The Late Prehistoric Monuments in Sudan

Mon, 16 Apr 2018



This paper provides an illustrative account of the monuments of the late prehistoric period in Sudan to complement what was described in the first paper on the monuments of the prehistoric period in Sudan. This paper explains the nature of the monuments of the Middle Stone Age, the Neolithic period and beyond, and before the advent of the Bronze Age, as the stages that represent the late periods of prehistory in Sudan.

Middle Stone Age

The Neolithic Era

Economic and Cultural Developments during the Neolithic Age

Settlement during the Neolithic period

Subsequent developments in the prehistoric period





Middle Stone Age

1. Archaeological Research on the Middle Stone Age in Sudan:

Medieval stone cultures in Africa have spread widely and reflected a different adaptation from Europe. Africa has major environmental zones:

. North Africa coast. 2. The desert. 3. The tropical rain forests. The South African plains.

Between the rainforests and the desert there are a series of environmental belts ranging from savannah to thistle grass. While east and South Africa are characterized by plains and forests. As well as multiple rivers and lakes. With this biodiversity, the monuments of the Middle Stone Age were also varied. There are many elements that have emerged as key features of this period. These features can be summarized as follows:

1. The development of hunting and gathering of food and the spread of sea, rivers, and land oysters collecting, fishing and deer and river environment animals hunting.

2. The development of the technique of precision tools, which appeared in large parts of North Africa and along the Nile River, Horn of Africa and Kenya, indicating strong cultural relations during that period.

3. The spread of vegetarian food was evident through the use of milling tools, which dates back more than 14 thousand years ago. But the strange thing is that the use of grinding tools did not lead directly to agriculture, which is believed to have entered the Nile from Southwest Asia.

4. An important tradition that has spread in parts of East Africa, Congo and Sudan is the spread of fishing using teeth or bony harpoons.

5. The appearance of pottery in large parts of the Nile, Greater Sahara, East and West Africa before its appearance in Europe. The culture of ancient Khartoum is one of the oldest cultures that used pottery.

In 1944, during the construction work of the current Khartoum hospital, Anthony John Arkell discovered one of the oldest pottery sites in the Middle Nile Valley region, which was dubbed "Early or Old Khartoum" or "Middle Stone Age Khartoum" and " Corrugated pottery culture" which was then considered an unprecedented discovery of the use of fishermen and collectors of pottery in a site that was settled for a period of 2000 to 3000 years, especially since pottery was not known during the Middle Stone Age in other parts of the world and was considered a major characteristic of the cultures of the later Neolithic period (Figure No. 1).

The site of the Khartoum Hospital and similar sites are about 7000 BC, according to a large number of carbon history from the sites of Al-Jaili region ranging from 7750 ± 90 years ago to 6150 ± 80 years ago (about 6650-5000 BC) that are similar to other sites especially in northern Blue Nile. The only site whose dates do not coincide with these dates is the Sarorab site located on the West Bank, north of Omdurman, dating back to 9370 ± 110 years ago. There are other sites near the Atbara river and the Nile confluence dating back to about 8000 years ago (7000 BC). Similar dates have also been obtained at some sites of the White Nile in Tagra', Gali, and Shabouna.

While these early dates require further confirmation, they are clearly in stark contrast to other dates obtained in many other locations along the African coast. However, pottery seems to have emerged along the region by the tenth millennium BC and perhaps somewhere between the mountains of the Ahqar and the Nile Valley.

The traces of the Middle Stone Age population were found in most of the central Nile regions, with special emphasis on settlement in areas with permanent water sources. These include river areas along the Nile, as well as around other major waterways and lakes to the west and east. The evidence indicates a near-permanent settlement in these sites, which was confirmed earlier in the Khartoum Hospital excavations. The evidence shows a remarkable distribution of pottery decorated with corrugated lines as well as serrated bone-harpoons in many areas covered by the archaeological survey during the 20th century in the areas of the White Nile, Hawar Valley,  Al-Jazeera, and others. Other areas have remained marginal in this archaeological research and did not register many sites, especially in Kordofan, Darfur and the southern regions of the current Sudan. While in areas where intensive research has been conducted, such as the Khartoum area, there are many sites where more than 22 sites have been registered in the Jaili area alone. Numerous locations were also recorded along the Soba Valley, as well as in Al-Butana around Shag Ad-Dood area. And on the banks of the White Nile between Khartoum and JabalAolia, and north and south of Al-Jazeera, and east in Kassala and Khashm Al-Girba and north around Atbara and Ad-Damar. Some sites were also recorded in the north during archaeological surveys in the Meroe Dam area, as well as in several desert valleys such as Wadi al-Alaqi, Wadi Al-Mogaddam and Bayouda desert. In addition to that, archaeological surveys on the Dongola region, the third waterfall region and the lower Nubia revealed some important evidence of human existence during the Middle Stone Age (Map 1).

The most important technical features of the Middle Stone Age sites are the decorated pottery (with corrugated lines and intermittent corrugated lines), bone spears, precision tools, and grinding tools. Cemeteries are usually found in small groups within residential sites. The early appearance of pottery is a unique feature, but it is not an isolated phenomenon, it has spread to a very wide area of sub-Saharan Africa. Initially, Arkell saw that there were two types of decoration, separated by almost a thousand years. The oldest is the decoration of corrugated lines, which dates according to the latest finds, to about 7,000 BC. In Arkell's opinion, the pottery of the Khartoum Hospital is not necessarily the real beginning of the pottery industry. "The inclusion of the ancient culture of Khartoum of pottery is very important if we consider this culture to be among the Middle Stone Age cultures, especially that pottery has appeared also -although rarely- in Europe" he says.

In addition, the sites of the Middle Stone Age were characterized by many other technical features, including barbed bone harpoons, which were found on two types, one of which is a blade of large size bone with thorns side and has a base with a knot that can be linked to a long fishing stick . The second was a small blade with multiple thorns. Arkell thinks that the latter type may have been used with the arch, although there is no direct evidence. This view is demonstrated by the large quantities of crescent-shaped tools that are made of quartz believed to have been used as arrowheads. Other tools indicates great interest in fishing which are the stone sinkers, a stone block whose middle sides are carved so that they can be used as sinkers for fishing nets and hooks. But Arkell did not find any hooks despite other signs of fishing (Figure 1).

Fishing was not the only economic activity during the Middle Stone Age. Arkell and other researchers found numerous evidence of a clear evolution in the processing and grinding of wild grains using grinding tools, despite Arkell's incorrect early assumptions that such tools were used to grind the ocher, which are used for coloring pottery and other. Later, in his 1975 book "The Prehistory of the Nile valley" 1975, Arkell concluded that early Khartoum residents also used these tools to grind wild grains. He says that with the high rainfall rate, food resources were available on site, making grain cultivation unnecessary for the limited population.

On the other hand, archaeological evidence indicated a clear development of housing construction techniques, although this was not thoroughly studied in later archaeological research except in rare cases. Arkell had found traces of ropes on blocks of clay walls that were built with wood and covered with mud. This indicates that the population was skilled in the twining of the fibers and converting them into ropes so that they could be used to tie wood in houses or manufacture nets or bows and or hooks. The house is made up of a group of reeds or tree branches bound together by ropes and covered with mud. This type of barns was located in Sudan and is still manufactured by some Nile tribes today. Arkell had found several tombs under or near these houses. The tomb is a simple pits where the deceased is placed in a squat, with no strong evidence of any sacrifices or funeral furniture. He noted that most of the upper incisors had been removed from skulls and in this they resemble some of the southern Nile tribes who remove the lower incisors.

As a conclusion, we can say that continuous archaeological research has enabled researchers to learn more about early Holocene cultures in Sudan and to recognize the cultural disparities between and within regions where archeological sites and material culture remains were scattered, as well as how they have changed over time. Early on, Arkell distinguished the subsequent developments of the Middle Stone Age through his excavations at the Gouz site in the eastern bank of the White Nile and referred to a "class hierarchy" between the Neolithic pottery and the Middle Stone Age and the distinct difference between them in what was later known as the pottery decorated with corrugated dots (Dotted Wavy Line Pottery). Despite the controversy, it is now possible to distinguish between "early" and "late" clusters of the Middle Stone Age, not only through pottery but also in the use of various raw materials for stone tools and the variety of tools. Some of these changes can be seen as evolutionary pathways towards the Neolithic period, which will be discussed below. As such, they are important in understanding the potential relationship between hunters and gatherers on the one hand and early pastoralists during the Neolithic period on the other.

