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Applying a Multi- Analytical Approach to the Investigation of Ancient Egyptian Influence in Nubian Communities: The Socio- Cultural Implications of Chemical Variation in Ceramic Styles

Julia Carrano, Stuart T. Smith, George Herbst, Gary H. Girty, Carl J. Carrano, Jeffrey R. Ferguson


This article reviews published archaeological research that explores the potential of combined chemical and petrographic analyses to distinguish manufacturing methods of ceramics made From Nile river silt. The methodology was initially applied to distinguish the production methods of Egyptian and Nubian- style vessels found in New Kingdom and Napatan Period Egyptian colonial centers in Upper Nubia. Conducted in the context of ongoing excavations and surveys at the third cataract, ceramic characterization can be used to explore the dynamic role pottery production may have played in Egyptian efforts to integrate with or alter native Nubian culture. Results reveal that, despite overall similar geochemistry, x-ray fluorescence (XRF), instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA), and petrography can distinguishEgyptian and Nubian- style ceramic traditions based on the relative degree of compositional homogeneity and subtle differences in paste recipes. This in turn indicates that cultural differences in craft production were sustained over time within the ethnically mixed communities of Upper Nubia. Based on these positive results, the methodology shows potential for addressing additional research questions inthe Nile Valley, and a current research plan by the authors applies these same techniques to an evaluation of the role of ceramic craft centralizationin the rise of the native Nubian Kerma state.


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