Archaeobotanical research and ceramic production of early food producers in south-central and eastern Sudan

Start: Jun 23, 2014 10:00 AM

Location: Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology

Pearl Millet in the Bayuda Desert, Sudan

A workshop which will to re-examine the state of current knowledge of early farming in the Sudan and explore its socio-economic context will be held at the Institute on 23 June.

The workshop, which will take place from 10am on Monday 23 June 2014, will bring together scholars from University College London, the University of Naples, University of Cambridge, University of Warwick and Ethiopia to consider new evidence emerging from the eastern Sudan that promises to shed new light on ongoing issues such as the nature and timing of domestication of plants such as sorghum. A further workshop and discussions will be held in Cambridge the next day.

In addition to presentations, the schedule with allow for workshop discussions and consideration of ceramic assemblages, their classification and dating, especially those deriving from recent work in eastern Sudan.

Assemblages of plant macro-remains from Sudan remain few and far between, with clear evidence for domesticated sorghum only from Meroitic and later contexts. This has lead to debate over whether sorghum was a late domestication, or whether evidence has been lack. Much of the evidence for early occurrence of sorghum has derives from grain inclusions in the temper of ceramic sherds, although wild versus domesticated status has been debated. Therefore the chronology of the pottery assemblages that contain likely sorghum and their implications for social cultural evolution are central to better understanding social evolution in Sudan.

Neolithic sites in Nubia

The present workshop will aim to bring together researchers with knowledge of the ceramics, archaeobotanical evidence and early sorghum evolution to draw together the current knowledge and ways forwards. In particular this will include consideration of ceramics from the southern Gezira (Jebel Moya, south-central Sudan) and eastern Sudan (Butana, Gash and Hagiz ceramic groups), and their socio-chronological framework, as well as archaeobotanical and current genetic evidence of sorghum. Recent results from Università di Napoli "L'Orientale" expedition to Eastern Sudan (led by Prof Andrea Manzo) will be considered alongside new examination of Jebel Moya material and reconsideration of classic assemblages such as Shaqadud.

This workshop is supported by the ERC-funded ComPAg project at UCL, the Domestication and Early Food Production research network of the Institute of Archaeology, and Università di Napoli "L'Orientale".

Subsequent days of workshop meetings are supported by the MacDonald Institute (University of Cambridge) and the British Museum Department of Egypt and Sudan.

Any enquiries about the event may be directed to Dorian Fuller.