This project for ARCE forms the basis of a monograph that I have tentatively titled, Priestess, Queen, Goddess: The Divine Feminine in Nubia. The research will explore one component of a larger study of the religious history of Nubian women. I will seek to connect the C-Group women who danced in Hathoric rites during the Middle Kingdom to the long tradition of women from Nubia who performed rituals for the divine, for example: New Kingdom banquet musicians and dancers, Nubian women described in the Ptolemaic period temple of Medamud as celebrants accompanying Hathor, and the women who accompanied their families on annual pilgrimages to the temple of Philae in the Roman period as described in my 2020 publication Calling Out to Isis: The Enduring Nubian Presence in Philae.
As the Nubian C-Group was a nonliterate society, the only textual sources concerning them are written by outsiders to the culture. Therefore, my research will be based on artifacts and tomb and temple art or on Egyptian textual references. I will analyze the C-Group funerary artifacts recovered during the period of intense excavation of the salvage campaigns in Nubia (1907-12, 1929-34, and 1961-64) undertaken in response to UNESCO’s call to excavate Nubia before the completion of the Aswan High Dam. These excavations produced a rich cache of Nubian cultural artifacts from all periods of history. Funerary assemblages of C-Group women contain artifacts associated with the worship of Hathor. Objects such as cowrie shell girdles, sistra, faience and gold beads, female figurines, perforated leather skirts, and bronze mirrors when collated with the specific graves and cemeteries from which they were excavated may shed light on which Nubian populations were associated with the cult of Hathor, either locally or as performers/priestesses in Egypt.