Photo of museum display case containing statue depicting kneeling king offering small globe-shaped vessels to large falcon deity.

King Taharqa worshipping the falcon-god Hemen, Louvre, Paris, France

The Kingdom of Kush:

Research on an Early State Society in Africa

Mohamed Bashir

ISAW Visiting Research Scholar

This lecture will take place in person at ISAW.

Registration is required at THIS LINK.

The kingdom of Kush was a powerful state in the Nile Valley that existed from around 1000 BC. - 350 AD. This kingdom consisted of two phases, the Naptian and the Meroitic phase. In the early phase, from the ninth century BC, the seat of power was in the north at Napata, near the modern city of Karima. In this phase, influences from Egypt clearly dominated the symbolic expression of royal power, a result of cultural interaction and adaptation by the kings of the 25th Dynasty.

The second phase, ‘300 BC - 350 AD’, named after the capital Meroe, was clearly characterised by indigenous African and mixed traditions dominating the theme of material culture. During this period, trade in African products such as ebony, elephants, gold, iron, ivory and ostrich feathers was very active in various directions. The trade routes crossed the desert and stretched down the Nile from Meroe to Greco-Roman Egypt and via the Red Sea ports to various destinations in the Middle East.

This lecture introduces the glorious past of the Kushites as part of the human experience as well as the aspects of life and the afterlife in the late Kushite city of Kedurma in northern Sudan.

Mohamed Bashir is an archaeologist interested in the study of settlement patterns and ancient urbanisation as a key method for understanding past human activities, the adaptation of societies to the environment, and cultural, economic and political relationships within societies and between cultures. In particular, his research focuses on the Kingdom of Kush (c. 1000 BC - 350 AD) in present-day Sudan as an example of early Iron Age state societies in Africa.

He received his B.A. (2011), M.A. (2015) and PhD. (2018) in archaeology from the University of Khartoum, Sudan.

His dissertation was entitled "Meroitic Urban Centres: a comparative archaeological study between Kedurma and Hamadab." He completed his dissertation under a DAAD regional fellowship and spent six months on research at the Institute of Egyptology and Coptology, University of Münster (Germany, from 1 May to 31 October 2018.

He has extensive fieldwork experience and served as field director for the three main archaeological projects in his department between 2016 and 2021. One project involved the northern environs of ancient Meroe, where he led excavations in Wadi el-Dan north of ancient Meroe, the other as part of the ongoing Mahas Survey project on the 'The Historical Town of Nauri'," and the last at Kedurma, which received funding from various institutions, including the National Geographic Society 2020, the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) 2021-2022, and the Michela Schiff Giorgini Foundation 2022.

He is currently a full-time visiting research scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University.

His current research focuses on the study of ancient population dynamics and the evolution and shift of burial patterns over time in Nubia. To do this, he combines traditional analytical methods of archaeology with molecular-level analyses, such as ancient DNA analysis, as well as interviews with living people, to gain the fullest possible understanding of the past and present history of this region.

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