Crocs Uncover

Bizarre Species

viernes, 31 de octubre de 2008

From the Crypt

Archaeologists recently discovered the tomb of an elaborately wrapped, tattooed woman at the top of El Brujo, a ceremonial Moche temple in northwestern Peru. Some experts think the 1,600-year-old mummy's special treatment could indicate she was a warrior queen, a significant break from the common belief that Moche leaders were all men.

The Egyptian tomb complex known as KV5 was built to house the remains of the many sons of Pharaoh Ramses II. Located in the Valley of the Kings, it contains more than 120 chambers and corridors, including the largest room of any tomb in the valley. Here, a skeleton, possibly one of Ramses' sons, lies in an excavated grave.

The pharaohs of Egypt supposedly imbued their ornate burial sites with deadly curses to dissuade would-be looters. For good measure, the Pharaoh Ti had a statue of himself erected in a special chamber to guard his sepulcher in Saqqara.

The walls of the tombs of Egypt's pharaohs were often covered with hieroglyphs that offered, among other things, instructions to the king for navigating the many dangers that lurked in the transit between death and paradise. Here, a man's flashlight illuminates wall writings in a passage in the tomb of Ramses II in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.

The Phoenicians are said to have regularly sacrificed children to appease the gods. These ritual killings and burials allegedly took place at stone sanctuaries called tophets, like this one discovered in the ruins of the colony of Carthage in Tunisia.

An elaborate homage to the dead—and a reminder of mortality to the living—adorns a crypt under Santa Maria della Concezione church in Rome. These macabre ornamentations, constructed from the bones of 4,000 deceased Capuchin friars, “make the people who stacked the bones in Paris’s catacombs look like amateurs,” according to one observer.

Neatly arranged bones sit within a crypt beneath a church in Rome. Burial chambers beneath the Eternal City house the remains of tens of thousands of deceased citizens. One 16th-century church, Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte, used its catacombs to provide proper burials for the poor, taking in some 8,000 bodies over a 300-year period.

More than 400 years ago, the monks at the Capuchin monastery in Palermo, Sicily, discovered that deceased friars interred in catacombs underwent natural mummification. Word got out, and the order began allowing ordinary citizens to be buried there as well. Now, visitors can see thousands of preserved corpses, most wearing the tattered remains of their finest garments, arranged in the macabre museum's narrow halls.

The skulls and bones of some 4,000 Capuchin monks, some of whom died nearly five centuries ago, adorn a six-room crypt beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione in Rome. More than a mere burial chamber, the friars have arranged the remains of their brethren into bizarre death art, including chandeliers, archways, and wall decorations.

"Spider God" Temple Found in Peru

A 3,000-year-old temple featuring an image of a spider god may hold clues to little-known cultures in ancient Peru. People of the Cupisnique culture, which thrived from roughly 1500 to 1000 B.C., built the temple in the Lambayeque valley on Peru's north coast.

The adobe temple, found this summer and called Collud, is the third discovered in the area in recent years. (Watch a video of the spider-god temple.)

The finds suggest that the three valley sites may have been part of a large capital for divine worship, said archaeologist Walter Alva, director of the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum.

Alva and colleagues started the dig in November 2007, when they discovered a 4,000-year-old temple and a mural painting at the Ventarrón site in the valley. Both the temple and mural were the oldest ever found in the Americas.

The entire religious complex houses every ancient Peruvian architectural style up to the Inca, Walter Alva said, one of only a few sites in Peru that spans so many cultures.

Several Meanings

The spider-god image appears often in other sites created during Peru's Early Formative Period, 1200 to 400 B.C.

For instance, the Garagay temple in Lima and the Limón Carro site in northern Peru both include the imagery, according to Ignacio Alva, Walter Alva's son and colleague.

At the newfound Collud, the spider god carried several meanings, experts say.

The image combines a spider's neck and head, the mouth of a large cat, and a bird's beak, Ignacio Alva said.

"Spider God" Temple Found in Peru<< Back to Page 1 Page 2 of 2
The spider is also carved with lines radiating from its neck, creating a web-like appearance.

The web symbolizes hunting nets, a sign of human progress and prosperity, Ignacio Alva said. Traps set with nets caught more prey than spear hunting, he added.
The spider figure also had political significance, Ignacio Alva said. "Any emergent political group would have to be associated with this god."

Richard Burger, an expert on the Chavin culture that followed the Cupisnique, first identified the spider deity in stone bowls found at the Limón Carro site.

The importance of spiders owed partly to their connection with life-giving rain, he said.

"They were associated with divination of rainfall because spiders come out before rain," said Burger, an archaeologist at Yale University who was not involved with the Lambayeque excavation.

The spider deity was also associated with textiles, hunting, war, and power, Burger added. "There is an image of spider deities holding nets filled with decapitated human heads, so there was an analogy with successful warriors and claims of power."

(Related: 80 Ancient 'Cloud Warrior' Skeletons Found in Peru Fort" [September 26, 2007].)

Intense Interaction

The Chavin people who came after the Cupisnique built a temple adjacent to Collud, Zarpan, about three hundred years later.

The new temple finds may help explain a cultural shift from Cupisnique to Chavin, said team leader Walter Alva.

"Cupisnique and Chavin shared the same gods and the same architectural and artistic forms, showing intense religious interaction among the cultures of the [Early] Formative Period from the north coast to the Andes and down to the central Andes," he said.

The temples are similar in size, roughly 1,640 feet (500 meters) long and 984 feet (300 meters) wide.

Collud has a monumental clay staircase with 25 steps, perhaps the inspiration for the later Zarpan temple's clay staircase, Ignacio Alva said.

The Chavin did not build clay structures in the Andes, where significant rainfall threatened their stability. (See Andes photos.)

But clay structures were typical of the Cupisnique culture, which developed on the arid north coast.

It's unknown how the two cultures interacted, if at all, experts say.

"This place is the testimony of two cultures overlapping and will help clarify what is Cupisnique and what is Chavin," Walter Alva said.

Mystery Decline

Pieces of structures found at the site may lead to the discovery of a fourth or fifth temple, according to the team.

(See photos of an ancient "fire temple" found in Peru.)

Yale's Burger wonders if the ongoing excavations will demonstrate what happened to the site as north-coast cultures declined between 900 and 700 B.C.

"The far north coast in earlier times was very important, but it has been largely ignored because there's so little information," Burger said. "This could change that."

"Does this center continue to be important or does it collapse?" he asked. "Does the Cupisnique continue to flourish independently or in close contact with the Chavin?"

Ignacio Alva predicts the site will show that the temple complex transformed itself, but did not collapse.

miércoles, 29 de octubre de 2008

Egypt: The Case of King/Queen Hatshepsut

AUB's new president, Peter Dorman, who is also a professor of archeology and an expert on ancient Egypt, gave a presentation on October 22 about Hatshepsut, the only woman to reign as a male pharaoh over Ancient Egypt.

Organized by the Society of the Friends of the AUB Museum and held at the AUB Archeological Museum, the illustrated lecture was titled "Gender Trouble in Ancient Egypt: The Case of King/Queen Hatshepsut.” It attracted a large audience which included Lebanon's Minister of Culture HE Tammam Salam and his wife, AUB Trustee Farouk Jabre, and AUB Acting Provost Wadah Nasr.

Whileintroducing President Dorman, Nora Jumblat, the president of the Society of Friends of the AUB Museum, overviewed Dorman’s biography and academic career, emphasizing his specialty in Ancient Egyptian history and archaeology.
In his talk, Dorman highlighted the uniqueness of the reign of Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut who assumed the role of male king of ancient Egypt, through her garb and title, as depicted in the hieroglyphs contemporary to her time of rule. Hatshepsut is the fifth 'pharaoh' of the eighteenth dynasty (1500 BC) of Ancient Egypt and wife of Thutmose II—also Hatshepsut’s half-brother—who died a few years after becoming king without a direct heir to the throne. Thutmose III, Hatshepsut's stepson and nephew, was too young to assume kingship at the time. As a result, Hatshepsut claimed power as queen regent, and then usurped it, by claiming to be the legitimate heir, by virtue of being the daughter of a king. Seven years into her rule, she also assumed the role of male king.

