Banganarti, Selib and Soniyat (Sudan), 2015/2016

Banganarti, Selib & Soniyat

Dates of work: 9 November 2015–20 February 2016

Director: Prof. Bogdan Żurawski (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences; 2015, 2016)
NCAM representatives: Tamadur Ali Ebeid (2015), Abdel Raouf Jubara (2016)
Archaeologists: Dr. Mariusz Drzewiecki, field director at Soniyat (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences; 2015, 2016), Dr. Michał Dzik, trench superivisor at the North-East living quarter (Institute of Archaeology, University of Rzeszów; 2016), Robert Krzywdziński (Dantiscum; 2015), Agata Momot (Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre, University of Warsaw; 2015), Paweł Rurka (independent; 2016)
Archaeologist/iconologist: Dr. Magdalena Łaptaś (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw; 2016)
Archaeologist/photographer: Paulina Terendy (Dantiscum; 2015)
Ceramologist: Aneta Cedro (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences; 2015, 2016)
Anthropologist: Magdalena Bury (independent; 2015)
Conservator: Tadeusz Badowski (freelance; 2015)
Conservation assistants: Emilia Kujawska, Aleksandra Polańska (both freelance; 2015)
Arabist: Andrzej Leligdowicz (independent; 2015)
Topographer: Roman Łopaciuk (Geomatic; 2016)

The settlement remains surrounding the churches at the sites of Banganarti and Selib continued to be excavated in the 2015/2016 season by a team directed by Bogdan Żurawski. The research focused primarily on the living quarters around the churches and fortifications. An ethnographic survey carried out in Banganarti and Selib, and in the nearby villages documented traditional crafts, such as pottery making, basketry, baking and cooking using traditional techniques and recipes. Conservation and construction work were undertaken simultaneously with preparations for turning the Banganarti and Selib 1 sites into tourist attractions. Skeletal remains from earlier excavation were examined by a physical anthropologist. A survey combined with aerial documentation was carried out on selected archaeological sites in the Southern Dongola Reach (Soniyat, Diffar, Hettani, Bani Israil) and in the Third Cataract Region (Kissenfarki, Fagirinfenti). Short excavations were also conducted in the temple at Soniyat.

Two seasons of fieldwork in the northeastern part of Banganarti brought significant data on its stratification, as well as the architecture of medieval dwellings. Special attention was focused on the layout of the buildings and on vault usage. Evidence of strong water erosion in the early stages of the settlement is present.

The state of preservation of Banganarti’s unique medieval mud-brick fortifications and the deposits accumulated against them allows a study of the history of these defenses and their immediate surroundings. Trenches excavated in the northeastern corner of the fortifications in 2016 gave a full cross section, starting with the layers preceding the construction of the defenses, through two phases of the fortifications and ending with traces of secondary use of the ruins.

Archaeological fieldwork in the Kushite temple in Soniyat (Tergis 40) was conducted from 1997 to 2001 with an additional short season in 2013. A team supervised by Bogdan Żurawski returned to the site in 2016 to continue the excavation of the southern section of the complex. Remains of substantial mud-brick architecture were discovered together with large quantities of small finds (potsherds and objects made of metal, stone and faience) and faunal remains. A compact layer of Nile alluvial deposits, about 0.10 m thick, covering the remains represented evidence most probably of a flood. A single stone column was visible at that level. The spatial distribution of the discovered architectural features matches the temple orientation; they can be interpreted as the remains of a pylon with an entrance flanked by columns.

Text: Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 26/1


Bogdan Żurawski:bzurawski(at)