However, detailed archaeological research is still needed to understand the settlement of the Middle Stone Age population in Sudan, particularly with regard to the duration of settlement in specific locations, the extent of cultural diversity and others. Pottery "use" evidence require further study as well. For example, has this led to the organization of communities, possibly on the basis of gender? There is also little research on the different types of human adaptations in specific areas other than the Nile regions, and the areas on the Red Sea. Many areas are still not studied to know the geographical extension during this period, especially in the wet southern savannah and western Sudan Mountains. All these questions remain as objectives of the current archaeological research and in the subsequent years.

The Neolithic Era:

Thanks to the Arkell studies, Central Sudan became the heart of prehistoric studies (map 1-2). Since his excavations at Khartoum old Sites (Khartoum Hospital) and Shaheenab, interest has increased in the sites of the Middle Stone age and the Neolithic period. These Arkell excavations have contributed to the overall prehistoric framework in Sudan. In his studies, Arkell proved that there is a great connection between the Middle and Neolithic Stone Age in central Sudan, especially with regard to the technical characteristics which can be summed up in the following (Figs. 1 and 2):

1. The stone tool known as the Gouge, a tool similar to the ax or chisel, was considered by Arkell the "symbol" of the Neolithic sites in the Khartoum area, the site of the Shaheenab and its remains were even called the Gouge Culture. Arkell believes that this tool was used mainly in the manufacture of boats through digging logs

2. Bifacial Celt which is a new technique of cutting stone tools. And there is a similar tool (Bone Celt) is believed to have been used in the cutting of large animals.

3. There is continuity in the use of some tools. Including the Great Spear (Badiga), which differs from the bone harpoon in the Middle Stone Age, where the new type is characterized by a hole near the base, in addition to the use of lunates, scrapers, borers, and grinding tools.

4. Pottery continued to be a clear technical feature in the Neolithic period, but it differs from the ancient Khartoum pottery in that it is always polished and contains many decorations, especially the decoration of the dots.

5. For the first time hooks made from shells were introduced during the Neolithic period and are indicative of continued fishing.

6. In the area of personal adornment, shells and amazonite -a type of stone believed to have been obtained from the region of Tebesti- were used in the manufacture of beads, and there is a pin-like decoration made of zeolite, which is believed to have been used as lip-plugs.

7. Among the important inventions of the Neolithic period that did not appear in the site of the Shaheenab were the polished stone paintings (Polished Palettes) and were used in the grinding of colors and some evidence were found in the sites of Kadada and al-Kadro, in addition to the work of pottery statues, and the diversity of raw material in the manufacture of personal jewelry using the shells of ostrich eggs, quartzite, and red agate.

The previous technical features generally characterize the Neolithic sites in central Sudan, but they do not necessarily exist in every location, especially the tracks, which are not found in a number of Nile, Botana, and Shendi sites.

A new phase of archeological research has begun, especially in the field of prehistoric studies, to change the course of archaeological research to the central region of Sudan, which is at risk of agricultural and industrial projects and destructive natural factors of archaeological sites. It was also part of the overall progress of attention to central Sudan after the end of the Comprehensive Rescue Program between the first and second waterfall. As a result of the numerous excavations carried out during the recent Nubian monuments salvage expedition, the Neolithic era was further identified in lower Nubia, although it has received little attention compared to central Sudan. This may be due to the speed with which the excavations were carried out or the absence of specific and reliable features to define the Neolithic period where pottery remains the main indicator for determining the period there. Thus, the large number of sites were divided into groups according to the distinctive patterns of pottery, or to industries within a number of ages that marked the period of the stone ages in the lower Nubia. What concerns us here is the so-called Nubian pottery era, which was divided into two industries or two cultures: Abka culture and Khartoum culture, preceded by what was called the last Nubian Stone Age, which was divided into five industries, most notably Abdul Qader "Qadan” and Shmarkian, and they represent the direct predecessor of the Neolithic industries (Abka- Khartoum type), especially in the presence of pottery.

Some missions went south in search of solutions to issues raised by their work in the rescue of the monuments of the Nuba area, including the US Joint Mission, which was divided into two teams, one worked in the area of Korti and the other in Khashm Al-Girba. In both of them, the sites of some of them contained the ancient pottery of Khartoum. The University of Colorado's mission to the south also revealed a location in the Morshid area.

After about 20 years of the Arkell excavations in the Shaheenab, the sites of the Middle Stone Age and the Neolithic age of Sudan have received surveys and excavations, some of which continue to this day, including the excavations of the Polish mission led by Krzyzanyak at the site of Al-Kadro, the excavations of the Italian mission led by Salvador Polgizi proceeded by Izabella Caneva in Al-Jaili to the north of Khartoum, and the excavations of the University of Khartoum in the West Bank of the Nile River north of Omdurman in the sites of Nufalab and the island of Eslang and Um Merhy and others and in Al-Bajarawya area, as well as the excavations of the Norwegian mission in White Nile and Khartoum in the sites of Al-Kadaro and Az-Zakyab and Al-Shaheenab, Om Dherawah and others. (Fig. 4), and the excavations of the Sudanese-American Joint Mission in Al-Botana, and the excavations carried out by the Spanish Mission in the area of Al-Haj Youssef and the surrounding areas east of the Blue Nile, and the excavations of the Italian Mission In Al-Salha, and the University of Khartoum excavations in Al-Mosawarat near Al-Bajarawya. (See figure 5) in addition to other excavations and surveys by individuals or archaeological missions.

Although there is a large similarity in the pottery and the similarity between the stone tools between Khartoum type and the central Sudan sites, this culture -Khartoum type- lacks many tools distinctive of the Neolithic age in the middle such as the amazon beads, mace heads, and the bone chisel and hooks which are made from shells. This difference can only be explained if it was related to the environment or the time period. Most of the Neolithic sites known to belong to Khartoum culture are small and non-permanent camps where no traces of buildings were found, except for a mud roof and a simple fireplace in one of the sites. The absence of cemeteries refers to a mobile settlement system. In general, most of the Neolithic remains in lower Nubia -as reflected by Khartoum culture- refer to a simpler and harsher life in central Sudan.

With regard to the origin and general characteristics of this culture, Scheiner considered it a new group that moved to the Nile with a tradition of stone tools and pottery, despite the fact that this culture and its sites are linked to the sites of ancient Khartoum and Al-Shaheenab. However, Scheiner did not specify the extent and nature of this relationship (see Arkell's commentary on the same topic in previous pages).

Due to the absence of many of the characteristics of central Sudan in Khartoum culture, Nordstrom, who worked for a limited period with the Scandinavian mission, suggested that Khartoum culture should not be compared to the Neolithic period in Khartoum, but rather to the period of pottery decorated with wavy dots represented by the Al-Guoz site in Khartoum. In addition, Nordstorm proposed two dates for the Khartoum type based on carbon dates from other sites, 5500-6500 BC. These two dates, in addition to the history of the site (Diws - Debeira West 5) in the West Bank of the Northwest Nile and WadiHalfa, which is 6054 ± 110 years ago, indicate that this culture is older than the Neolithic sites in central Sudan and is even closer to the sites of the Middle Stone Age and the period of the pottery tradition decorated with the wavy dots which comes later after the wavy pottery in the old Khartoum. In our view, Nordstorm's assumption is a more realistic assumption, especially if we consider the weakness of the material culture of the Khartoum type.

Another culture that was rediscovered during the High Dam campaign is the so-called Abka culture, which dates back to 1947 when Oliver H. Myers -a professor of ancient history at Gordon College "now the University of Khartoum" - made his first Neolithic excavations in lower Nubia, His main aim was to find sites mainly associated with the rock drawings he discovered in order to date these drawings and described their owners without neglecting the study of the natural environment. Meyers discovered 59 different sites, of which only three were prehistoric. The origin of the label "Abka Culture" belongs to the Combined Prehistoric Expedition, which discovered some of the remnants of this culture during the High Dam Campaign, prompting its members to re-examine the layers described by Meyers. And indeed, Schneider corresponded the fifth and fourth layers in the site IX with what he later called the culture of Abka. And between 1961 and 1966, the mission discovered more than 100 prehistoric sites in the area between Inaiba and the second waterfall, where sites were attributed to Abka culture. Schneider published it and concluded that this culture was considered a direct predecessors of Group (A), and that's when he observed some similarities in the pottery between the two cultures. According to that, Windorf believes that the culture of Abka has been mixed with local traditions that cannot be compared to any other remains outside lower Nubia, but has not rejected the possibility of cultural communication between Abka and Group (A). Windorf then divided the culture into two periods: Early Abkan, and Developed Abkan after an improved study of pottery, stone tools and more, and as a result of the discovery of residues that are closely related to this culture in other areas of lower Nubia in the region of Abka, another label emerged for the culture of Abka, Terminal Abkan, after the pottery study showed northern influences in specific types dating back to a later period of this culture (map number 2).