"Hatshepsut holds a unique place in ancient Egyptian history since she is the only woman to rule in the guise of a male ruler," said President Dorman. While surveying the circumstances that led to her becoming queen then assuming legitimacy for rightful heir for kingship, Dorman supported his observations with archaeological evidence - mostly derived from her funerary temple in Dayr Al-Bahri on the banks of the Nile -- that showed the evolution of her role from queen to king.
"Hatshepsut no longer claimed legality for being wife of a deceased king; rather, by being the eldest surviving heir to the throne, and tracing legitimacy to her father in life and death," said Dorman.

In conclusion, Dorman noted that Hatshepsut’s images were intentionally and meticulously desecrated and destroyed after her death by Thutmose III, and experimented with possible reasons for this fact.

"Hatshepsut may have been forgotten, but with research we have been able to recover important aspects of her life," said Dorman.
President Dorman is an international leader in the study of the ancient near east, and in particular the field of Egyptology, in which he is a noted historiographer, epigrapher and philologist.

He is the author and editor of several major books and many articles on the study of ancient Egypt and is probably best known for his historical work on the reign of Hatshepsut and the Amarna period. His most recent monograph, Faces in Clay: Technique, Imagery, and Allusion in a Corpus of Ceramic Sculpture from Ancient Egypt (2002), examines artisanal craftsmanship in light of material culture, iconography, and religious texts. In 2007, he and Betsy M. Bryan of The Johns Hopkins University came out with an edited volume titled Sacred Space and Sacred Function in Ancient Thebes.

Since 2002 he has chaired with great success the distinguished Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at one of the world's top research universities, the University of Chicago. Prior to that, he spent nine years (1988-1997) heading the epigraphic efforts at Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt. >From 1977 to 1988, he worked in curatorial positions in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Remains of pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut identified

CAIRO (AP) — The mummy of an obese woman, who likely suffered from diabetes and liver cancer, has been identified as that of Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt's most powerful female pharaoh, Egyptian archaeologists said Wednesday.
Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt in the 15th century B.C., was known for dressing like a man and wearing a false beard. But when her rule ended, all traces of her mysteriously disappeared, including her mummy.

Discovered in 1903 in the Valley of the Kings, the mummy was left on site until two months ago, when it was brought to the Cairo Museum for testing, Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said.

DNA bone samples taken from the mummy's pelvic bone and femur are being compared to the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut's grandmother, Amos Nefreteri, said molecular geneticist Yehia Zakaria Gad, who was part of Hawass' team.

The mummy identified as Hatshepsut shows an obese woman, who died in her 50s, probably had diabetes and is also believed to have had liver cancer, Hawass said. Her left hand is positioned against her chest, in a traditional sign of royalty in ancient Egypt.

The discovery, announced Wednesday at the museum in Cairo, has not been independently reviewed by other experts.

While scientists are still matching those mitochondrial DNA sequences, Gad said preliminary results were "very encouraging."

Hawass also said that a molar found in a jar with some of the queen's embalmed organs perfectly matched the mummy.

"We are 100% certain" the mummy is that of Hatshepsut, Hawass told The Associated Press.

Hawass has led the search for Hatshepsut since a year ago, setting up a DNA lab in the basement of the Cairo Museum with an international team of scientists. The study was funded by the Discovery channel, which is to broadcast an exclusive documentary on it in July.

Molecular biologist Scott Woodward, director of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation in Salt Lake City, was cautious ahead of Wednesday's announcement.

"It's a very difficult process to obtain DNA from a mummy," said Woodward, who has done such research. "To make a claim as to a relationship, you need other individuals from which you have obtained DNA, to make a comparison between the DNA sequences."

Such DNA material would typically come from parents or grandparents. With female mummies, the most common type of DNA to look for is the mitochondrial DNA that reveals maternal lineage, Woodward said.

"What possible other mummies are out there, they would have to be related to Hatshepsut," he said. "It's a difficult process, but the recovery of DNA from 18th Dynasty mummies is certainly possible."

Molecular biologist Paul Evans of the Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, said the discovery could indeed be remarkable.

"Hatshepsut is an individual who has a unique place in Egypt's history. To have her identified is on the same magnitude as King Tut's discovery," Evans told the AP by phone from Utah.

Hatshepsut is believed to have stolen the throne from her young stepson, Thutmose III. Her rule of about 21 years was the longest among ancient Egyptian queens, ending in 1453 B.C.

Hatshepsut's funerary temple is located in ancient Thebes, on the west bank of the Nile in today's Luxor, a multi-collonaded sandstone temple built to serve as tribute to her power. Surrounding it are the Valley of Kings and the Valley of the Queens, the burial places of Egypt's pharaohs and their wives.

But after Hatshepsut's death, her name was obliterated from the records in what is believed to have been her stepson's revenge.

She was one of the most prolific builder pharaohs of ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of projects throughout both Upper and Lower Egypt. Almost every major museum in the world today has a collection of Hatshepsut statuary.

British archaeologist Howard Carter worked on excavating Hatshepsut's tomb before discovering the tomb of the boy-king, Tutankhamun, whose treasure of gold has become a symbol of ancient Egypt's splendor.

Inca Elite Imported Diverse "Staff" to Run Machu Picchu

José Orozco

Inca nobility at Machu Picchu relied on special, permanent servants from the far corners of the empire to manage the royal estate, according to a new study of human skeletons found buried at the site.

Machu Picchu sits high in the Peruvian Andes about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of the former Inca capital of Cusco (see map).
Royal retainers, known as yanacona, may have been brought to the site from as far away as South America's Pacific Coast, the northern highlands, and the area around Lake Titicaca near Peru's border with Bolivia, the study says.

Determining the geographic origins of yanacona may help researchers better understand how the Inca practice of paying tributes with labor helped shape the empire's social classes.

For some people this work was temporary, but for yanacona it meant leaving home and family behind forever, noted lead study author Bethany Turner, an anthropologist at Georgia State University.

Yanacona candidates probably had little room for negotiation, Turner added.

"It was not necessarily forced, but you wouldn't turn it down lightly," she said.

Bustling City

The Inca Empire lasted from roughly 1430 to 1532, when the Spanish reached Peru, Turner said.

The empire stretched from present-day southern Colombia to what is now central Chile, and the Inca largely allowed their subjects to maintain their languages and cultural traditions.

Many scientists believe the city of Machu Picchu, which was occupied starting around 1450, was built on orders from Inca ruler Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui to serve as a government palace and administrative center.

While nobility were not permanent residents at the estate, visitors would probably have seen a city buzzing with the activity of yanacona, Turner said.

Guillermo Cock, an Andean expert based in Lima who was not involved in the new study, said that taking yanacona from diverse regions probably helped Inca rulers break ties of allegiance between villagers and their local authorities.

"The greater the distance, the greater the rupture between the yanacona and their lords and the greater their dependence on their Inca authority," Cock said.

But evidence suggests the yanacona were treated with honor and privileges to help soften the blow and create new loyalties, he said.

For example, the retainers were given gifts such as textiles and agricultural lands, and their bones showed no signs of hard physical labor.

The servants likely performed agricultural work, administrative jobs, served in defense, and generally maintained the site, study author Turner said.

Machu Picchu seems to have been abandoned after the Spanish conquest, and it was apparently ignored by the invaders. Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham brought Machu Picchu to worldwide attention after local Indians led him to the site in 1911.

During the initial excavations of the site in 1912 and 1913, archaeologists found three cemeteries containing 177 bodies.

Later analysis of the graves and objects found with the bodies suggests the people buried there were not elite, leading experts to theorize that they were yanacona.

(Related: "Rare Mass Tombs Discovered Near Machu Picchu" [September 15, 2008].)

For the new study, Turner and colleagues looked at ratios of oxygen, strontium, and lead isotopes in the teeth of 74 individuals from those graves.

The team looked for the isotopes in tooth layers that develop when a person is three to four years old.

Comparing those results with analyses of food and water sources near Machu Picchu helped determine whether the people were native to the area or were likely immigrants.

The analysis shows "widely different backgrounds in where [the people] lived and what their diets were," Turner said, although she cautions that her team's study is just an initial attempt at uncovering the yanacona's origins.

She and colleagues will publish their work in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Efficient Labor

Cock, the Andean expert, said that as permanent servants, yanacona were extremely useful to the Inca Empire.

If the Inca needed a labor force, they could just pick from the yanacona instead of requesting new temporary workers from communities under their power.

"The yanacona … gave them direct access to labor, making it a much more efficient system," Cock said.

In fact, the state's success owed a great deal to the yanacona, said Fernando Astete, director of the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park.

