PCMA scholar’s seminar: Population diversity in Soba

The latest seminar at the PCMA UW Research Centre in Cairo will feature research by PCMA scholarship holder Joanna Ciesielska. She will present on the subject of “Preliminary investigation of population diversity in the capital of the medieval kingdom of Alwa“.

Abstract: In the sixth century CE Nubia, approximately the territory of modern Sudan, was divided into three kingdoms: Nobadia, Makuria and Alwa. Soba, the capital of the southernmost kingdom of Alwa was located at the heart of modern Sudan, at the confluence of the White and Blue Niles. Situated at a crossroads of the major routes connecting Ethiopia and the Red Sea, Kordofan and Darfur tribes, Eastern desert peoples, and the entire extent of the Nile valley, the city was probably a mosaic of cultures and ethnicities. According to Arab travellers, who visited the city over the thousand years of its existence, Soba was a vibrant, truly cosmopolitan city with envoys of major political powers finding their way across the inhospitable desert areas of northern Sudan to visit the kings of Alwa.

During archaeological fieldwork in Soba in 2019/2020 excavation season, 23 burials were uncovered at mound OS in the northern part of the site. Uncovered funerary features showed an unusual diversity in the manner of burial. A variety of burial practices may suggest that the deceased might have come from different backgrounds, representing various cultures, ethnic and religious groups. Preliminary analysis of observed diversity in the context of previous archaeological research conducted at Soba, as well as various written sources, suggests growing cultural diversity towards the tenth-eleventh centuries AD. Bioarchaeological research conducted so far constitutes the first phase of a large-scale investigation of population diversity in the medieval kingdom of Alwa.

The seminar will be held on Tuesday, 17th April 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will not be open to the public.

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