The "post-Shamarka" civilization, which was discovered by the Polish Mission and which bears the stone technical characteristics of Shamarka, the study of pottery that resulted from it has proved that it's identical to what the Joint American Mission called the "Khartoum Variant" which considers that Shamarka is the predecessor of the Khartoum Variant civilization.

Thanks to surveys conducted in recent years, some settlement sites and cemeteries were identified in the third waterfall area between Tembis and Dalgo in the framework of the Archaeological and Heritage Survey Project of the Mohas Area, which was carried out by the Department of Archeology of the University of Khartoum and the British Institute of East Africa since the beginning of the 1990s. All the results of the project, including the prehistoric period, have been published in the 2012 volume. Although few Neolithic sites have been discovered, surveys and some short-term fossils have demonstrated a settlement extending from the 6th millennium BC until the end of the fourth millennium BC. (See map 2).

A new settlement of the Neolithic period was discovered south of the third waterfall. Where since 1986, many sites dating to the Neolithic period have been discovered in Kadarka and WadiAl-Khawa (Al-Khawa Valley), which runs towards the Nile from the eastern bank opposite to Al-Khandaq and until Dongola. The excavations focused on a land length of about 50 km along the Wadi Al-Khawa (Kadarka region) where it was possible to identify all the components of the Neolithic culture, such as animals, pottery production and the technique of polished stone tools since the second half of the fifth millennium BC. And in spite the difficulty in studying all these sites in the area mentioned as a result of agricultural activity and the remoteness of some of them in the outskirts of the desert near the mountains. The French unite that's working in that region, led by Jacques Reynold, managed to shed light on many of the prehistoric features of the third waterfall region. Numerous fossils have revealed the presence of some traces of sites from the Middle Stone Age, some of which are similar to those of the ancient pottery in Khartoum in the middle of Sudan. While the Neolithic period appears in the form of the pottery, stone tools, fire places and many domestic animals bones. In addition, there are more than thirty cemeteries in the Kdarka area, through which the burial habits can be traced from the sixth millennium to the fourth millennium BC, and the number of graves in these cemeteries exceeds one thousand grave. The remnants of these sites proved the existence of a social system at that early time, where it is believed that there are leaders at the heads of the tribes in that region since the fifth millennium BC. Which is important for that early period, and in spite of that it is no coincidence, however, that this development will occur precisely in this region, because during the third millennium, the first major sub-Saharan African kingdom, the Kingdom of Karma, will be born in the south of the third waterfall. These burial evidence were supported by other excavations near Karma in a cemetery called R12, which was completely excavated and published in a comprehensive volume.

The discovery of the excavated sites in northern Dongola province has raised a number of issues related to the post-Neolithic cultures that were best known in the north, particularly the so-called group A and some of the sites of the culture of Abka. During the first half of the fourth millennium BC, the final Abka had the remnants of the early period of Group A in the north and the so-called Late Neolithic and the early Pre-Kerma in the third waterfall and Dongola in the south. This (regional) cultural development is likely to be seen as a local manifestation of the subsequent development in the Neolithic and Pre-Kerma periods, whose effects were found in the south. The sites of the Late Neolithic age in Batn Al-Hajar can also be added within this cultural tradition. And the reports of south of Batn Al-Hajar Surveys and in Karma (R12) indicated that there are some archaeological remains that can be compared to Abka.

South of the former region, the Methodist University mission at the end of the 1960s carried out an archaeological survey in the area between the King Valley and Korti on the southwestern bank of the Nile (see map 2). The main purpose of this survey was to try to find a cultural link between prehistoric sites in the south (i.e. central Sudan) and these northern sites. The survey revealed a number of pottery sites and was classified into four groups, namely the Old Khartoum Group, Kard Group, Targees Group and the King Group. However, the work of this mission did not help much in understanding the Neolithic period in the Dongola region, especially with regard to the history of these groups and their economic and social activities, because the work did not exceed one season and was interrupted by the Arab-Israeli war and the severance of relations with America. However, we can say that the two groups of ancient Khartoum and Kard are particularly important in understanding the nature of the spread of pottery along the Nile. Both groups contain pottery that can be compared with pottery found in central Sudan and north of the second waterfall (Khartoum-Abka variant). However, the presence of pottery similar to the old Khartoum and the Shaheenab does not confirm the existence of human movements as it indicates the spread of designs and techniques of decoration extensively along the Nile through the spread of local groups. A mission from the University of California north of this area also worked between the Hanak and Al-Khandaq. Subsequent work near Ganatti revealed some settlement sites and cemeteries different from what is known in central and northern Sudan.

As for the Neolithic period in the area of the fourth waterfall, the results of research are still being published. However, there are many prehistoric sites revealed during the campaign to save the Meroe dam monuments in this area, mostly small settlements and a few tombs. Other sites were also discovered in three resettlement areas in the vicinity of the fourth waterfall, at the above-mentioned Al-Moltaga, the new Amri, and the Mokabrab valley. Sporadic locations were also recorded in Al-Kadaro, Karbakan-Amri region, and others.

Despite these numerous discoveries in the area extending from Karma to the fourth waterfall, it is still too early to establish a specific chronology of the Neolithic although the dates of the sites of Al-MoltagaKadarka, and the location of the R12 site may seem at least sufficient to place that sequence in the area extending from Dongola to Karma, which refers to a time frame extending from the second half of the fifth millennium BC until the fourth millennium BC.

In the western part of Sudan, archeological work about the Stone Age started late. However, thanks to the archaeological work carried out by Abbas Seed Ahmad Mohammed Ali in the Upper WadiHawar basin in the early 1980s (Mohammed-Ali 1981), a new phase of archaeological history in remote areas of the Nile began. Abbas mentioned that saying: "The archeology of Sudan until now is the study of the monuments of the Nile, with great emphasis on the historical periods,”. As others have shown the importance of revealing the problems that face the researchers in prehistoric studies in the Nile River by pointing out that the way to understand these problems comes from looking and research on the effects of the areas adjacent to the Nile Valley. His study opened this path since the beginning of the twentieth century for a multidisciplinary program in the western of the Nile desert in the area of potential communication between north Africa, central Sahara, and the Nile Valley, led by the Universities of Cologne and Berlin, Germany, to follow the evolution of human groups over the past ten thousand years and studying the economical and cultural adaptations for the environmental change processes. Work has continued since 1995 under the auspices of the so-called Arid Climate Adaptation and Cultural Innovation in Africa-ACACIA project, which was conducted in WadiHawar and in the adjacent areas.

In the past, WadiHawar formed a natural passage through the appropriate climatic phases, linking the eastern Shad mountain ranges with plateaus and plains adjacent to the Nile eastward (see map 3). However, no evidence of human habitation was found before about 6000 BC in the western parts of the basin, when groups of fishermen who used pottery settled in. Permanent water resources were used during the dry season and seasonal pastures during wet months, while there are evidence for several Acholic sites especially in the central and eastern regions of the river (Lange 2005. 15). A later phase in WadiHawar is characterized by a culture closer to what was found in many parts of the Nile during the period from the beginning of the sixth millennium BC, and was characterized by pottery similar to what was found at the Neolithic site of the Shaheenab. After the beginning of the fourth millennium BC, a great change took place in the valley of Hawar, with the emergence of a different culture called the Leiterband (Fig. 5), referring to a decorative pattern in the shape of the potsherds in the pottery that they made. Their locations spread chronologically between around 4000-2000 BC. It has been shown that the earliest phases of this culture are very similar to Neolithic cultures in central Sudan, while later stages show greater affinity with areas west of WadiHawar, such as Indy, or even locations in Mali. In this period, a new way of life emerged: intensive grazing of livestock. Later in the third millennium BC, the valley of WadiHawar witnessed increasing drought. However, a new development took place in the so-called "Handessi" (2200-1100 BC) in the Mid WadiHawar. During this period, however, sheep and goats were more important than cattle, with the continuation of hunting but less than before. This is clearly a direct response to the increasing drought in WadiHawar.

Through this narrative, human activities in prehistoric areas are different in different parts of the WadiHawar region, mostly due to environmental changes. In the wet Holocene era, most areas of WadiHawar were heavily exploited, except for the central region, which was very wet and with many swamps, while with the beginning of the Leiterband, the settlement turned into the Mid WadiHawar. During the Handessi horizon, the lower WadiHawar region was no longer suitable for permanent settlement due to the increasing drought, although the whole region was still used as an important desert route.

