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The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Nubia

This course examines the development of the art and architecture of the cultures of ancient Nubia through what we have learned from archaeology and how that evidence has helped us create the picture we now have of the culture and history of the birth and development of art and civilization in the Nile Valley.


Course at a Glance

About the Course

The class will reveal one of the most dynamic, yet little known cultures of the ancient world.  We will explore the geography and archaeology of Nubia, Egypt’s neighbor to the south and home to a series of remarkable and innovative civilizations. It will cover the period from the earliest inhabitants of the Nile Valley (Paleolithic through Neolithic and domestication of plants and animals), and continue until the advent of Christianity. 

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Lost Land Emerging: The Geography of Nubia

Week 2: In the Beginning: Pre-History to the A-Group

Week 3: The B-Group, C-Group, and Pan-Grave Cultures

Week 4: The City and the Kingdom: The Kerma Culture

Week 5: The Empire Strikes Back: New Kingdom Occupation

Week 6: Nubian Renaissance & Naptan Nubia

Week 7: Southern Strategy: Meroitic Nubia

Week 8: The Long Twilight: Post-Meroitic Nubia

Recommended Background

This course has no prerequisites, though a basic knowledge of archaeology and of ancient Egypt would be helpful. 

Suggested Readings

All required materials will be provided in the course, However, students wanting to read further may find the following books helpful: Marjorie Fisher, Peter Lacovara, Sue D’Auria, and Salima Ikram eds., Ancient Nubia: African Kingdoms on the Nile - with photographs by Chester Higgins (American University in Cairo Press, 2011); Robert Morkot, The Black Pharaohs (Rubicon, 2000); W. Y. Adams, Nubia Corridor to Africa (Princeton University Press, 1977); and, David O’Connor, Ancient Nubia: Egypt’s Rival in Africa (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1993)

Course Format

The class is a combination of video lectures from five to 20 minutes in length with images of sites and objects along with maps and plans. There will also be some film clips as well. There will be weekly quizzes to help students measure learning and explore the materials in more depth.