In 2000, Dr. Smith led an archaeological expedition to Tombos
in Sudanese Nubia. Smith and his team uncovered the 3500 year
old pyramid tomb of an ancient Egyptian colonial administrator
named Siamun and his wife Wernu, along with the remains of
contemporary burials of middle class Egyptians or Egyptianized
Nubians. The mummified colonists were equipped with coffins,
Ushabti figurines, scarabs, amulets and earrings of ivory,
faience, glass, jasper and carnelian, ebony tubes and applicators
for kohl eye-paint, an ebony boomerang for bird hunting, and
numerous pots for food offerings, including two extremely
rare Mycenean jars. (To see pictures of all of these items
and more, visit the Artifacts
2000 Staff: Michele Buzon, (UCSB), J. Cameron Monroe (UCLA),
Elizabeth Klarich, Melissa Chatfield, and Claudia Rumold (UCSB),
Antiquities Inspector Al-Hassan Ahmed Mohamed.
Additional excavations were carried out in the winter of 2002 and 2005, supported by the National Geographic Society, ISBER at UCSB, and the UCSB Academic Senate. More information on these seasons will be posted here in the future, including more on the New Kingdom colony and the discovery of tombs from the time of the Nubian Dynasty (Egyptian Dynasty 25). For more information on the 2002 season, see Dr. Smith's recent book, Wretched Kush (Publications Page).
In 2010 we carried out excavations directed by Profs. Stuart Tyson Smith and Michele Buzon (Purdue University) and funded by the National Science Foundation (BCS-0917824) the National Geographic Society, and the Schiff-Giorgini Foundation. Excavation targeted areas of the pyramid and tumulus cemeteries that cover the transition between the New Kingdom colony (c. 1500-1000 BC) and the rise of the Napatan Pharaohs (c. 750-650 BC).
With continuing support from the National Science Foundation and the Schiff-Giorgini Foundation, we will return in Winter 2011 to follow up on some of our new discoveries.
The UCSB West (Left) Bank Archaeological Survey from el
Kab to Mograt
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) expedition began work at the fourth cataract with a reconnaissance survey on the right bank of the Nile from el Kab to the end of Mograt Island in November and December 2003. This salvage work was undertaken in co-ordination with the Meroe Dam Archaeological Salvage Project in areas that will be impacted by the new reservoire behind the Merowe Dam. That reservoire is now quickly filling with the completion of the dam (Summer 2008)
Our team consisted of Stuart Tyson Smith, George Herbst,
Michele Buzon, and Brian Park. Hassan Mohamed Ahmed, our representative
from the NCAM, ably assisted us.
The project was primarily supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0341789), with additional resources
provided by UCSB.
The entire area of the concession was covered and fifty-one
sites were registered. As part of our goals, we wanted to
produce a digital map of the archaeological sites that we
identified in the area between El Kab and Mograt. We were
initially limited by the fact that current topographic maps
of our study area were unavailable to us. To overcome this,
we relied on the integration of satellite imagery and Global
Positioning Systems data in a Geographic Information System-in
this case ArcView GIS. We recorded a total of 51 sites. Neolithic
and Kerma sites dominate the temporal inventory, accounting
for 60% of the sites that could be dated. Meroitic sites were
completely absent, and we could identify only a single Post-Meroitic
cemetery, although it is likely that some of the undated tumulus
cemeteries can be placed this period. Surprisingly, comparatively
few Christian and Islamic sites were identified, indicating
that the area was more sparsely occupied than the region further
downstream, in spite of the existence of saqqia technology
that would allow irrigation past the limited floodplain. This
may reflect the high riverbanks, rugged terrain and large
sand dunes that characterize this reach and continue to limit
From 2006 to 2009, this project entered its excavation phase as a collaborative project between UCSB and Arizona State University, directed by Stuart Tyson Smith, George Herbst (UCSB), and Brenda Baker (ASU). This work is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0647053), the Packard Humanities Institute (07-1391, 07-1424, 08-1472), the UCSB Academic Senate and the Institute for Social, Behavioral and Economic Research at UCSB (ISBER). Results include the discovery of the only settlement sites in the region from the Neolithic and Kerma periods to have stratigraphy and remains of postholes and intact hearths indicating round houses, and the excavation of a large cemetery that includes an important transition from the late Meroitic period, through the Post-Meroitic, and on into the Christian era. ASU is following up in Winter 2009 with a final season of excavation.
Dongola Reach Survey
From 1996-98, a team led by Stuart Tyson Smith conducted intensive
reconnaissance surveys in the Dongola Reach along the West
Bank of the Nile running 140 km south to Khandaq. Over a hundred
sites were visited, building on and extending the earlier
survey of Edwards and Osman from 1992 to 1994. Much of this
area had never been systematically investigated. Artifacts
found during the survey can be seen in the Survey
1997 Staff: Bruce Beyer Williams (Oriental Institute, University
of Chicago), Julie Renée Anderson (Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto),
Antiquities Inspector Al Tahir Adam Al Nur.
1998 Staff: Patti Hill Rabbitt (University of California
San Diego), Antiquities Inspector Ali Almirghani Mohamed Ahmed
Survey in the Sahara, 1997
From the Dongola Reach survey: Egyptian 5 piaster coin, Islamic glazed ware, and European transfer print ceramic