The Kerma culture is mainly attested in Upper Nubia, south of the Second Cataract. Its southern borders are not known, but most likely south of the Fourth Cataract. The culture can be divided into several phases.
|Pre-Kerma||closely related to the A-Group||about 3500 - 2200 BC|
|Early Kerma||about 2100 BC|
|Middle Kerma||main centres are Sai and Kerma||about 2000 -1700 BC|
|Classical Kerma||state formation; main centre: Kerma||1700 - 1550 BC|
|Kerma late||the culture disappears after the conquest of Nubia by the Egyptians||1550 - 1450 BC|
Particularly close trading contacts with Egypt are attested in the Middle and Classical Kerma phases. Classical Kerma already formed a state centred at Kerma (first excavated by Reisner), where large tombs and a palace like structure ('Deffufa') were found. The name of one Kerma ruler is known from an Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription found at Buhen, which was occupied in the Second Intermediate Period by the Kerma culture: the name is Nedjeh (nDH, on stela Khartoum Museum 18). As far as is known from the archaeological record, the Kerma culture did not develop its own writing system. At some places in Egypt tombs with Kerma pottery have been found, and settlement sites have also yielded examples of Kerma pottery (Tell el Daba, Deir el-Ballas). The tombs never appear in large groups and it is an open question whether they belong to Kerma people buried in Egypt or to Egyptians buried with imported Kerma pottery.
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