"Without the work of yanacona, the Inca state would never have developed," Astete said. "Their work was the foundation of Inca productivity."

martes, 28 de octubre de 2008

New Moon Rover Mixes Old-School Smarts With Latest Tech

Victoria Jaggard

With six-wheel drive, active suspension, and computerized navigation, a new battery-powered truck being field tested this week in Arizona sounds like the next generation of sport-utility vehicles
But when the final model rolls out in 2019, only an exclusive group of highly trained professionals will get to drive it—the next astronauts to land on the moon.

The new lunar rover, informally known as the Chariot, is a prototype being developed as part of NASA's Constellation program, which aims to put people back on the moon by 2020.

The current version combines 35 years of technological advances with lessons learned from the original "moon buggies" used during the Apollo missions of the 1970s.

One of the biggest modifications is an optional pressurized cabin that comes fully equipped with beds, a pantry, a waste-management system, and a pair of space suits, allowing astronauts to live and work "on the road" for up to two weeks.

"It's important to keep the crew happy," noted Mike Gernhardt, a veteran NASA astronaut who is helping design the Chariot at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

"As long as the food's good and the seats are comfortable, you can put up with a lot."

Moon Buggy

NASA sent up its first lunar roving vehicle—an open, four-wheeled buggy—as part of the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.

Roving crew members collected a variety of samples to bring back to Earth, including the Genesis rock, a chunk of the lunar crust believed to date back four billion years to the birth of the moon.

NASA ultimately sent four rovers to the moon during the Apollo program, and the hardy vehicles were generally hailed as successes.
But some aspects of the buggies' design proved to be less than ideal.

For example, a T-shaped stick in between the seats was the only steering control. Like an Atari joystick, the system was simple and intuitive: Push forward to go forward, backward to brake, and left or right to turn.
The placement, however, was a tight fit for astronauts in their bulky space suits. (See related photos of a skintight next-generation space suit designed at MIT.)

"Every time Charlie bumped my arm, I moved the steering wheel," said John Young, a retired NASA astronaut who, with colleague Charles Duke, drove a lunar rover during Apollo 16 in 1972.

Also, the rover's range was limited by its two nonrechargeable 36-volt batteries.

"You can't run out of electricity on the moon, that would be a killer," Young said. The farthest any of the four buggies ever got from the lunar module was 4.7 miles (7.6 kilometers).

In addition, the buggy became unstable near its top speed of 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) an hour, noted Robert Ambrose, NASA's lead engineer for mobility of the new lunar rover.

"It started doing something called 'porpoising' and they sorta lost control of it," Ambrose said, referring to the older vehicle's tendency to bounce and tilt wildly.

Does It Come With Leather Seats?

Ambrose and other engineers have been designing the new rover in part based on tips from Apollo astronauts.

To overcome the porpoising problem, for instance, the Chariot has a longer wheelbase and is outfitted with the same automatic stability control used to keep today's sport-utility vehicles from rolling over.

Steering is controlled by a computerized navigation system, and all six wheels can turn in any direction or be individually lifted for greater maneuverability.

The craft also has two gears—first gear tops out at 3 miles (5 kilometers) an hour, while second gear can safely reach 12 miles (20 kilometers) an hour.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries allow the craft to venture up to 62 miles (100 kilometers) and back before needing a pit stop at a solar-power station.

One of the more unusual innovations is a pair of slip-on space suits attached to the back of the pressurized cabin.

Rather than taking up room with a full-size airlock, a "plainclothes" astronaut simply slides into an empty suit, pulls a lever to close the hatch and detach, and walks away.

The process can then be done in reverse to re-enter the cabin.

"This is a totally different way of doing business in spacewalking," Ambrose said.

Road Test

The rover will need to pass several rounds of technical tests and budget reviews between now and 2019 before the design is finalized.

The entire Constellation program, which is slated to cost U.S. $104 billion, has already hit a few roadblocks, including a one-year delay for the first crewed test flight of the launch vehicle and lander, originally slated for 2013.

It also remains to be seen what a new U.S. president will mean for the project.

Last year Senator Barack Obama's campaign announced plans for an $18-billion-a-year education reform that would be paid for, in part, by delaying Constellation for five years.

And while Senator John McCain's campaign says that he has supported funding for a return to the moon, the presidential hopeful recently said he would reduce the federal deficit by freezing for a year all discretionary funding—NASA included.

For now the space agency is holding firm to its 2020 deadline, and projects like the lunar rover are continuing forward with safety and durability as top concerns.

"It'll probably be two or three iterations of design [before] we're going to have it nailed well enough to ask astronauts to risk their lives," Ambrose said.

The field tests underway this weekend will give an astronaut and a geologist a chance to take the current version of the Chariot for a day-long spin in the Arizona desert, simulating the rocky, dusty conditions they would encounter on the moon.

In addition to testing the rover's technology, the road trip will give its passengers a chance to rate the vehicle for comfort—a major safety concern.

"I'm no sociologist," Ambrose said, "but I imagine that if you're cramped and uncomfortable, you're not going to be a very good driver."

lunes, 27 de octubre de 2008

Sunlike Star Vibrations Seen for First Time

Anne Minard

A first look at the surfaces of three nearby stars shows that the hot bodies are vibrating faster than our sun and have smoother exteriors, according to new research.

The work could help astronomers get a better picture of minute changes in stellar vibrations, which would improve our understanding of how sunlike stars operate inside.
Also, knowing more about subtle changes in the surfaces of other stars can help scientists better predict sun storms, which can damage orbiting satellites and interrupt power lines on Earth.

Studies of the sun's vibrations, or helio-seismology, have been yielding clues about our star's interior structure for decades. (Related: "Sun Gets Fatter 'Waist' During Magnetic Peaks" [October 2, 2008].)

Granulation, or bubbling, of the stellar surface can reveal how heat is being transported through the uppermost layers of gas.

But until recently, vibrations and surface features in more distant stars have been too hard to detect, so scientists have relied on computer simulations based on data from the sun.

"In the last few years, observers have started to see acoustic spectra from solar-type stars that are comparable in quality to what was seen in the sun nearly 30 years ago," said Rachel Howe, a scientist at the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, who was not involved with the new study.

"These measurements will allow observers to probe the rotation and other properties of stars that are similar to our sun but of different sizes and ages."

Lead study author Eric Michel, a stellar physicist with France's National Center for Scientific Research, said his team's data should help refine previous computer predictions.

"The phenomena we observe are of the order of what we expected, and we will be able to measure them with precision," Michel said via email. "We are now looking into the stars!"

Margin of Error

All three stars observed for the new study are within 200 light-years of Earth. They are similar to the sun but are hotter and slightly more massive.

Using France's Convection Rotation and Planetary Transits (CoRoT) space telescope, Michel and a bevy of colleagues from Europe and South America measured the stars' light output over a 60-day period.

CoRoT reads stellar vibrations as changes in brightness.
The team found that the three stars have vibrations that are 50 percent more energetic than the sun's.

The stars also have surface granulations about three times finer than the sun's.

The observed oscillations are close to what astronomers predicted based on computer models, but are about 25 percent weaker than expected.

"This is not so bad and even gratifying," Michel said, adding that the results fall within the margins of uncertainty built into the models.

The data are described in this week's issue of the journal Science.

The study authors add that the results would not have been possible using observatories on the ground, because Earth's atmosphere obscures minute variations in starlight.

For them, the new data illustrate the importance of continued space-based observations.

(See the first 3-D images of the sun taken in 2007 by a pair of orbiting telescopes.)

Michael Montgomery, a stellar physicist at the University of Texas in Austin, wrote a commentary on the new study that also appears this week in Science.

"This [paper]," he said, "bodes well for the future of space-based seismology programs while simultaneously challenging us to refine our models of these stars."

Drugs Found in Hair of Ancient Andean Mummies

Charles Q. Choi

The first hard evidence of psychoactive drug use in the ancient Andes has been discovered in mummies' hair, a new study says.

The finding confirms that predecessors of the Inca known as the Tiwanaku used mind-altering substances, and hints that the civilization relied on far-reaching trade networks to obtain the drugs.

Scientists recently analyzed 32 naturally mummified Tiwanaku bodies discovered in northern Chile's Azapa Valley, which lies in the Atacama Desert.