Along the eastern border of the Sudan and the Atbara River, many cultures with differing economic and cultural strategies prevailed to the east of the Nile River. Early surveys have identified in eastern Sudan, Atbara and Al-Botana; many of the archaeological sites dating back to the Neolithic period, especially on the steppe between Atbara and Al-Qash, known as "Al-Sarooba Phase" and chronologically dated to the fifth millennium BC. The inhabitants of this phase are believed to have relied primarily on hunting (especially wild cows, pigs, and lizards) as well as shells collecting. At the beginning of the fifth millennium, the east seems to have taken a different cultural path from the river areas, although it saw a late arrival of domesticated cattle and possibly later in the fourth millennium BC and associated with the so-called "Botana" group, whose sites spread along the Atbara River and the ancient courses of the Gash River.

During this period, the path of the Gash to the east has gradually moved to its present course in the second millennium BC. Throughout the second and third millennium, most of the Gash delta areas have been settled with the growth of various settlements throughout the sedimentary plain, known as the Gash group. Later, archaeological remains from several sites were shown to be based on an economic system based mainly on cattle, sheep and goats, with many remnants of milling tools, storage holes, and plant fingerprints on pottery. In late stages of cultural development in eastern Sudan, economic and social development seems to have gone hand-in-hand with growing evidence, especially from the Mahal Teglenus site, for the first community-linked administrative system in this region of Sudan.

Economic and Cultural Developments during the Neolithic Age:

There are two views on the origin of domesticated animals, which were the mainstay of the economy during the Neolithic period in Sudan: The first finds that these animals have reached the Middle Nile River from the north, i.e. Egypt, the second opinion focuses on the existence of ancient connections before the Neolithic between The Nile and the Sahara regions were the result of the spread of grazing to the Middle Nile, but we have to look at the origin of domesticated animals before it entered the middle Nile, whether after entering North Africa and then to the desert, or the food production developed in northeast Africa then entered the Nile. The second pillar of this economy, the exploitation and cultivation of domesticated plants is unfortunately a hypothesis in general, and we point out that most of the plant waste from the Neolithic period in the middle Nile is limited to the imprints found in the pottery, and a number of these imprints was found in the sites of Ez-Zakiab, Um Dheraiwa, Al-Kadaro, Al-Kadada and others, most of which are from the sorghum locally known as Mareeg "Sorghum Verticiliflorum", in addition to the wild ancestor of millet "PennisetumVidacum" at Ez-Zakiab site. In a subsequent study by Ann Stemler in 1990 on plant prints on pottery pieces at the sites of Al-Kadaro, Ez-Zakiab, Umm Dheraiwa and Al-Kadada, it proved that the maize species was similar to a wild type. However, the presence of domesticated plants has not been ruled out by Stemler, since it is considered possible that this wild-type maize is a domesticated primitive "Primitive Domesticate", but is very similar to wild species. On the basis of her identification of the plant prints, Stemler concluded that the most reasonable analysis of the evidence at those sites was that the sources of wild plants (which could have been cultivated) were food sources. However, her interpretation that the population has planted maize is based on indirect evidence. For finding the prints of those grains is something and cultivating it is something else. Even large quantities of milling tools at these sites do not indicate agriculture, but their increase in Neolithic sites may indicate a greater reliance on vegetarian food. This may have stimulated the population to carry out agricultural activities that increase the stock of plant food. This belief is only achieved by finding direct evidence of that, i.e., finding large quantities of plant residues, not indirect evidence such as grinding tools. On the other hand, there is a relative disappearance of the tools that can be used to cut the stems of grains such as machetes. The only tools that have been discovered and can be used as machetes are blades. However, we note the decreasing number of this tool when compared to the sites of the Middle Stone Age, while the researcher predicts that these tools should be increasing in numbers if they were used in harvesting plants, and before we say that the Neolithic groups have planted some, especially corn. On the other hand, we can assume that the large quantities of milling tools and the prints of wild corn are evidence of the intensive exploitation of plants since the Middle Stone Age, as they increased as a result of the increasing grinding tools during the Neolithic period.

However, Randy Halland used some of the evidence found in several locations in the middle Nile to assume that maize was cultivated by the early Neolithic population (6000-5000 years ago), but this hypothesis and others require further evidence.

With little evidence of plants and their scarcity in the Holocene era, the role played by the middle Nile man in developing and exploiting them remains unpredictable. Nor can the role of domesticated plants in the human adaptation of Holocene groups in this region be known in any way. The direct archaeological evidence used for inference, especially plant breeding, depends primarily on the residues of domesticated plants in sites, while indirect evidence includes tools that include milling tools still used today, machetes, pottery used for storage, and axe used for drilling. So which of these guidelines can be used in Sudan to infer plant breeding? The first evidence - plant residues - is still in its infancy and has not been fully substantiated. While the oldest evidence of domesticated maize in Sudan has been found after a long period of the Neolithic age, which is the type known as Sorghum Bicolor, It is located in two locations in Sudan, namely Mount Tomat in Al-Jazeera and dates to 245 ± 69 BC, and in the area of Qasr Ibrim in far north Sudan and dates back to 20 ± 127 BC. And this species was also found in a wide area in northeastern Africa from the beginning of the Christian era. However, there are indications of early domesticated maize emergence in eastern Sudan at the sites of Gash Delta previous to the Nile River sites, where several prints of domesticated maize were found in the pottery pieces dating back to the 2nd millennium BC. Milling tools have been used since the Middle Stone Age, and can be used for domesticated and wild plants alike. As for axes and machetes, we still need comprehensive evidence of their use as agricultural tools during the Neolithic period.

Settlement during the Neolithic period:

The study of buildings, settlements, natural agricultural landscapes and man-made artificial environment which are considered to be an archaeological remains should not be ignored. The term settlement has been used since the 19th century to distinguish archaeological sites containing habitation debris, which are described as settlement sites from non-residential sites such as burial and rites sites, and others. The settlement is defined as the "local context in which the community is supposed to live and where it has done its daily affairs." Thus, the settlement is the place, location or gathering of places and sites in which the members of society live and conduct their social and economic activities in a given period of time. The concept of settlement patterns was first developed in real use by Gordon R. Willey and his colleague Julian Steward after World War II.

Over the past five decades, the science of settlement effects has made progress in theoretical and methodological concepts, as well as in the geographically diverse landscapes that have been studied intensively (see, for example, the study of human settlement patterns in Holocene and its evolution from simple rural communities to urban centers , And eventually to the states and empires connected by roads and transport networks covering vast areas, and in this context there were few attempts regarding the Sudanese reality in the Holocene period, although most of these attempts did not focus on the pattern of the settlement itself but a set of settlements in a wide geographical area, for example the study of the geographical distribution of the sites on the ancient valleys of Dongola and the WadiHawar, the relationship between the major and seasonal settlements, or the relationship between sites that spread over major waterways and similar ones in the nearby or inland plains. These studies lacked the means to shape the geographical landscape of the site through long-term processes of human settlement, sometimes through multiple cycles of settlement expansion, transition, crisis periods, reorganization and others, due to the lack  of most of these sites -that were studied- except in the case of the location of the Shag Ad-Dood, for example, to compact layers, and the focus of the research in particular on certain aspects of the settlement (in the case of cemeteries connected to the site).

In the absence of evidence of construction in the sites of the Middle Stone Age and the Neolithic age in Sudan, the tombs represented an important cultural alternative to the study of the society and its structures. The same is true for the study of post-Neolithic sites in the far north of Sudan in the period of the cultural group A, with an equal concentration on tombs and buildings in later periods, characterized by extensive construction activity, especially in the period of the Karma civilization (2500 BC-1500 BC).

The study of the society in the middle Nile region during the period 5000-1500 BC showed that the population was initially a group that spread in a large geographic area with a focus on the main Nile River and its various branches and routes, but their numbers were small with low density during the Middle Stone Age and the Neolithic periods, covering the early and middle Holocene periods (see Figure 3). Perhaps the earliest experiences with village life that could reach a level of tribal social organization date back to the Neolithic Age, and there is a significant shift in social organization closer to form of the Chiefdoms (Al-Mashyakhat) at the end of this period, which may be characterized by other criteria such as social power and social "inequality" among social strata. As the population grew and the areas in which they moved increased, human exploitation of the microenvironment increased, possibly through continuous mobility with domestic animals and cattle at different times and to different regions.

