November 5, 2018
"'Entangled Lives: Intercultural Interactions in the Nubian Borderlands"
Stuart Tyson Smith
University of California, Santa Barbara
November 7, 2018
1126 E. 59th Street
Anthropological theories of cultural interaction, in particular entanglement, can help shed light on how individual choices drove intercultural interaction between Egyptians and Nubians in the context of a colonial borderland. This talk explores how recent archaeological work in Nubia is breaking the simple Egyptian-Nubian dichotomy that has characterized previous discussions of interactions between the two African cultures. Taking their cue from Egyptian ideology, Egyptologists have often depicted Nubia as inferior, dominated both militarily and culturally by its northern neighbor. Similarly, the Third Intermediate Period in Nubia has been seen as a dark age, a boundary between civilization and a return to barbarism. This process of cultural and political regeneration in Nubia eventually led to the rise of the Nubian 25th Dynasty, whose pharaohs ruled Egypt for nearly a hundred years (c. 747-656 BCE). Recent archaeological work reflects a much more complex picture of intercultural interactions that were by no means unidirectional. Understanding this complicated transition requires a nuanced approach that avoids simple explanations based upon the deeds and pronouncements of kings in favor of an archaeological focus on the accumulation of subtle shifts in local interactions and the cultural and biological entanglements that led to regional change.