Pennsylvania: From the Green Sahara to Kushite Pharaohs: Common origins, differentiation, and the long term entanglements of Nubians and Egyptians

Presented by: Dr. Stuart Tyson Smith

  • 3:30 PM ETPennsylvania
  • Penn Museum Classroom L23260 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
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Egyptologists have for a long time seen Egypt as isolated along the Nile and a “civilizing” force that drove developments in Nubia. The archaeological evidence for the “green Sahara” (c. 12,000-3500 BCE) has led to an increasing realization that ancient Nubia and Egypt have common origins in a pastoral complex that thrived in what is today barren desert across a wide swath of northeast Africa. People and cultures entangled, creating related but still distinctive groups who shared sets of symbolic resources and cultural practices across the region in the grasslands that are now desert and along the Nile. Two great African traditions, Nubian and Egyptian, began to differentiate with the formation of the Pharaonic and early Kushite states as the rains marched southwards into the Sahel, but Nubians and Egyptians remained in constant contact, sometimes as rivals, sometimes as partners or allies. These entanglements and mutual influence deepened during the New Kingdom Egyptian empire and in its aftermath with the rise of the Kushite Dynasty. This presentation will discuss this changing picture of Nubian and Egyptian origins and long history of intercultural exchange using evidence from archaeological work at Tombos and other sites at the Third and Fourth Cataracts.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Stuart Tyson Smith is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has published on the dynamics of Egyptian imperialism and royal ideology, the use of sealings in administration, death and burial, and the ethnic, social and economic dynamics of interaction between ancient Egypt and Nubia. He recently co-edited Origins and Afterlives of Kush, a special issue of the Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections (2022). He co-directs the UCSB-Purdue-Africa International University Tombos expedition to the third cataract of the Nile. In a new line of research, Smith applies a postcolonial critique to modern views of ancient Egypt as not truly African and Nubia as its subordinate. He served as Egyptological Consultant for the hit MGM movie ‘Stargate,’ recreating spoken ancient Egyptian for the film, and returned to Hollywood consulting for the Universal remake of ‘The Mummy,’ its sequel, ‘The Mummy Returns,’ and most recently for MGM’s 2018’s ‘Stargate Origins: Catherine.’

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