In an attempt to prove this social organization, some studies in the Neolithic sites in Sudan focused primarily on funerary furniture or the contents of the tombs (see Fig. 6, 7). The main objective here was to identify the social disparities between the Neolithic population and the emergence of complex societies in the region. For example, Lech krzyzaniak studies at the site of Al-Kadaro, 48 km north of Khartoum, whose early tombs were divided into four categories according to the richness of funerary furniture. Attention was paid to the spatial distribution of these tombs in Aljabbana. The application of this type of curriculum, however, was largely based on the breadth of the cemetery and the number of graves that could be studied. After more than 30 years of continuous studies in the cemetery, the social structure of the Neolithic population in the region was identified as reflected in the graveyard of Al-Kadaro. It consists of four social classes, the most prominent of which were the tombs that were richer in funerary furniture which krzyzaniak named "The Elite”. Krzzyniak argued that the burial site "reflects the general social structure of the local human group". He also assumed that most of the tombs of the third category, which are concentrated in certain parts of the cemetery, represent the "tombs of the individuals who were the elite of the Neolithic group", while the few scattered tombs with few funerary furniture or those which do not contain any kind of funerary furniture belong to members of the lower layer of the social pyramid of this group ".

This means that Krzyzaniak has established his practical and theoretical approach to two principles: the quality and quantity of funerary furniture to analyze the social status of this group, which may also indicate that the social status plays an important part in determining the site of graves and their guidance. The factors governing the distribution of funerary furniture are not yet clear. However, we do not have to think that the social status may have played a major role in this distribution, especially since most of the luxury items (such as scepters, special pottery utensils, personal decorations made of ivory or semi-precious stones) have been found in specific tombs.

A slightly different approach from the one used by Krzyzaniak was followed by the French mission of the National Commission for Antiquities and Museums of Sudan at the sites of Al-Ghaba and Al-Kadada near Shendi. In general, the approach taken from the beginning was to focus more on social aspects in the analysis of the two tombs. Therefore, the tombs were first studied through the identification of cultural features. Later, a series of characteristics that the tombs reflected were reconstructed to reconstruct a model of burial customs that reflects a specific social complexity. The analysis was based mainly on the organization and spread of graves inside the cemetery. It is noteworthy here to identify specific groups of tombs by studying their strategic or topographical relationship. These groups are considered units that reflect social (family? Ethnic?) Relationships. The existence of certain pottery vessels or animal sacrifices were also considered important elements in these units. The cemetery of Al-Ghaba was considered a chronologically planned cemetery according to the topography of the earth, buried in it people belonging to a community of social equality (Egalitarian). The same situation was observed in Al-Kadada cemetery, although the presence of women's pottery statues was probably one of the most important innovation. In addition, some tombs were considered as a sign of human sacrifice, which may be considered an important factor in this society reflecting the society of Al-Ghaba was based on the principle of social differentiation.

A different approach was adopted in the excavation of Kadarka cemetery near the archaeological site of Karma and at Al-Jaili site north of Khartoum. In these two sites there was a greater interest in the anthropological method and analysis of the status of the funerary furniture in the tombs and the direction of the body in the cemetery of Kadraka, while the small number of tombs of the Neolithic Age in the cemetery of Al-Jaili prevented any study of the latter type and was instead turned to study the cemetery using the science of natural anthropology and bones chemistry. The recent trend has contributed to identifying changes in the food structure of different groups in the same cemetery and thus suggesting a model for their own economic activities and settlement patterns.

It is clear to us here that, despite the development of studies and practical and theoretical approaches, especially in the study of funerary customs in recent years, which focuses on the cemetery can contribute to knowledge of the faith and social contexts of the population, the Sudanese situation as reflected by the practical and theoretical trends of researchers in the Neolithic cemeteries look a little bit different. The approaches used either focus on the interpretation of funerary furniture or on the tombs themselves as evidence of the social order. Both approaches were used in the study of the cemeteries of Al-Ghaba and Al-Kadada. The main feature of the four sites in Al-Kadro, AL-Ghaba, Kadaraka were the existence of a few tombs containing rich funerary furniture that might reflect a kind of social status. Thus, these two approaches have led to the following results for many researchers in this field:

1. The quality of funerary furniture refers to the social status. In other words, the change in burial practices reflects a change in social status.

2. The degree of similarity between burial practices in different regions reflects the existence of local cultural relations.

3. It is clear that the process of social differentiation occurred in the Khartoum area during the long period preceding the stable life and because of the social structure of the pastoral society.

4. The spatial organization of tombs within the cemetery is an important dimension of the practices of death (for example, the distribution of graves in the cemetery of Al-Kadro).

There is no doubt that these approaches have a major and important drawback: the apparent neglect of the relationship between gender and age, and the quality and quantity of funerary furniture. Moreover, we do not know the relationship between the different dimensions of the tomb and the quality and quantity of funerary furniture. This is mainly due to lack of curriculum by the researchers and not to the lack of data and evidence as there are many graves that have not been excavated or neglected due to lack of time. Thus, the focus was on excavating the largest number of tombs to uncover physical remains as the first goal, bypassing the profound significance of the burial itself, the underlying beliefs, and the religious and magical rituals associated with it. Thus, reports of burial sites usually contain the boring contents list, which discusses in detail the physical remains, but rarely addresses the funerary concepts and beliefs themselves.

Subsequent developments in the prehistoric period:

With the end of the Neolithic period in northern Sudan, developed cultural horizons in the archaeological literature known as the early Nubian groups (Riesner 1910) began to emerge. During the first archaeological survey of Nubia, Riesner was able to distinguish between three groups of tombs according to the types of pottery found in them and the shape of the tombs. This is the case of Riesner's classification of Nubian groups A, B, C, and X.

Group A (about 3500 BC - 2800 BC)

In Riesner's view, group A represents the first human group to settle the Lower Nubia and represents an exodus of northern settlers into Nubia, which was abandoned and never inhabited. The existence of this group has been demonstrated by subsequent works, although many of Reisner's ideas regarding the origin and relationships of Group A were not right. The evidence provided by the High Dam campaign proved that the community and culture during the period of Group A had purely local characteristics and had a connection to the Neolithic community and culture in the Neolithic period "Abka culture" (see more detail Sadig 2010). It is also clear that there is no difference between group (A) and group (B), with a strong cultural relationship between group A and group C. In this context, one of the most important scholars of Nubian culture, William Adams, in his book "Nubia: Corridor to Africa”, avoided the ethnic implications of the word group and instead used a broader cultural word, Horizon putting (A) and (b) in one term which is (A-Horizon).

In fact, the word "group" carries a clear ethnic connotation. This was clearly demonstrated in the division of Riesner of the groups and their origins according to their cultural value, evolution or decline. This is largely the result of the autobiographical findings of Elliot Smith on the ethnic origins of Nubian groups.

The sites of Group A extend from Aswan to the second waterfall. But most of them are seasonal camps, although some of them were re-inhabited for several generations and can be divided according to archaeological remains and cemeteries to three periods which are: the early period and is a contemporary to the Jarzian culture one of the pre-family cultures in Egypt (about 3500 BC), the Classical Period of about 3400-3200 BC and the Late Period: 3200-3100 BC. And some researchers believe that the late period extends from 3150 to 2800 BC

The typical location of Group A contains evidence of the economy of the Group (A) such as cooking stoves, animal and fish residues. The population of group A is believed to have practiced the cultivation of wheat, barley, lentils and legumes. The breeding of cows remains vague, but there are some signs of it, such as the skin. However, only a few domestic animal bones were found in group A sites. It is not yet known how it contributed to the old Sudanese economy at the time. In addition, Egyptian and local pottery vessels were found, as well as polished stone slabs for crushing colors, and the heads of stone and copper axes. The most important archaeological remains are the foundations of walls of houses not more than 6 rooms, which is the oldest examples of architecture in northern Sudan, although they were just huts (Figure 8).

The tombs of Group A showed three important characteristics: the growing interest in the other life, the concentration of the revolution in the form of luxury goods, and the existence of commercial relations with the Northern provinces. The tombs were a simple, semi-circular oval pits dug up to 80 cm deep, and a second less common type is tombs with a side chamber not more than one and a half meters deep. The bodies were placed in a squatting position on the right side while the head was often placed to the west. Pottery and grinding stones made of alabaster, sandstone and others are placed around the body. The body is decorated with bracelets made of shells and stones. One of the most important tombs of Group A is the cemetery known as (L) in Gastal, which was found during the High Dam campaign. The cemetery contains numerous pottery and stone vessels and the tombs are described as royal, especially since their properties can be damaged as evidence of a complex culture with extensive external relations. These tombs were associated with a famous text attributed to the period of Group A, the text of Mount Solomon, which is believed to depict a battle that took place in the Nile between the Nubians and the Egyptians during the reign of King Gar, the third king of the First Dynasty. It depicts the Nubians as dead in the water after the Egyptians occupied two of their cities and captured their king, who his hands were tied in a bow-like shape as sign to the land of the arches (Tassiti), the name of which Nubia was famous with. Some believe that this text refers to the end of group (A), while others like Bruce Williams, who wrote about the (L) cemetery excavations, see this text as referring to the victory of the Nubians rather than their end.