The researchers discovered a compound called harmine in hairs from an adult male and a one-year-old baby, who both date to sometime between A.D. 800 and 1200. Harmine can help humans absorb hallucinogens and may be a powerful antidepressant.

"These individuals probably ingested harmine in therapeutic or medicinal practices, some maybe related to pregnancy and childbirth," said study co-author Juan Pablo Ogalde, a chemical archaeologist at the University of Tarapacá in Arica, Chile.

"However, it is possible also that consumption of harmine was involved in religious rituals, said Ogalde, whose research appeared online October 14 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

X-rays showed that the adult male—who was buried with items of social prestige such as panpipes, a four-pointed hat, and a snuffing tray—had damage near the nose, perhaps from sniffing.

As for the baby, Ogalde speculated that the mother had consumed the drug and passed it on to her offspring during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

"The fact this mind-altering substance was found even with a one-year-old shows how much a part of their life it was," said archaeologist Alexei Vranich of the University of California, Los Angeles, who did not participate in the study.

Habitual Users

The empire of the Tiwanaku once ranged from what is now northern Chile to southern Peru. (See a map of South America.) Between roughly A.D. 500 and 1000, they expanded from their origins on the Bolivian shores of Lake Titicaca via religious control and military might.

Elaborately decorated snuffing kits have been found in hundreds of Tiwanaku tombs. Archaeologists think these trays and tubes were used to inhale herbs, perhaps ceremonially.

Some snuff kits have been found bearing powder from the vilca tree, whose seeds are rich in hallucinogens. Also, X-rays of Tiwanaku skulls have in many cases revealed nasal damage that was likely caused by frequent sniffing.

The incorporation of snuffing imagery into Tiwanaku ceramics, woodwork, stonework, and textiles have been seen to suggest that snuffing rituals played an important role in Tiwanaku culture.

Still, no traces of hallucinogens had been found in Tiwanaku mummies until now, perhaps because the compounds broken down over time.

Drug Trade

The only plant in South America known to contain harmine is the jungle vine Banisteriopsis caapi, which is used by modern-day Amazonian natives to help make an infusion known as ayahuasca for shamanic rituals. (Read more about ayahuasca.)

This rain forest plant does not grow along the Atacama coast, suggesting extensive trade networks that brought the vine from as far as the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon is roughly 300 miles (500 kilometers) from the Azapa Valley, study co-author Ogalde said.

"A lot of people had suggested contact across the Amazon and the Atacama desert, and it's nice to have more hard data for that theory," said UCLA's Vranich.

The Tiwanaku may have actively searched for exotic hallucinogens to draw others to their culture, Vranich said.

"One of the sources of the mystique of the Tiwanaku—one of the reasons a lot of people may have subscribed to their religion—would have been such a mind-altering substance," he explained.

"It would have been a tremendous draw, especially when the rest of normal life in the rural Andes during that period would have been comparatively quite mundane and dull."

jueves, 23 de octubre de 2008

Britain's Oldest Toy Found Buried with Stonehenge Baby?

James Owen in London

A carved animal figurine found buried alongside a prehistoric baby at Stonehenge may represent Britain's earliest known toy, researchers say.
The unique chalk relic of a hedgehog or pig, thought to be at least 2,000 years old, was unearthed in September near the stone monument on southern England's Salisbury Plain.

"Whether it's a hedgehog or a pig you can argue about, but I like the hedgehog idea myself," said the dig's co-leader, Joshua Pollard of the University of Bristol.
The Bronze Age figurine was likely made as a toy or in memory of the baby being stillborn or dying in infancy, the archaeologist said.

The discovery was made during the Stonehenge Riverside Project, a seven-year archaeological investigation of the Stonehenge area supported by the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration. The burial was uncovered during the excavation of an ancient palisade—or timber wall—and ditch, both of which are thought to have stretched eastward from the megalithic circle.
Archaeologists have speculated that the estimated 6-meter-tall (19.5-foot-tall) timber structure served as a boundary fence to Stonehenge.

"We thought it might be related to the stone [portions] of the monument, but in fact it turned out to be a much later feature," Pollard said.

Very Rare Find
Evidence of toys during this period in British history is "extremely scant," Pollard said. "In fact, it's very rare to find any kind of representational art in British prehistory—almost to the extent where you get the impression there's a bit of a taboo on making images of animals or people."
The young child's grave, tentatively dated to between 800 B.C. to 20 B.C., included a pottery vessel, which may have contained food intended for the child's journey to the afterlife, the team said. The excavation of the palisade also revealed the body of a second infant and the skeleton of a sheep or goat.
A pile of stones had been placed over the animal's head, indicating a sacrificial burial, Pollard said.

While it's possible the two infants were human sacrifices, more than likely they died naturally, he said.
"You're dealing with a period when infant mortality was very high, so there would have been a lot of natural death," Pollard added.
The newfound artifact "is, as far as we know, without parallel," according to Stonehenge expert Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology magazine.
Pitts agrees that it appears to have been "made for a child as a personal toy."
However he strongly disagrees with those who say it depicts a hedgehog.
"I would say it's without doubt a pig," said Pitts, who noted that both domestic and wild pigs were widespread in the region at the time.
Later, from the start of the Iron Age in Britain, between 700 and 800 B.C., animal figurines become relatively commonplace, Pitts added.

"And once we get into historical times, we know the pig is quite important in Celtic mythology, though not—to my knowledge—hedgehogs," he said.

Stonehenge Fence?

Initial results indicate the palisade—of which only a short timber section was found—was constructed 1,000 to 1,500 years after Stonehenge's famed stone circle. The ditch appears to form part of a longer boundary system that runs for about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers), dig co-leader Pollard said.
The new findings hint that Stonehenge was still in use as a religious site until much later than previously suspected.
"The monument is in a reserved part of the landscape that was probably being regarded with a degree of veneration or significance," Pollard said.

"It's telling us something about the attitude of later communities to the presence of what by that stage would have been quite an ancient monument," he added.
But Pitts of British Archaeology said that the new dating evidence suggests the palisade and ditch may have little connection to Stonehenge.
"It may actually have more to do with a network of new land-boundary divisions that spread across Salisbury Plain, in common with much of southern England in the Bronze Age after Stonehenge was going out of active use," Pitts said.

People and animals were often buried in such ditches, he said.
"For example, we have a number of curious burials of cattle and horse heads and parts like that in ditches elsewhere on Salisbury Plain. It may be part of the way in which boundaries are marked as land is being parceled up into different units."

Tape measure: X-rays detected from Scotch tape

By MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer Malcolm Ritter, Ap Science Writer – Wed Oct 22,


This undated composite image provided by the UCLA Laboratory of Low Temperatures and Acoustics,

NEW YORK – Just two weeks after a Nobel Prize highlighted theoretical work on subatomic particles, physicists are announcing a startling discovery about a much more familiar form of matter: Scotch tape. It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers.
Who knew? Actually, more than 50 years ago, some Russian scientists reported evidence of X-rays from peeling sticky tape off glass. But the new work demonstrates that you can get a lot of X-rays, a study co-author says.
"We were very surprised," said Juan Escobar. "The power you could get from just peeling tape was enormous."

Escobar, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, reports the work with UCLA colleagues in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
He suggests that with some refinements, the process might be harnessed for making inexpensive X-ray machines for paramedics or for places where electricity is expensive or hard to get. After all, you could peel tape or do something similar in such machines with just human

miércoles, 22 de octubre de 2008

Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

The Xe Bang Fai River cave's gaping downstream entrance was used as a daily staging point for the February 2008 trip, funded by the National Geographic Society's Expeditions Council.

The cave has two known entrancesone upstream and one downstream.

The exploration team spent ten days surveying and photographing the cave, communicating in the darkness by walkie-talkie, and traveling by lightweight, inflatable kayaks.

The adventurers' longest day in the cave lasted 17 hours

The Xe Bang Fai River cave is crowded with outsize features.

First traversed on a bamboo raft by a French explorer in 1905, the cave, known locally as Tham Khoun Xe and occasionally visited by tourists, went unstudied for 90 years as war and political turmoil in Laos kept researchers out of the Southeast Asian country.

A French team returned briefly in 1995, but little useful data was gleaned. Caver John Pollack staged his first expedition to the site in 2006

A spelunker is dwarfed by draperies made of calcite deposits about two miles (three kilometers) from the Xe Bang Fai River cave's downstream entrance.

