Burials in Egyptian Controlled Areas
In 1550 BC, the Egyptian pharaohs were able to impliment loose control over indefinite northern
territories in Sudan along the third cataract area.1
Burial traditions through the territories show both Egyptian and Kushite traditions; nonetheless, it is often too hard to distinguish between the two. Location and time period, being associated with the type and duration of Egyptian presence,
was a major factor in determining the kinds and styles of burials.
Tombos is the only recognizable Egyptian colonial
site in Sudan beside Kawa. Archeological excavations there were highly valuable
for shedding light on the nature and degree of interaction between
the Egyptians and the local Kushites. However,
since Kushite and Egyptian cultures have always been closely intertwined,
it is often difficult, and sometimes impossible, to distinguish
between Egyptian and Kushite burials. For example, although
in most Kushite burials the bodies were laid in contracted positions
on their right sides with the heads facing north, examples
of extended Kushite burials were also found, especially in Lower
Nubia. Since the Egyptians favored the same extended body position,
some archeologists believe that such burials traditions were the result of cultural
influences from Egypt during the New Kingdom. Contrary to this belief, extended burials have
been found in Sudan dating to as far back in time as the prehistoric period.2
Mirror from tomb at Semna. Middle to New Kingdom. Source: Wildung,
Dietrich. Sudan: Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile.
However, burials excavations at Tombos were still valuable for
widening our scope on the Kush-Egypt relations. Evidence from
the site seems to indicate that the Egyptians were well assimilated
into their surrounding Kushite culture. Intermarriage between the Egyptian
administrators and locals was not uncommon by all means. Evidently,
the Egyptian colonial policy in Tombos was not as tight as it was
in the C-Group area of Lower Nubia centuries before.
Some graves discovered elsewhere in Sudan for the period,
indicate a peaceful relationship with Egypt. Such discoveries point to the complex relationship that existed between Kush and Egypt, of which we unfortunately know very little about.
In the Winters of 2000 and 2002, the University of California,
Santa Barbra (UCSB), carried an expedition led by Dr. Stuart T.
Smith in the town of Tombos (in Sudan). The expedition uncovered
a pyramid, which belonged to an Egyptian colonial governor named
Siamun, which also means "Son of Amon".3 The pyramid was built in accordance to the local Kushite burial architecture. Other mummies
of Egyptian personnel have also been uncovered in the site. Findings in some of the Egyptian burials included personal adornments
like Kohl tubes, ebony fragments, shawabiti of Egyptian figures,
and pottery with some Mycenaean Jars included.
Edited: Dec. 2010.