Reisner found 21 sites and 415 graves classified as Group (B). However, during the second archaeological survey, only three sites and some tombs were recorded. No mission has yet found any traces of this group. Because of the time lag that may occur between groups (A) and (C), researchers continued to refer to group B from time to time while failing to prove its existence. These researchers had several views on Group B, including:

In 1919, the researcher Junker suggested that the population of Group B represented the poor class of group (A). This idea was very popular during the recent rescue campaign.

In 1966, researcher Harry Smith spoke extensively about Reisner's evidence in an article published in Kush Journal and found that more than a quarter of the graves of group B are free of antiquities, while about 30 of them contain animal bones Human bones, while in other tombs with one type of funerary furniture, Smith explained that some belonged to group A and another to group C, while the larger number could not be determined due to the extensive robbery and thefts of the tombs. In these tombs there was no distinctive parameter that could refer to group (B).

Smith described the Firth method of cemeteries classification by saying that the foundations used by Firth are concentrated in:

1. The expression group (B) in the tombs of group (A) is defined on any grave that appears on the basis of the tomb type to be older than group (C).

2. In group (A) cemeteries any grave of group B is classified as having signs of deterioration.

3. Smith thus considers group (B) to represent the poor class of group (A) or early stage of group (C).

Harry Smith wrote another article in 1991, entitled The Development of the A-Group Culture in Northern Lower Nubia, in which he sees that Group B was not after group A, but it represents the oldest evolutionary stages and not the last as he pointed out in his first article.

Thus, it is clear to us that group B represented for Reisner and Firth the group that fills the gap between group (A) and group (C) and is a good term for cemeteries that cannot be classified. But this was later out of the question because of the study by Harry Smith after a lengthy search for the classification developed by Firth and Riesner.

Group C about 2250 BC.

The most important characteristic of Group C is the black pottery with geometric decoration and the circular stone tombs. These features are believed to have first appeared in Lower Nubia around 2250 BC (Fig. 9, fig. 3). This history depends mainly on the presence of Egyptian goods in the tombs. There was a long talk about the origin of this group and was limited to three opinions:

1. The group C came from the west, especially from WadiHawar, where rock drawings similar to those found in the pottery of Group C were found.

2. Its origin is the Red Sea Mountains and the in the south in the region of Agurdat and the Tokar Delta.

3. It originated originally in Lower Nubia and is an extension of Group A.

A group of settlement centers in Al-Sayyalah and Enaiba are among the most important elements left by the group (C). The most important characteristic of these centers is the use of clay stone for the first time in the history of Lower Nubia. Strong evidence of the urban life of group C was found in a group of fenced villages dating back to the end of group C in Wadi al-Sbaoua. It is fortified by a wall of stone slabs about 1 meter thick and about two meters high and surrounded by the western part of the village. There are three entrances to this village, the largest on the western side.

The new innovation of this period is the manufacture of black vessels whose outer surfaces are decorated with many geometric designs, which are then covered with white, resulting in the appearance of white lines on a black surface. There are vessels decorated with human and animal motifs, especially cows. However pottery was still handmade.

The most important characteristic of the tombs of Group C is what is known as super-structure. Where a circular building of stone around the tomb is built up to about 5 feet high and about 500 feet in diameter. The most important characteristic of the tombs in this period:

a. The tombs were initially similar to the tombs of Group A (the circular pit and the Kom). Over time, this Kom expanded and pottery and funerary furniture were placed at the bottom of the Kom instead of inside the tomb itself. In the late period, a rectangular brick room was built in the eastern part of the superstructure for funerary furniture. The shape of the tomb was also changed from the circular shape to the rectangle.

b. The tomb was sometimes identified with stone slabs or mud bricks and then covered with wood or stone slabs.

The most important things that the graves of Group C reflects are:

1. The clothing of leather and necklaces that were found in some tombs of Group C and most of the necklaces were seashells or stone. There were very few weapons.

2. The cemeteries of Group C in the late period witnessed the placement of animal sacrifices, especially sheep, goats, deer, dogs and others. They were placed as a sacrifice buried directly with the deceased or dug into small tombs near the main tomb. Also putting the skulls of cattle, where its number indicates the importance of the dead.

3. Evidence for the use of snakes in the burial was found. This custom spread later in the time of the Karma civilization.

4. the most important economic aspect of group (C) is the obvious interest in cows, which they even painted on pottery, house walls and stone slabs placed near tombs. Among these, it is believed that the population of group C was primarily pastoral. Adams believes cows were a measure of wealth and social status. But the numerous villages, the quantities of pottery, and the tombs all show a stable life that does not correspond to pastoral life. Adams therefore believed that they had also practiced agriculture and were probably the main economic base of the Sudanese at that time. Adams finds that the population of group C is similar to the Sholok who measure their wealth with cows but spend most of their lives in agriculture.


During the Middle Stone Age and the Neolithic age, the methods of living and the exploitation of the ecological zones were developed by more organized groups of people, closer to Family Groups/Bands, rather than being Mashyakhat, which led to the appearance of the villages and Al-Mashyakhat and then the state during the Bronze Age which covers the period from the fourth millennium BC to the middle of the second millennium BC (about 3800 BC - 1500 BC), which saw the emergence of Nubian cultures/ groups in the far north (3800-1500 BC) and the civilization of Karma south of the third waterfall (2500-1500 BC), which originated early in what is known as pre-Karma (3500-2500 BC) (Picture No. 10, Figure No. 4), which represents the beginning of the settlement of Karma and its effects in the eastern part away from the main site. The buildings of this period were circular huts that yielded pottery similar to the pottery of Group A.

Statues of stone, pottery, bone and various decorative products are also among the most important art produced by the prehistoric man in the later period, many of which have already been mentioned in the paper. The stone and pottery statues in particular are one of the most important achievements of the Neolithic man in Sudan and their remains were found in many sites in Al-Kadada, Kadarka and others, some of which may represent ritual signs that have not yet been revealed, especially when compared to some similar stone statues in the ancient Middle East which witnessed the beginnings of the arts and beliefs embodied in the doctrines of "the sanctification of ancestors", "the mother goddess" and "the holy bull" (see the preface) (figure 3).

Of course, the development of these cultures in the sense we mentioned (family group - village - mashyakha - state) does not represent a coherent evolutionary sequence, but these stages have coexisted and interacted in complex ways over thousands of years. In general, the Bronze Age witnessed the development of tribal communities, Mashyakhat, and the state at a pace which shows the social change, corresponding changes in population size, spatial scope, and population density.

During the late Neolithic period, a culture that could be described (in a separate regional culture) or what is known in the group of archaeologists as A-Group emerged in northern Sudan. Archaeological material found in the tombs and sites of this group indicates the existence of regional elites associated with the northern Nile kings of late period in the pre-familial period. Although this culture disappeared at the beginning of the third millennium BC in a mysterious manner whose causes have not yet been known, a new culture of the Lower and Upper Nubia (known as C-Group), which formed the beginning of the series Of small kingdoms / mashyakhat in northern Sudan appeared.

The multi-cultural sites of the Bronze Age, the most important of which are Karma, near Dongola, have allowed the analysis of the historical chronology, which witnessed many fluctuations in the population, cultural and even environmental paths. This requires correct statistical data, including applications of ancient genetics through the study of the structure of the population structure, which constitute several variables, including sex, age, mortality rate or life rate. The use of old pathology has been based on the monitoring of solid tissues such as bones, teeth and tissues, using modern techniques such as microscopy and radiological analysis. Special attention has been given to the study of the condition of bones (Tvonombe) to complete the study of bone diseases, which gives us important information about the environment and general condition of bones after death, especially as they are essential in the study of funerary rites in which natural science plays an important role.

The Karma civilization, which was known by the Egyptians as the Kingdom of Kush, was concentrated in its capital, Kerma, which apparently started as a small village in the pre-Kerma period and then became the political center that dominated over 1000 years over 1,000 km of the Nile Valley and the remote areas. It was able by the second millennium BC to pose a great threat to Paranoiac Egypt. This threat was only removed by the conquest of Kerma by the pharaohs of the modern kingdom of Egypt around 1450 BC.

As in Egypt, the emergence of such specialized political regimes has played an important role in the development of pastoral societies. The physical manifestations of the Kushis have been identified in relatively homogeneous cultural traditions, now known to extend along the Nile to the Abu Hamad area to the south.