Caver John Pollack's 2008 team consisted of four Canadian and four American researchers aided by several Laotian guides and assistants.

The expedition's photographer Dave Bunnell shuttled mounds of photographic equipment into the caves.

"He'd spend all day setting up flashes and strobes, sometimes shooting the same shot 18, 20 times over," Pollack said.

Calcium carbonate formations (above) called gour or rimstone pools, form in the rainy season as water seeps in and collects in ponds, over time leaving complex deposits.

Explorer John Pollack's team found cube-shaped "cave pearls" in some of the cave's gour formations that were up to 12.6 inches (32 centimeters) in circumference–potentially a world record, he said.

Pollack's team chose February, the middle of Laos's dry season, for its 2008 expedition to the Xe Bang Fai River cave.

Still river levels reached 12.8 cubic yards (9.8 cubic meters) per second.

During the August-September monsoon, the Xe Bang Fai River roars through the cave at up to 1,300 cubic yards (1,000 cubic meters) per second

Cave explorers nicknamed this large room "the Cathedral" for its high, vaulted ceiling.

Explorer John Pollack calls the Xe Bang Fai River cave "an underground K2," which, based on the volume of water that passes through the cave and the size of its passages, is likely one of the largest river caves on Earth.

Expedition co-leader Bob Osburn is producing a highly detailed map of the cavern, and Pollack expects an article on the team's discoveries to appear in the journal of the National Speleological Society in 2009

October 20, 2008–A cave explorer stands before an imposing stalagmite–made of mineral deposits–near an entrance to the Xe Bang Fai River cave in central Laos.

An expedition in February 2008, co-led by veteran caver John Pollack, comprehensively mapped and photographed the 5.9-mile (9.5-kilometer) length of the little-known cavern for the first time.

The spelunking team encountered some of the largest rooms and most impressive structures of any river cave on Earth, Pollack said.

A river cave is any cave with an active water source flowing through it.

Everything about the cave is big–from its towering entrances to its phobia-inducing spiders, which can be 10 inches (25 centimeters) across, Pollack added.

"It's also extremely well decorated with spectacular formations," Pollack said.

Half-Hot, Half-Cold Planets Have Supersonic Jet Streams

Anne Minard

Jupiter-like exoplanets—planets outside our solar system—have supersonic jet streams that transport heat from their sunny side to their dark side, a new study says.

These gas giants orbit extremely close to nearby stars.
'Hot Jupiters' Could Give Rise to Earthlike Worlds, Study Says (September 7, 2006)
"Because these planets are so close to their stars, we think they're tidally locked, with one side permanently in starlight and the other side permanently in darkness," said lead study author Adam Showman, a planetary scientist of the University of Arizona.

"So, if there were no winds, the dayside [the side of a planet in sunlight] would be extremely hot, and the nightside would be extremely cold."

But when the winds pick up, they bring scorching heat—sometimes even on the cool side—that's hotter than anything seen in our own solar system.

The exoplanets "are pretty crazy places. Expect supersonic winds and dayside temperatures hot enough to melt lead and rocks," Showman said in a statement.

The work was presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences, and will appear in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Extreme Heat

Showman and colleagues combined Spitzer and Hubble space telescope observations with computer models to puzzle together weather and climate patterns on the gas giants.

About 300 Jupiter-like planets have been discovered around stars, and, in most cases, astronomers know their masses and orbits.

For a handful of the brightest planets, space-based telescopes such as Spitzer have sent back images that reveal surface temperatures.

Those images are revealing "alien" climate regimes, researchers say.

"These planets are 20 times closer to their star than Earth is to the sun, and so they are truly blasted by starlight," Showman said.

'Hot Jupiters' Could Give Rise to Earthlike Worlds, Study Says
Their dayside temperatures reach up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,648 degrees Celsius).

Fierce Winds

But one planet is tipping researchers off to a different point of view.

The planet HD 189733b is 63 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Vulpecula.

Its star, HD 189733, is visible with binoculars from Earth, but only the most powerful space telescopes can see the planet.

Here, the nightside temperature exceeds 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit (704 degrees Celsius).

Researchers had proposed that winds carry heat from the dayside to the nightside and warm it up—but were unable to explain how.

Showman and colleagues performed computer simulations that, for the first time, coupled weather activity with a realistic representation for how starlight is absorbed and how heat is lost to space.

The models suggest that to carry the heat the planet must have jet streams with speeds reaching 7,000 miles (11,265 kilometers) per hour.

"You're talking about winds fast enough to carry you in a hot air balloon from San Francisco to New York in 25 minutes," Showman said.

The computers predict that the winds move predominantly from west to east, pushing the heat away from the region that's receiving the most starlight.

"According to the observations, the hottest region on the planet is not 'high noon' but eastward of that by maybe 30 degrees of longitude," Showman said.

"Our simulations are the first to explain why that phenomenon occurs."

Still Learning

Weather studies on exoplanets are constantly evolving, said Alfred Vidal-Madjar, an astrophysicist at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris in France who was not involved with the new study.

"Everyone knows [it] is certainly not the final word," he said.
Vidal-Madjar said true tests of the models will come from studies of exoplanet atmospheres, particularly when they pass in front of their parent stars and become backlit relative to Earth- or space-based telescopes.

David Charbonneau, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is a co-author on the new paper.

He said it's remarkable "that we are actually able to study the weather patterns on planets orbiting other stars.

"In that sense, they are beginning to feel much more like the planets of [our] solar system, with distinct personalities that we have come to know and love over time."

martes, 21 de octubre de 2008

Lighthouse of Alexandria

Lighthouse of Alexandria (was a tower built in the 3rd century BC (between 285 and 247 BC) on the island of Pharos in Alexandria, Egypt to serve as that port's landmark, and later, its lighthouse.

With a height variously estimated at between 115 and 150 m (380 and 490 ft) it was among the tallest man-made structures on Earth for many centuries, and was identified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Antipater of Sidon. It may have been the third tallest building after the two Great Pyramids (of Khufu and Khafra) for its entire life. Some scholars estimate that would make the tower the tallest building up to the 14th century.
Pharos was a small island just off the coast of Alexandria. It was linked to the mainland by a man-made connection named the Heptastadion, which thus formed one side of the city's harbor. As the Egyptian coast is very flat and lacking in the kind of landmark used at the time for navigation, a marker of some sort at the mouth of the harbour was deemed necessary - a function the Pharos was initially designed to serve. Use of the building as a lighthouse, with a fire and reflective mirrors at the top, is thought to date to around the 1st century AD, during the Roman period. Prior to that time the Pharos served solely as a landmark or day beacon.

Construction and destruction

The lighthouse was completed in the 3rd century B.C., after having been initiated by Satrap (governor) Ptolemy I Soter, Egypt's first Macedonian ruler and a general of Alexander the Great. After Alexander died unexpectedly at age 32, Ptolemy Soter (Saviour, named so by the inhabitants of Rhodes) made himself king in 305 B.C. and ordered the construction of the Pharos shortly thereafter. The building was finished during the reign of his son, Ptolemy Philadelphos.

According to legend, Sostratus was forbidden by Ptolemy from putting his name on his work. But the architect left the following inscription on the base's walls nonetheless: "Sostratus, the son of Dexiphanes, the Cnidian, dedicated (or erected) this to the Saviour gods, on behalf of those who sail the seas"; the original Greek inscription "ΣΟΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ ΔΕΞΙΦΑΝΟΥ ΚΝΙΔΙΟΣ ΘΕΟΙΣ ΣΩΤΕΡΣΙΝ ΥΠΕΡ ΤΩΝ ΠΛΩΙΖΟΜΕΝΩΝ" literally means: "Sostratos of Dexiphanes [meaning: son of Dexiphanes] the Cnidian to Saviour Gods for the seafarers (or seafaring [ones])". These words were hidden under a layer of plaster, on top of which was chiseled another inscription honoring Ptolemy the king as builder of the Pharos. After centuries the plaster wore away, revealing the name of Sostratus.

