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The Archaeology of Late Antique Sudan: Aesthetics and Identity in the Royal X-Group ...

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The Archaeology of Late Antique Sudan:


The Royal X-Group Tombs
at Qustul and Ballana


Seventy-eight years ago, in October 1931, two archaeologists, Walter Emery and Lawrence P. Kirwan, began an expedition up the Nile, travelling from Egypt into the Sudan. Just over a week later, they were surprised by the sight of a series of tumuli scattered across both banks of the river, of which they were previously unaware. After inquiring from the local people about the mounds’ origin, they were told that the tumuli at Qustul were the remains of the mounds of Goha, a legendary figure who had collected vast quantities of grain that were turned into earth by an evil spirit. Hearing that some of the mounds had been plundered, Emery and Kirwan began their excavations on the east bank of the Nile. By November 23, they had discovered the well-preserved bones of sacrificial horses, covered in silver trappings. Their subsequent excavations, which ended in 1934, revealed the rich and varied remains of the