On the other hand, the site of Kerma provides an important evidence of the optimal utilization of the human to an environment with a geography of a special nature and the transformation of the site at least once because of the environmental condition originally related to the transformation of the river. In this site there are important signs of burial and complex civil settlement patterns covering an area of about 20 hectares and for a period of 1000 years, which characterizes the first urban society in Sudan. However, the relationship between urban settlement and its relationship with the landscape is not fully understood. This site revealed a large cemetery with more than 20,000 tombs, some of which are 70 to 80 meters in diameter, with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of cattle skulls placed around tombs, along with fine pottery, metalwork, and Egyptian imports, and ultimately large numbers of human sacrifices. The study of these tombs, usually of the human sacrifices, has opened the door wide to study the obvious links between the religious authority and the development of Kushism in Kerma. In addition, the extreme focus on livestock in funerary practice is that the pastoral system was a strong element in the residence and also of symbolic importance, although we still have little data from settlement sites during this important period in late Holocene.

Some researchers later (especially during the second and third rescue campaigns of Lower Nubia), archaeological works, and various research have modified some of Reisner's assumptions, especially with regard to the origin of these cultures (e.g.Nordstrom: 1972). This was the result of radical changes in archaeological theories, the growing skepticism of archaeologists in the theory of ethnicity, and the emergence of the new archetypal model, which sees society changing as a whole system. As an example, Reisner's assumptions about the origins of what he called the groups have been forgotten by many researchers, though they have always been mentioned as facts that cannot be bypassed. The evidence provided by the Second Rescue Campaign and the High Dam campaign showed that society and culture during the period of these cultures had a purely local character. It was also shown that there was no difference between groups (A) and group (B), with a strong cultural relationship between groups (A) and group (C).

While pursuing the traditional curriculum in his study of the civilization of Kerma, the Swiss scientist Charles Bonnet tried not to hasten the results but worked on the use of archeology techniques and his modern methods of excavation and gave equal weight to burial sites and settlement sites and try to access the local origins of culture.



Map 1 – Locations of Middle Stone Age and Modern Stone Age



Map 2 – Locations of the Neolithic Era



Picture 1 – Archeological monuments from Khartoum Hospital location, Pottery from the Middle Stone Age

  1. Grinding tool made of sandstone
  2. Spear made of bones
  3. Pottery pieces
  4. Tiny stone tools

(fromArkell 1949: copyright: The Petrie Museum, UCL).



Picture 2 – a. and b.: Pottery from the Neolithic period from Al-Kadada location


(Sadig. 2005).

Picture 3 – Small statues from the Neolithic period from pictures site



Picture 4 – Leiterband Pottery – the fourth thousand to the second B.C. in Hor Valley

Picture 5 – A model of habitation site during the Neolithic period and its archaeological layers – from pictures site (researcher’s archive).

Picture 6 – a grave of a Neolithic period’s elite person along with a human sacrifice.

(Source: Wildung, (ed). 1997)


(Source: Wildung, (ed))

Picture 7 -  Picture 6 – a grave of a Neolithic period’s elite person along with a human sacrifice in Kadraka site.




Picture 8 – Pottery belonging to Group A

The Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago


Picture 9 – Pottery with cows’ drawings belonging to the Group C period

The Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago


Picture 10 – a model of a part of a habitant for the era prior to Carama – approx. 3000 B.C





Picture 11 – Stone drawings of cows and cow breeders from Sabu site in the Third Waterfall – The second-third year B.C.

(Edwards etal 2012)



Shape 1 – Pottery from the Neolithic peiod

a, b, c, d, and e: from Reinold 2008 (copyright: Reinold/SFDAS). f, g and h: from Sadig 2010. i: from Nordström 1972 (copyright: Nordström). j and k: from Sadig 2008.


Shape 2 – Stone and bone made tools from the Neolithic period:

  1. The Gauge
  2. Bone spear
  3. Tiny stone tools
  4. D
  5. Small stone tool used to shape stone, bone and other tools
  6. Stone axes

. a and b: from Arkell 1953, UC14029 and UC14058 (copyright: The Petrie Museum, UCL). c, d and e: from Sadig 2010. f: from Edwards and Sadig 2011.



Shape 3 - The reinstallation of buildings of Group C

The Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago




Shape 4 – Showing a part of an inhabitant from pre-Carama period (3000 B.C.). Showing traditional agricultural and breeding projects along with big halls for seeds storage and livestock barns. Rectangle-like buildings are of religious and administrative purposes. Alongside huts used as homes.

(Source: Honegger. 2006)


[1]Arkell, A.J. (1949). Early Khartoum. An Account of the Excavation of an Early Occupation Site Carried Out by the Sudanese Government Antiquities Service in 1944-5. London

[1]Fernández, V.M. et al. (2003). Archaeological excavations in prehistoric sites of the Blue Nile area, Central Sudan. Complutum 14, 273-344

[1]Khabir. A. M. (1987). “New Radiocarbon Dates for Sarurab 2 and the Age of the Early Khartoum Tradition”. Current Anthropology, 28. 377–380.

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[1]Caneva, I. (ed.). (1988). El-Geili. The History of a Middle Nile Environment 7000 B.C.– A.D. 1500. BAR International Series 424. Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 29. Oxford.

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[1]Eisa, K. A. (1999). "The White Nile Archaeological Survey Project". in: D.A. Welsby (ed.), Recent Research in Kushite History and Archaeology. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference for Meroitic Studies, British Museum Occasional Paper 131, London, 267-268.

[1]Salvatori, S and Usai, D. (2008). A Neolithic Cemetery in the Northern Dongola Reach. Excavations at Site R12. Sudan Archaeological Research Society Publication Number 16, Oxford.

[1]Addison. F. (1949). Jebel Moya. Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


[1]Balfour Paul, H. G. (1952). "Early cultures in the Northern Blue Nile". SNR 33: 202–13.

[1]Marks. A. E and Fattovitch, R. (1989). ‘The later prehistory of the eastern Sudan: a preliminary view’, in L. Krzyzaniak and M. Kobusiewicz (eds) Late Prehistory of the Nile Basin and the Sahara, Poznan: Poznan Museum.

[1] Haaland&Magid. Opcit (1995).

[1]Fuller. D. Q. (1998). "Palaeoecology of the WadiMuqaddam: A preliminary report on the significance of the plant and animal remains". Sudan & Nubia 2: 52–60.

[1]Mallinson, M. et al. (1996). Road Archaeology in the Middle Nile. Vol. 1, London.

[1]Honegger, M. (2001). "Fouillespréhistoriqueset prospection dans la région de Kerma". Genava 49: 221–8.

[1]Welsby. D. (2001). Life on the Desert Edge. Seven Thousand Years of Settlement in the Northern Dongola Reach. Vol. II. SARS. London.

[1]Vila, A. (1979). La prospection archeologique de la vallee du Nil au sud de la Cataracte de Dal. 11, Paris: CNRS.

[1] Arkell. (1949a). Opcit.

[1]Arkell. A.J. (1975). The Prehistory of the Nile Valley, Leiden-Koln, E.J. Brill.

[1]Honegger. M. (2006). Recherchesprehistoriques sur les origines de kerma : Des premieres societessedentaires A l’emergence du royaume de nubie. In: Bonnet, Ch. Etal (eds). KermaetMéroé. Cinq conférencesd’archéologiesoudanaise. CCF - SFDAS. Khartoum, janvier 2006. Sudan Currency Printing Press. 14-17

[1]Elhassan, A. A. and Mohammed-Ali. A. (2015). "The Wavy Line Pottery in context". Adumatu. 32, 31-42.

[1]Garcea, E. A. A. (1994). "Mesolithic sequence in the settlement network of the Khartoum province’, in C. Bonnet, (ed.) Etudes Nubiennes, vol. II, Geneva: Satigny.

[1]Haaland. R. (1992). “Fish, Pots and Grain: Early and Mid-Holocene Adaptations in the Central Sudan”. African Archaeological Review, Volume 10, Number 1. December, 1992. 43-64.

[1]Shiner. J.L. (1968). "The Khartoum Variant Industry". In: Wendorf. F. (ed.). The Prehistory of Nubia. Vol. II. Dallas: Southern Methodest University Press. 768- 790.

[1]Shiner (1968).Opcit: 789

[1]Shiner. J.L. etal. (1971). The Prehistory and Geology of Northern Sudan. Part 1. Washington: Report to the National Science Foundation.

[1]Carlson. R.L. (1966). "A Neolithic Site in the Murshid District, Nubia". Kush XIV. Khartoum. 53-62.

[1]Tigani el-Mahi. A. (1988). Zooarchaeology of the Middle Nile Valley. A Study of Four Neolithic Sites near Khartoum. British Archaeological Reports. International Series 418. Oxford: Archaeopress.

[1]Sadig, A. M. (2005). "Es-Sour: a Late Neolithic site near Meroe". Sudan and Nubia 9, 40-46.

[1]Shiner (1968). Opcit:777.

