WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9
4:00 pm, 254 Barrows
"Inlays and Identities in Nubian Burials of the Classic Kerma Period"
Elizabeth Minor, University of California, Berkeley
The inlaid and appliquéd animal figures found on Classic Kerma grave goods provide a potential case study for the discussion of social imaginaries. During the Classic Kerma period (1700-1550 B.C.E.), the community at Kerma was in a state of rapid flux. The Nubian ruler undertook a program of offensive territorial expansion into formerly Egyptian controlled regions to the north. A wealth of Egyptian imports from these expeditions was brought back to Kerma and came to be owned by the ruler and elites alike. At the same time, local craftsmen began to incorporate Egyptian motifs into indigenous funerary art. The ivory inlays on funerary beds and mica appliqués on leather hats worn by the dead demonstrate this mix of local and foreign motifs. The fauna of the Nubian environment are found in the greatest numbers and variety, interspersed with symbolic Egyptian animals. Although the local mythology surrounding these iconic animals is unknown, trends in the motifs can be followed over four generations. Only an increasingly elite selection of the community were buried with these highly personalized burial goods, with each generation exploring new varieties and combinations of motifs. A closer investigation of the Kerman elite’s creative design process can give insight on how they imagined themselves, defining and refining their status in a volatile political milieu.