancient structures recorded by the archaeologist Mattingly in the Libyan Fazzān.

This volume, through the systematic analysis and comparison of some qṣūr of southeastern Algeria (Rīġ, Mzāb, Miya and al-Manī‘a), reveals common architectural features that can be used to identify a common type of qṣar in this region. The analysis of the construction material shows the primary use of limestone with a local mortar (timchent) and date palm trunks (phoenix dactylifera) for the structural elements (ceilings, doors, arcs, domes). Adobe bricks (ṭūb) are used in the housing and the defence systems punctuated by towers and pierced doors.

Despite a discontinuity within the historical narrative, the establishment of populations in this area of the Sahara appears to be much earlier than the medieval period and the qṣar is certainly not a creation ex nihilo of the modern era. Because of their numerous modifications and extensions over several centuries, the qṣūr problematise the dating of such settlements. However, the comparison of its main components encourages the development of a typology to identify some common characteristics that would help position the qṣar among the urban planning of the dār al-islām.
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