[1]Nordstrom. H.A. (1972). Neolithic and A-Group Sites. The Scandinavian Joint Expedition to Sudanese Nubia. Scandinavian University Books. Upsalla.

[1] Shiner (1968). Opcit:778

[1]Myers. O.H. (1948). "Archaeological Discoveries during winter 1947-48. Excavations in the Second Cataract Area ". Sudan Notes and Records. 29. 129.

[1]Myers, O.H. (1960). "Abka Again". Kush. VIII. 174 - 181.

[1] Shiner. (1968). Opcit: 629.

[1]Wendorf. F. (1968b). The Prehistory of Nubia. Vol. II. Dallas.

[1] Ibid: 1051.

[1] Nordstrom. (1972). Opcit:17.

[1]Mohammed-Ali. A.S. (1982). The Neolithic Period in the Sudan, c. 6000-2500 BC. British Archaeological Reports International Series 139. Oxford: Archaeopress.

[1]Osman, A and Edwards, A. (2011). TheArchaeology of a Nubian Frontier. Survey on the Nile Third Cataract, Sudan. Mauhaus Publishing. England.

[1]Edwards, D and Sadig, A. M. (2011). "The Later Prehistoric Archaeology". in: Ali Osman and David N. Edwards. TheArchaeology of a Nubian Frontier. Survey on the Nile Third Cataract, Sudan. Mauhaus Publishing. England. 37-58.

[1]Reinold. J. (1987). "Les fouillespré-et proto-historiques de la SéctionFrançaise de la Direction des Antiquités du Soudan: les campagnes 1984-85 et 1985-86". Archéologie du Nil Moyen 2. Association pour la Promotion de l’ArchéologieNilotique. Lille. 17-67.

[1] Ibid. 44.

[1] Ibid. 50-51.

[1]Salvatori and Usai (2008). Opcit:46.

[1]Carlson. R.L. (1966). "A Neolithic Site in the Murshid District, Nubia". Kush XIV. Khartoum. 53-62.

[1]Salvatori, S and Usai, D. (2008). Opcit:59.

[1]Marks. A.E. (1968). "The Khormusan: An Upper Pleistocene Industry in Sudanese Nubia". In: Wendorf. F. (ed.): The Prehistory of Nubia. Vol. 1. Dallas. Southern Methodest University Press. 315-391.

[1]Smith. S.T. (2003). "The University of California Dongola Reach Expedition, West Bank Reconnaissance Survey: 1997-1998". Kush. XVIII. 157-169.

[1]Peressinotto. D. etal (2003). “Neolithic Nomads at El Multaga. Upper Nubia. Sudan”. Antiquity, Vol 78:299. 54-60.

[1]Garcea. E. A. A. (2000). “A Late Neolithic Site near el-Kurru". In: Recent Research into the Stone Age of Northeastern Africa. Studies in African Archaeology 7. Poznzn: Poznan Archaeological Museum. 137-147.

[1]Fuller. D. Q. (2004). “The Central Amri to Kirbekan Survey. A Preliminary Report on Excavations and Survey 2003-04”. Sudan and Nubia. The Sudan Archaeological Research Society, Bulletin 8. 4-10.


[1]Sadig. A. M. (2012). Chronology and Cultural Development of the Sudanese Neolithic, BeiträgezurSudanforschung 11: 137-184.

[1]Mohammed-Ali (1981). Opcit: 176

[1]Jesse, F. (2008). "Time of Experimentation? The 4th and 3rd millennia BC in Lower WadiHowar, Northwestern Sudan". in: Between the Cataracts. Proceedings of the 11th Conference for Nubian Studies. Warsaw University, 27 August – 2 September 2006. Part One. Main Papers, PAM Supplement Series Vol. 2.1, Warsaw. 49-74.

[1] Ibid.68

[1]Shiner (1971). Opcit.

[1]Marks and Fattovich (1989). Opcit.

[1]Fattovich, R. et al. (1984). "The Archaeology of the Eastern Sahel: Preliminary Results". The African Archaeological Review 2, 173-188.

[1]Magid. E. A. (1989). Plant Domestication in the Middle Nile Basin. An Archaeoethnobotanical Case Study. British Archaeological Reports International Series. 523. Oxford: Archaeopress.

[1]Mohammed-Ali. A. (1984). “The Neolithic of Eastern Sudan and its Implication for the Central Nile”. Nubian Culture - Past and Present. 17. 76 - 86.

[1]Haaland. R. (1987). Socio-economic Differentiation in the Neolithic Sudan. Oxford. BAR International Series 350. Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 20.


[1]Stemler. A. B. (1990). "A Scanning Electron Microscopic Analysis of Plant Impressions in Pottery from Sites of Kadero, El Zakiab, Um Direwa and El Kadada". Archéologie du Nil Moyen. Vol. 4. 87- 98.

[1]Ibid. 90.

[1]Ibid. 96.

[1]Haaland. R. (1981). Migratory Herdsmen and Cultivating Women. Bergen University. Mimeo.

[1]Sadig. A. M. (2013). "Reconsidering the 'Mesolithic' and 'Neolithic' in Sudan". in: Shirai, N. (ed) Neolithisation of Northeastern Africa. Studies in Early Eastern Production, Subsistence and Environment 16. Berlin ExOriente. 5-22.

[1]Rowley-Conwy, P. (1989). "Nubia AD 0–550 and the“Islamic" agricultural revolution: Preliminary botanical evidence from Qasr Ibrim, Egyptian Nubia". ANM 3: 131–8.

[1]Ibid. 211- 212.

[1]Constantini, L. and (etal). (1984). “Gash Delta Archaeological Project : 1982 Field Season.”. NyameAkuma. 23. 17- 18.

[1]Kohler TA, Gumerman GJ, eds. (2000). Dynamics in Human and Primate Societies: Agent-Based Modeling of Social and Spatial Processes. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

[1]Trombold CD, ed. (1991). Ancient Road Networks and Settlement Hierarchies in the New World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

[1]Welsby. D. (2001). Opcit.

[1]Kuper, R., (1989). The Eastern Sahara from North to South: data and dates from the B.O.S. project. In: Krzynaniak, L., Kobusiewicz, M. (Eds.), Late Prehistory of the Nile Basin and the Sahara. Polish Academy of Sciences, Pozna. 197–203.

[1]Haaland. R. (1997). ‘Emergence of sedentism: New ways of living, new ways of symbolizing’, Antiquity 71: 374–85.

[1]Mohammed-Ali. (1984). Opcit.

[1]صادق ، أزهري مصطفى. (1999).حقيقة انقطاع الاستيطان البشري في وسط السودان. 2250-1000 ق.م. رسالة ماجستير غير منشورة. جامعة الخرطوم.

[1]Krzyżaniak. L. (1992). "Some Aspects of the Later Prehistoric Development in the Sudan as seen from the Point of View of the Current Research on the Neolithic". In: Bonnet. Ch. (ed.): Étudesnubiennes. Conférence de Genève. Actes du VIIeCongrès International d’ÉtudesNubiennes 3-8 Septembre 1990. Vol.I, Genève. 267-273.

[1]Ibid: 270

[1]Reinold. J. (1991). “NéolithiqueSoudanais: les CoutumesFunéraires". In: Davies. W. V. (ed.): Egypt and Nubia, Nubia from Prehistory to Islam. London. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. London. 16-29.

[1]Geus. F. (1991). "Burial Customs in the Upper Main Nile: An Overview". In: Davies. W.V. (ed.): Egypt and Africa, Nubia from Prehistory to Islam. London. 57-73.

[1]Coppa, A. (1988). "Changing Dietary Patterns at Geili". In: I. Caneva (ed.), El Geili, The History of a Middle Nile Environment 7000 BC-Ad 1500. Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology. BAR International Series. 424. 275-302.

[1]Caneva. I. (1994). "New Methods of Data Collection and Analysis in Sudanese Prehistoric Archaeology". In: F. Geus (ed.), Nubia Thirty Years Later. Pre-publication of Main Papers, Society for Nubian Studies. Eighth International Conference 11-17 September. Lille.

[1]Sadig. A. M. (2004). The Neolithic of Nubia and Central Sudan. An Intra-Regional Approach. Unpublished PhD Thesis. University of Khartoum.

[1]Williams. B.B. (1986). The A-group Royal Cemetery at Qustul: Cemetery L. Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

[1]Nordstrom (1972). Opcit.

[1]Bonnet. C. (ed.). (1990). Kerma, royaume de Nubie, Geneva: Museed’Artetd’Histoire.

[1]Reisner. G.A. (1923). Excavations at Kerma, pt I-III. Cambridge.

[1]Adams, W. Y. (1977). Nubia Corridor to Africa. Oxford University Press.


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