The lighthouse was badly damaged in the earthquake of 956, then again in 1303 and 1323. The fullest description of it comes from the Arab traveler Abou Haggag Youssef Ibn Mohammed el-Andaloussi who visited the structure as a tourist in 1166. His description runs: "The Pharos rises at the end of the island. The building is square, about 8.5m each side. The sea surrounds the Pharos except on the east and south sides. This platform measures, along its sides, from the tip up to the foot of the Pharos walls, 6.5m in height. However, on the sea side, it is larger because of the construction and is steeply inclined like the side of a mountain. As the height of the platform increases towards the walls of the Pharos its width narrows until it arrives at the measurements above. On this side it is strongly built, the stones being well shaped and laid along with a rougher finish than elsewhere on the building. This part of the building that I have just described is recent because on this side the ancient work needed to be replaced. On the seaward south side, there is an ancient inscription which I cannot read; it is not a proper inscription because the forms of the letters are carried out in hard black stone.

The combination of the sea and the air has worn away the background stone and the letters stand out in relief because of their harshness. The A measures a little over 54cm. The top of the M stands out like a huge hole in a copper boiler. The other letters are generally of the same size. The doorway to the Pharos is high up. A ramp about 183m long used to lead up to it. This ramp rests on a series of curved arches; my companion got beneath one of the arches and stretched out his arms but he was not able to reach the sides. There are 16 of these arches, each gradually getting higher until the doorway is reached, the last one being especially high."

Fort Qaitbey was built on the site of the Pharos in the 15th Century, using some of its fallen masonry.There are ancient claims the light from the lighthouse could be seen from up to 35 mi (56 km) away. Unconfirmed legends claim the light from Pharos could burn enemy ships before they reached shore.

Constructed from large blocks of light-coloured stone, the tower was made up of three stages: a lower square section with a central core, a middle octagonal section, and, at the top, a circular section. At its apex was positioned a mirror which reflected sunlight during the day; a fire was lit at night. Extant Roman coins struck by the Alexandrian mint show that a statue of a triton was positioned on each of the building's four corners. A statue of Poseidon stood atop the tower during the Roman period.

The Pharos' walls were strengthened in order to withstand the pounding of the waves through the use of molten lead to hold its masonry together[citation needed], and possibly as a result the building survived the longest of the Seven Wonders - with the sole exception of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was still standing when the Muslim traveller Ibn Jubayr visited the city in 1183. He said of it that: "Description of it falls short, the eyes fail to comprehend it, and words are inadequate, so vast is the spectacle." It appears that in his time, there was a church located on the top

The two earthquakes in 1303 and 1323, damaged the lighthouse to the extent that the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta reported no longer being able to enter the ruin. Even the stubby remnant disappeared in 1480, when the then-Sultan of Egypt, Qaitbay, built a medieval fort on the former location of the building, using some of the fallen stone. The remnants of the Pharos that were incorporated into the walls of Fort Qaitbey are clearly visible due to their excessive size in comparison to surrounding masonry.

Recent archaeological research

Some remains of the lighthouse were found on the floor of Alexandria's Eastern Harbour by divers in 1994. More of the remains have subsequently been revealed by satellite imaging

A Nova program chronicled the underwater discovery of the fabled Pharos lighthouse.It is possible to go diving and see the ruins.

Oldest Insect Imprint Found

October 17, 2008—Fossil hunters searching woods behind a suburban shopping mall have scored a basement bargain: a piece of rock with the oldest known impression of a flying insect (above).

The 300-million-year old specimen—from the Carboniferous period—is an extremely rare find, according to the Tufts University team.

That's because bodies of flying insects are usually not preserved due to their softer, fragile nature, said Richard J. Knecht, who made the discovery with colleague Jake Benner.

Scientists more often find the remains of wings, which are not digested easily by predators, Knecht told National Geographic News.

(Read about the oldest bee found trapped in amber.)

The 3-inch (7.6-centimeter) insect—which resembles a modern mayfly—likely stayed in the mud long enough to move its leg before flying off, leaving a perfect impression. "It really is like winning the lottery," Knecht said.

The team found the fossil in a rock outcrop in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

They had decided to scout out a fossil-rich area mentioned in a long-forgotten 1929 masters thesis by a Brown University student—an area that's now sure to yield more fossils, Knecht said.

Benner and Knecht presented their find in September at the Second International Congress on Ichnology—the study of fossilized animal tracks—in Kraków, Poland.

lunes, 20 de octubre de 2008

VIJAYANAGAR (India): capital of one of the largest Hindu empires

Vijayanagar, the capital of one of the largest Hindu empires ever, was founded by Sangama dynasty princes Harihara and Bukka in 1336. Its power peaked under Krishnadevaraya (1509-29), when it controlled nearly the whole of the peninsula south of the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers. Comparable to Delhi in the 14th century, the city, with an estimated population of half a million, covered 33 sq km and was surrounded by several concentric lines of fortification. Its wealth derived from the control of spice trade and the cotton industry. Its busy bazaars, described by travelers such as Portuguese Nunez and Paes, were centers of international commerce.

The empire collapsed after the battle of Talikota in 1565 when the city was ransacked by the confederacy of Deccan sultans (Bidar, Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmednagar and Berar), thus opening up southern India for Muslim conquest
The ruins are set in a strange and beautiful boulder strewn landscape with an almost magical quality. The undisputed highlight, the 16th century Vittala Temple, is a World Heritage Monument. Started by Krishnadevaraya, it was never finished or consecrated; its incredible sculptural work is the pinnacle of Vijayanagar art. The outer pillars are known as musical pillars as they reverberate when tapped. An ornate stone chariot in the temple courtyard containing an image of Garuda.

viernes, 17 de octubre de 2008

Chronology of Ancient Nubia

Abbreviations: BP Before the Present, very rough dates.

BCE Before the Common Era, former Before Christ (BC)

CE Common Era former Anno Domini (AD)

3-1.5 Million BP Australopithecus africanus and Homo habilis fossils found in neighboring Ethiopia, Kenya, and Chad. Thus it is most likely they ranged in the Sudanese savanna in Late Pliocene or Early Pleistocene periods.

750,000 BP Homo erectus established in Africa and Asia in later Pleistocene.

250,000-100,000 BP Lower Paleolithic (Chellean tradition), especially at Khor Abu Anga (near Omdurman); bifacial handaxes, few flake tools

100-50,000 BP Homo sapiens neandertalensis (Late Pleistocene Acheulian tradition) established in Africa.

50,000 BP Homo sapiens sapiens (“Bushman”) in Nile valley

50-30,000 BP Middle Paleolithic, Mousterian industries, denticulate tools, flaking techniques

30-10,000 BP Sahara still has extensive grasslands.

20,000 BP Some semi-sedentary populations established on Nile and nomadic groups in adjoining savanna.

30-9,000 BP Upper Paleolithic Era in the Sudan; Levallois tradition gradually transforms toMesolithic. Advanced hunting and collecting of Stillbay culture represented by the Singa skull from the Blue Nile. This is the oldest hominid fossil presently known for Sudan.

8,000 BP Very late Upper Paleolithic; Sebilian III tool types. Domestic cattle in Nile valley.

7000-4500 BCE Mesolithic to Early Neolithic Period, gradual expansion of microliths, arrow heads, harpoon heads, and pebble tools for these hunting and fishing peoples. Perhaps there is some increase of settled population sites in the “Khartoum Mesolithic”. Contemporary Abkan, Qadan, Kulb, and Dakki sites are known in Lower Nubia with rock drawings of wild animals, also at the Shaqadud site in Butana. All have traditions of decorated, but unpolished wavy-line pottery. This is one of the oldest pottery types in Africa and can be linked to Saharan populations as far as the Fayum and Tibesti plateau. Wetter climate and much higher Nile floods.

4500-3500 BCE Early to Middle Neolithic, as in Kadero, Kadada, and Esh-Shaheinab sites, pastoralism; domestic of the pygmy goat, some riverine agriculture, shell beads, groovers, flakes, borers, oared boats; elaboration of the "wavy-line" pottery with impressed dots and zig-zags. Bone for hooks and harpoons. Black and red polished bowls. Improved hunting of megafauna. Ancestors of Beja peoples established in Red Sea Hills.

3250 BCE Late Neolithic. "Classic" A-horizon, Batn al Hajr, Buhen and Afyeh sites, contemporary with Badarian and Nagadan peoples in Pre-dynastic Egypt. Characteristic black and red polished “egg-shell” and ovoid pottery sometimes with a ripple finish, sometimes painted. Cultural and economic contact with predynastic Egypt, especially in Lower Nubia.


3100 BCE Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt by Pharaoh Menes and the dynastic order of the Old Kingdom. The conquest inscription of Pharaoh Djer at Sheikh Suliman in Nubia. Egyptian occupation and raiding against the Ta-Seti in Sudanese Nubia; border fort at Buhen. Hieroglyphics and huge pyramids introduced.

