Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Gold Processing Centre on Middle Nile

Archaeologists Discover Gold Processing Center On The Nile

Archaeologists from the University of Chicago have discovered a gold processing center along the middle Nile, an installation that produced the precious metal sometime between 2000 and 1500 B.C. The center, along with a cemetery they discovered, documents extensive control by the first sub-Saharan kingdom, the kingdom of Kush. The team from the University's Oriental Institute found more than 55 grinding stones made of granite-like gneiss along the Nile at the site of Hosh el-Geruf, about 225 miles north of Khartoum, Sudan. The region was also known also known as Nubia in ancient times.Groups of similar grinding stones have been found on desert sites, mostly in Egypt, where they were used to grind ore to recover the precious metal. The ground ore was likely washed with water nearby to separate the gold flakes. . . .

The University of Chicago expedition is part of an international recovery project underway intended to find artifacts related to Kush and other civilizations that flourished in the area before archaeological sites are covered by a steadily rising Nile. The area is being flooded by Hamdab or Merowe Dam, located at the downstream end of the Fourth Cataract. The lake to be formed by this dam will flood about 100 miles of the Nile Valley in an area that had previously seen no archaeological work."Surveys suggest that there are as many as 2,500 archaeological sites to be investigated in the area. Fortunately, this is an international effort-teams from Sudan, England, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the United States have been working since 1996, with a large increase in the number of archaeologists working in the area since 2003," Emberling said.The area will probably be flooded next year, but the team hopes to return for another season of exploration.

Also on the LA Times website:

Archeologists have unearthed a 4,000-year-old gold-processing center along the middle Nile in Sudan that suggests the ancient kingdom of Kush was much larger than scholars previously believed and would have rivaled the domain of the Egyptians to the north.Kush, which was called Nubia by the Greeks, was the first urban civilization in sub-Saharan Africa.

The discovery of the gold center and a related graveyard is providing new information about the relationship between rulers in the capital city, Kerma, and its peripheral subjects, said archeologist Geoff Emberling of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, who is announcing the find today.

Believed to have flourished from about 2400 BC until the 2nd century AD, Kush "is gradually coming out of the shadow of Egypt," said archeologist Derek A. Welsby of the British Museum, who was not involved in the excavation. "We didn't know that Kush extended into the 4th Cataract zone" of the Nile, Welsby said, referring to the region where Emberling excavated

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