Pagan burial practices in the medieval necropolis of Abu Erteila (Sudan)

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute of Oriental studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameVostok. Afro-Aziatskie obshchestva: istoriia i sovremennost
EditionIssue 5

Abu Erteila is a small rural settlement in the central Sudan located at the mouth of Wadi Hawad. Since 2009, specialists of the joint Russian-Italian mission have excavated Meroitic ruins to the west of the village. The archaeological site of Abu Erteila is located 5 km south of the royal necropolis at Begrawia and 7.5 km south of the Meroe Royal City. In the sixth century BCE – fourth century CE Meroe was the capital of the ancient Sudanese kingdom of Kush. The Meroitic kingdom actively traded with the Mediterranean world and competed with the Roman Empire for control over Egypt. In the first century CE a temple complex with an adjacent economic cluster was founded at Abu Erteila. In the third century CE the temple was abandoned and then considerably dismantled. In the post-Meroitic times squatters were still living on the territory of the ancient ruins. Later on, during the Middle Ages, the Meroitic ruins were turned into a necropolis. The excavated medieval necropolis of Abu Erteila demonstrates a mixture of Christian funerary traditions with pagan Meroitic and Post-Meroitic practices. The main goal of the article is overviewing these burial traditions and tracing their origins. 

KeywordsMeroe, Sudan, burial traditions, Christianity, paganism.
Publication date28.10.2018
Number of characters1734
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