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Abu Erteila 2008-2020
Twelve Years of Research in a New Meroitic Site - SERIE ORIENTALE ROMA n.s. 20

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I am really pleased to introduce this volume devoted to the ISMEO – IOS RAS (Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences) joint archaeological Mission at the Sudanese site of Abu Erteila, that has been being sustained by the new ISMEO since the re-foundation of our Association in 2012. The mission had started in 2009 under IsIAO (Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente) in the frame of an international agreement with IOS-RAS, and after 2012 we did not hesitate to continue to offer our patronage, also in consideration of its excellent results. Notwithstanding its relatively brief life, the main finds of the Mission have been many times reported by international press agencies, and represented the core of two study days promoted and published by ISMEO: Atti della Quarta Giornata di Studi Nubiani, Rome, 2014, and Proceedings of the Fifth Day for Nubian Studies, Rome, 2017, both co-edited by the authors of the present volume. ISMEO archaeological activity in Sudan is a clear example of our engagement in preserving and enriching highly valuable scientific heritages in need of international help, and at the same time the best continuation of the research already accomplished in a not-too-distant past by such prestigious institutions as IsMEO (Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente) and IsIAO. ISMEO is actively involved in the study of major African cultures in continuity with the strong Italian tradition in this field. It currently supports archaeological projects in several countries in the Northern and Eastern areas of the continent — Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan itself —, most of them in cooperation with international universities and research centres. All the ISMEO Missions are recognized by the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, whose patronage has permitted inter alia the publication of this volume; the five-year MIUR (Italian Ministry of Scientific Research) Project “Studi e ricerche sulle culture dell’Asia e dell’Africa: tradizione e continuità, rivitalizzazione e divulgazione” was also instrumental in supporting both the excavations and their publications. This volume summarizes the first twelve years of research at Abu Erteila. The two authors, who have been leading the Italian team since the first field season, accurately report the results of their work, that is still ongoing: the several finds related to architecture, art, material culture and funerary customs are listed and analysed also in the light of the wider Nubian context, and the contribution of specialists — epigraphists, chemicals, geologists, archaeozoologists and restorers — enriches and completes the presentation. These pages make clear that Abu Erteila has now acquired a solid role in the context of Nubian archaeology, thanks to a team that represents one of the many examples of fruitful international relationships established or continued by ISMEO. I would like to conclude these lines extending my warm thanks to NCAM (National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums of Sudan) and to the Italian Embassy in Khartoum for the continuous support offered to the Mission, in the certainty that this cooperation will continue to affect also the future ISMEO projects in Sudan. (dalla premessa di Adriano Rossi)


Adriano V. Rossi, President of ISMEO
H.E. Gianluigi Vassallo, Ambassador of Italy in Khartoum
Hatim Elnour, General Director of NCAM


1. The Site (E.F., M.B.)
The Italian-Russian Joint Mission
History of Studies

2. Flora and Fauna (R.A.L.)

3. Before Excavations: Survey with GPR

4. Building Materials (M.B.)
Vegetal Materials

5. The Residential Building K 800 (E.F., M.B.)
The Northern Part
The Southern Annex

6. The Main Temple K 1000 (E.F., M.B.)
The Original Plan
The Southern Enlargement
The Additional Structure K 1200
Consecration and Dating of the Temple
Later Occupation of Kom II

7. The Sacred Heart (E.F.)
The Ferricrete Sandstone Furnishings from the Main Temple

8. The Lion Temple and Its Kiosk (E.F., M.B.)
The Temple K 1100
The Kiosk K 1300
Consecration and Dating of the Temple

9. The Wall-Paintings (E.F.)
Exterior of Main Temple K 1000
Interior of K 1000
K 1100
Chemical Observations

10. The Main Finds (M.B.)
Libation Basins: Homaging Hapy
Other Finds

11. Pottery (M.B.)
Containers Set in the Ground
The Occurrence of Pot-Marks
The Effects of Firing in Reducing Conditions
Egg-shell Pottery
Archaeometrical Characterization
Pottery Catalogue

12. Replicas (E.F.)
First Phase (Sudan)
Second Phase (Italy)

13. Cemetery (E.F., M.B.)
Microscopic Investigations of Textiles

14. The Church (M.B., M.R.V.)
External Plan
Internal Plan

Index 17x24, pp. 328, Brossura Filo refe, Ill. a colori