3070 BCE "Terminal" A-Horizon in lower Nubia. Copper reaches Nubia

2700 BCE Senefru (Dyn. IV) seizes 200,000 cattle and 7,000 slaves in raids on Nubia, thus beginning a period of hostile Egypto-Nubian relations.
2700-2100 BCE Period of supposed B-Group in Nubia, which is likely a decadent A-Group. Old Kingdom and First Intermediate trade expeditions to Wawat, Irtet, Setjiu and Yam in Nubia.
2500 BCE Atbai pottery tradition in Gash/Kassala area.
2500-2100 BCE Rise of C-Horizon and relative decline of Egyptian influence in the Sudan during Egypt's First Intermediate Period. Characteristic shiny black pottery with geometric designs. Fame for cattle rearing. Early small states in Nubia such as Zetjau, Medjay, Irtet, and Yam. C-Horizon sites at Amada, Aniba, and Debeiri.


2250-2050 BCE Rise of Kerma before First Intermediate Period in Egypt (Dynasties VII-X).

2050-1795 BCE Reunification of Egypt by Pharaoh Mentuhotep II; start of the Middle Kingdom (Dynasties XI-XII); major forts and temples at Faras, Aksha, Semna, and Buhen. Resumption of Egyptian attacks against Nubia

1900-1575 BCE Further expansion of Kerma Culture during Egypt's Middle Kingdom; beaker pottery with red polish; huge tumulus burials for Kerma kings with sacrificial burials; massive brick 'defuffa' buildings.

1887-1850 BCE Pharaoh Sesostris III has extensive raiding, trading and fort network in Nubia.

1786-1567 BCE Second Intermediate Period in Egypt (Dynasties XIII-XVII; Hyksos (Asian Semites) invade Egypt; horses and bronze swords introduced; Return of Nubian autonomy; Hyksos seek Nubian allies against Egyptian Kamose's effort to reunify the Nile. Lower Egyptian royalty flee to Nubia. End of the "First Empire" state of Kush.Introduction of the horse and war chariots to the Nile valley.


1570-1090 BCE Kerma is destroyed by Egyptian New Kingdom Pharaohs who rule the northern Sudan reaching the 4th cataract; Numerous forts, temples and towns built. Shaduf (keeyay) water-bucket irrigation technology introduced. The "Viceroy of Kush" becomes an established position that governs Lower Nubia (Wawat) and Upper Nubia (Kush)

1570-1546 BCE Reign of Ahmose I in Egypt; Nubian campaigns and the appointment of an Egyptian as the "Viceroy of Kush".

1546-1526 BCE Reign of Amenhotep I; Thuwre appointed Viceroy of Wawat and Kush

1530 BCE War against Kush by Pharaoh Thutmosis I; goal to seize gold, livestock, and slave soldiers

1515-1484 BCE Reign of Queen Hatshepsut who builds temples in Nubia and conducts one raid.

1490-1436 BCE Pharaoh Thutmosis III has repeated military expeditions against Nubia past the 3rd cataract; Major temple erected at Semna. Principle goals: slaves, gold, cattle, and ivory

1410 BCE Joshua at the battle of Jericho

1403-1365 BCE Reign of Amenhotep III; builder of temple at Solb

1375 BCE Nubian revolt against Amenhotep III

1361-1352 BCE Reign of Tutankhamun; Huy appointed Viceroy of Kush; Huy responsible gold production and tribute from Wawat and Kush.

1298-1232 BCE Reign of Ramses II; manorial occupation of northern Sudan up to the 4th cataract. Temples at Abu Simbel, Amara West, and Aksha. Setau appointed Viceroy of Kush.

1287 BCE Nubian revolt against Egypt.

1069-715 BC Third Intermediate Period in Egypt. (Dynasties XXI-XXIV), rival dynasties in EgyptTanite (XXI dynasty, 1069-945 BC) established in Delta; later replaced by another dynasty at Bubastis. Herihor serves as Viceroy of Kush under Ramses XI. As Dynasty XX closes Herihor (ca. 1060 BC) becomes High Priest of Amun and his son Piankhi becomes the Viceroy of Nubia.

1000-960 BCE Reign of King David of Israel

1000-750 BCE Period of Phoenician trading prosperity

970 BCE Salvage of royal Egyptian mummies to secret cache at Deir al Bahri.

960-931 BCE Reign of King Solomon of Israel


ca. 950 BCE Kushites under Aserkhamen (?) start attacks on Egypt in attempt to expand northward.

945-715 BCE Reign of Dynasty XXII; Delta rivalries

ca. 850 BCE Napatan kings and queens begin burials at Kurru.

825-730 BCE Age of Euboean Expansion and Regional Colonization

818-715 BCE Reign of Dynasty XXIII; Delta rivalries

ca. 800 BCE Kush expands northward with a weak and divided Egypt, Piankhy claims Thebes as province of Kush. Projected as a man of honor, a horse-fancier, and a "deliverer" from disunity, he responds to the pleas from Delta princes to reunify the Nile and defeat Osorkon IV of Dyn. XXII.

790-760 BCE Reign of Kushite Pharaoh Alara, probable founder of Dynasty XXV, starting the "Late Period in Egypt and the reunification of the Nile valley.

765 BCE Piankhy completes conquest of Egypt.


760-656 BCE Reunification of Egypt under the Kushitic "Ethiopian" Dynasty XXV.

760-747 BCE Reign of Kushite Pharaoh Kashta. Kashta drove Osorkon IV (Dyn. XXII) back into the Egyptian Delta. Kashta was buried at Kurru not Thebes

750-700 BCE Phoenician alphabet arrives in Greece.

747-716 BCE Reign of Pharaoh Piankhy , son of Kashta. Piankhy controls all of Egypt and uses siege tactics against the Assyrians.

ca. 730 BCE Piankhy fights Tefnakht (Dyn. XXIV) in the Delta and halts Tefnakht’s drive to the south.

ca. 730 BCE Piankhy erects stela.

744-612 BCE Height of Assyrian power.

716 BCE Death of Piankhy; he is buried at Kurru.

716-701 BCE Reign of Pharaoh Shabaka, (younger brother of Piankhy); Shabaka is noted in the Old Testament, Genesis 10(7); It was also noted that Isaiah, King of Israel gave gifts to Shabaka, who had supported these Palestinians at Al-Taku in their fight against the Assyrians under Sennacherib. In order to divert the Assyrians, Shabaka stimulated revolts in the Levant. Later, in 701, when expecting battle with Sennacherib in the Delta, he is saved when the Assyrians withdraw because of a plague epidemic among their troops. Shabaka ruled mainly from Thebes and is buried at Kurru.

701-690 BCE Reign of Pharaoh Shabataka (Shebitqu). Shabataka is also noted in the Torah (Old Testament), Genesis 10(7); He is buried at Kurru.

690-664 BCE Pharaoh Taharka, (younger brother of Shabataka). As Crown Prince Taharka joined forces of Hezekiah of Judea (Israel) in their joint struggle against the Assyrians then led by Sennacherib (704-681 BC). Ruling from Memphis and Thebes he continually fought to protect the Nile valley from the Assyrians led by Esarhaddon (680-669), the son and successor of Sennacherib. Taharka also sought the restoration of Pharaonic authority, religion and architecture; grandson of Kashta.

ca. 690 BCE Coronation of Taharka at Memphis; Taharka adds to the temple at Jebel Barkal.

680-669 BCE Camels introduced to Egypt by Assyrian King Esarhaddon. Later camels became critical in trans-Saharan trade. In order to distract Esarhaddon away from the Nile, Taharka stimulated revolts at Sidon and Tyre in Phoenicia. These revolts were crushed and provoked Esarhaddon to strike at Taharka at Tanis and Memphis.

671 BCE Esarhaddon speeds across Sinai with his camel cavalry and meets the Nubian and Egyptian forces of Taharka in the eastern Delta; Taharka is defeated and withdraws from Tanis and retreats to Memphis citadel.

670 BCE Taharka retakes the Delta from the Assyrians

669 BCE Assyrians under Esarhaddon siege and sack Memphis; son of Taharka captured and taken to Assyria; Taharka resumes tactical support of Phoenicians

668 BCE Esarhaddon plans return conquest, but dies on route back to Egypt. Ashurbanipal, (668-627) son of Esarhaddon resumes revenge campaign and badly defeats Taharka in the Delta, and sacks Memphis.

