nl en

Archaeology of Nubia and the Sudan


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

Degree students (including Dutch BA graduates): BA degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.

SAP and Exchange Students: BA degree. Admission only after formal application.


This course will give a synthesis of the archaeology of Nubia and Sudan. The special interest of this region’s history and archaeology lies in its role as a zone of interaction between diverse cultural traditions linking sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt, the Mediterranean world, and beyond.
The exceptionally early development of large-scale polities in the Middle Nile also offers remarkable opportunities for exploring the archaeology of the development of political power as well as for exploring research topics of a wide significance, both within and beyond African archaeology, such as the development of agriculture, urbanism, and metallurgy. Attention will be given to the recent archeological results: until recently, the Kerma civilisation was known only from the town site and cemeteries of its metropolitan centre and smaller sites to the north, towards Egypt.
However, recent survey and excavation work has identified many new sites south of Kerma, many located on channels of the Nile, now dry, which lay to the east of the modern course of the river. This pattern of settlement indicates a substantial population and for the first time provides us with some sort of context in which we can place Kerma itself.
Survey work in advance of the Merowe (4th Cataract) Dam has confirmed the presence of Kerma sites at least as far upriver as the Abu Hamed/Mograt island area. The unique opportunities offered by the Nile corridor for trans-Saharan contacts have also ensured that the region’s archaeology provides an extraordinary scope for exploring the interplay and interaction of indigenous and external cultural traditions, often very obviously manifested in the material worlds of the region: from their encounters with Pharaonic Egypt to the incorporation of Nubian kingdoms into medieval Christendom.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of current research and key debates in the archaeology of Nubia and Sudan, as well as the manner in which these debates influence notions of African and Egyptian cultural heritage in the contemporary world;

  • Ability to give a critical evaluation of the archaeological literature relating to Nubia and Sudan, including site reports and material analysis as well as synthetic interpretations, thus providing a sound basis for original research;

  • Ability to critically assess current research and assigned literature and voice one’s well-argumented opinion;

  • Ability to choose a research topic, find relevant literature, apply current views on one’s own research topic, and ability to handle a stimulating discussion afterwards;

  • Ability to answer written questions demonstrating a solid knowledge of the archaeology of Nubia and the Sudan;

  • Research skills and ability to evaluate the findings of other scholars.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7 classes (1 ects);

  • 560 pages of literature (4 ects).


Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and individual assignments dealing with specific research questions and research items concerning the archaeology of Nubia and the Sudan. The research topics will be dealt with in the form of student class presentations, reading of books/articles, and a final written exam.

Assessment method

  • Written exam;

  • Active participation in class discussions;

  • Student class presentation;

  • Reading of assigned literature.

Assessment deadline

Exam dates can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

The reading list will be given to the participating students prior to the beginning of the course.


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact dr C. Greco.