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The Cemetery R12
El Salha 2004
Postcard from Sudan...

Kasura


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THE EL SALHA PROJECT (CENTRAL SUDAN): THE 2001 CAMPAIGN
Donatella USAI

The El Salha archaeological project, named from the largest modern village in the area, started in November 2000. A second campaign, with the financial support of the Italian Institute for Africa and the Orient, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Michela Schiff Giorgini Foundation and the sponsorship of the Italian firm GASID of Turin, was carried out between November and December 2001.
The surveyed area is located south of Omdurman. Starting from the western bank of the White Nile it stretches to the west for 35 km to reach the Jebel Baroka hills (Fig. 1).
Our first goal is to plot on a map all the archaeological evidence present in the area and to collect relevant data on environmental transformations and human adaptation from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Age.
The choice of the area was oriented by the hypothesis of a peculiar role played by Central Sudan in the human society development between Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene times.
A second reason for choosing this area was the strong urbanisation process which is investing it as a consequence of the capital area expansion. Such an uncontrolled urban growth is destroying important archaeological sites, both settlements and graveyards.
A further aim of our project is to look for evidence of the most ancient human frequentation, antedating the Early Holocene Mesolithic groups based on a hunting-gathering-fishing economy. Actually, the presence of human groups along the Nile Valley during the Late Pleistocene, 40.000-10.000 BP, is known only to the north of the 4th cataract.
We are better informed about later developments when the area was densely peopled by groups of foragers and subsequently by Neolithic populations whose economy was based upon cattle breading, sheep-rising, and agriculture. At this stage a more complex social organisation developed as highlighted by a number of Neolithic cemeteries since now excavated north of Khartoum and in Sudanese Nubia (Esh Shaheinab, El Ghaba, Kadero, Kadada, R12, Kadruka) (Fig. 2).

A gap in the cultural sequence of Central Sudan is centred between the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC to the rising of the Kushite kingdom and of the later Christian kingdom of Alwa whose capital was in Soba, 22 km to the south-east of the White and Blue Nile confluence (Fig. 3).


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