667 BCE Taharka withdraws from Egypt to Napata; Delta princes call for Taharka to return to fight the Assyrians, but he does not respond.

664 BCE Taharka dies and is buried at Kurru pyramid field. Rise of Dyn XXVI in Egypt (664-525 BCE).

664-653 BCE Reign of Pharaoh Tanutamun (Tanwetamani), nephew of Taharka.

664 BCE Tanutamun briefly regains control of Memphis and the entire Nile valley, but with weak support from the Delta princes under Assyrian pressure and with rival claims to rule Lower Egypt by Psammetichos I (664-610 BC), he withdraws to Thebes.

661 BCE Tanutamun defeated in Memphis and driven from Thebes that is sacked by Ashurbanipal.

656-590 BCE Kushite withdrawal back to the Sudan, with the continued survival of the worship of Amun at Jebel Barkal/Napata.

653 BCE Death of Tanutamun; the last to be buried at Kurru

653-643 BCE Reign of Atlanersa

643-623 BCE Reign of Senkamanisken (father of Aspelta and Anlamani); Buried at Nuri

625 BCE Naucratis established in Delta for Greek traders.

623-593 BCE Reign of Anlamani. Campaigns against the Blemmyes in the Eastern desert. Anlamani was crowned at Kawa, and was buried at Nuri

593-568 BCE Reign of Aspelta who plans attack against Necho II in Egypt; Aspelta is buried at Nuri.

591 BCE Aspelta defeated in attempt to reclaim Egypt from the Saite XXVIth Dynasty. The border of Kush established at 2nd cataract.

590 BCE Psammetichos II (595-589, Dyn XXVI) invades Nubia to 3rd cataract, and fought at the northern plain of Dongola seizing 4,200 captives. He also hacked out inscriptions to pharaohs of the XXVth Dynasty, and his soldiers placed inscriptions at Abu Simbel. He may have sacked Napata and probably stimulated the gradual of Kush's capital from Napata to Meroë.


590 BC - 350 AD Rise and gradual decline of Kush at Meroë. Famed for notable iron-production technology; Kings of Kush still proclaimed as "Lords of Two Lands".
588 BCE Judean revolt against Babylon.

586 BCE Babylonian repression against Judea.

581 BCE Exile of Jews from Jerusalem.

570-526 BCE Amasis rules Egypt.

568-555 BCE Reign of King Aramatelqo


539 BC Jews return to Jerusalem.

530 BC Death of Cyrus.

ca.529-521 BC Reign of Persian King Cambyses in Egypt

525-398 BC Persian Dynasty XXVII

524 BC Cambyses campaigns in Nubia, but is driven out

487-485 BC Revolt in Upper Egypt.

486 BC Death of Darius, Xerxes comes to power.

462-454 BC Revolt in Egypt against the Persians. Romans give support to Egyptians.

430 BC Herodotus reaches Aswan.

429 BC Death of Pericles

404-369 Reign of Kushite King Harsiyotef; fought against Blemmyes in eastern desert. Buried at Nuri

399 BC Trial and Execution of Socrates.

360-342 BC Reign of last Egyptian Pharaoh Nectanebo II of the XXX Dynasty (380-343 BC)

342-333 BC Second Persian conquest of Egypt; Nectanebo II (Dyn. XXXI) flees to Nubia

335-315 BC Reign of Kushite King Nastasen; fought against the Blemmyes and fearful of Persian and Greek attacks. The last Kushite to rule from Napata


332 BCE Siege and Defeat of Tyre and Gaza by Alexander the Great of Macedonia; rout of Persians; Conquest of Egypt and expeditions sent to Nubia; Greek language and culture introduced (an influence to create an alphabetic Meroitic demotic?)

331 BCE Foundation of Alexandria.

323 BCE Death of Alexander the Great

305-284 BCE Ptolemy I Soter, rules from Alexandria, famous library established.

284-247 BCE Reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus.

283 BCE Construction of the famed lighthouse of Pharos in Alexandria.

280-274 BCE Ptolemy II raids Lower Nubia for captives, livestock, and has hunting or trading expeditions for elephants in Meroë. Greek descriptions of “Ethiopia” increase.

274 BCE Ptolemy II wages first war against the Seleucids under Antiochus I.


270 BCE Napatan period of Kush comes to an end

264-241 BCE First Punic War between Rome and Carthage.

260 BCE First Kushite King Arakamani-qu (Ergamenes) to be buried at Meroë (Bejrawiya cemetery); Arakakamani had studied the Greek language. Expansion of cattle and elephant hunting at Musawwarat es-Sufra in Butana plain; expansion of iron production.

260-253 BCE Second Syrian war between Ptolemy II and Antiochus II.

253 BC Antiochus II married Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II.

250 BC Translation of Jewish Bible into Greek.

246-222 BC Reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes; has expedition in Nubia led by Eudoxus and he wages war against Seleucus II in Third Syrian War (246-241).

222-205 BC Reign of Ptolemy IV Epiphanes; had good relations with Meroë with whom he traded for elephants.

219-217 BC Fourth Syrian War. Between Ptolemy IV and Antiochus III. Egypt is saved by intervention of Egyptian troops at the battle of Raphia.

221-204 Ptolemy IV builds in the Dodekaschoenos.

218-201 Second Punic War.

204-185 Meroites regain control of Lower Nubia and foment revolts in Upper Egypt.

ca.204-180 BC Reign of Ptolemy V Philometor. Inscription of Rosetta Stone

203-200 BC Philip and Antiochus plot against Egypt.

200 BC Greek geographer Erastosthenes describes Nubia.

196 BC Foundation of library at Pergamun.

181-145 BC Reign of Ptolemy VI, reactivates Nubian gold mines and regains control of the Dodekaschoenos to resume temple construction or addition projects.

170-168 BC War between Ptolemy VI and Antiochus IV of Syria.

166-164 BC Jewish (Maccabean) revolt against Antiochus IV who desecrates the temple at Jerusalem and forces Hellenization. The Jewish celebration of Hanukah commemorates the miracle of this time that made a little oil in a lamp burn for eight days.

164-163 BC Flight of Ptolemy VI from Egypt.

150 BC Kandake Shanakdakheto has first clearly dated inscription in Meroitic cursive.

149-146 BCE Third and last Punic war. Rome sacks Carthage.

147 BCE Macedonia becomes a Roman province.

145 BCE Death of Ptolemy VI. Aristarchus and other intellectuals of the Alexandria library flee with the rise of Ptolemy VIII.

145-130 BC Reign of Ptolemy VIII, Physcom.

142 BC Independence of the Jews.

ca. 100 BC Saqia (eskalay) water wheel introduced. Long conquest inscription recorded on stela of Qore Tanyidamani.

80-51 BC Reign of Ptolemy XII, `the Piper'

73-71 BC Romans finally crush the slave revolt of Spartacus.

63 BC Caesar Augustus born.

55-54 BC Julius Caesar invades Britain.

ca. 50 BC Diodorus terms Nubia as the home of Egyptians, and of civilization itself. Reigns of Kandakes Amanirenas and Amanishakheto.

48 BC Pompey flees to Egypt where he is assassinated. Alexandrian War and Julius Caesar seeks rule of Egypt.


51-30 BC Reign of Cleopatra VII and Ptolemy XV, initially as co-regents, then she rules alone.

44 BC Assassination of Julius Caesar, Ides (15th) of March.

44-21 BC Period of activity of the geographer Strabo.

42 BC Battle of Philippi. Mark Antony defeats Brutus and Cassius.

37-36 BC Antony in Egypt.

31 BC Octavian is victorious at the battle of Actium. Antony is defeated.

30-28 BC Roman conquest of Egypt under Octavian; suicides of Cleopatra and Antony.

28 BC Cornelius Gallus, Roman prefect, meets Meroitic envoys at Philae temple to have peace negotiations for Lower Nubia.

27 BC-14 AD Reign of Roman Caesar Augustus.

27 BC Roman geographer/historian Strabo visits Aswan.

24 BC Meroites raid Elephantine and Philae at Aswan. Probable time that the statue of Augustus was seized. A bronze head of Augustus found at Meroë as booty from this raid.

23 BC Augustus counterattacks with his forces led by Petronius who seized Qasr Ibrim and likely invaded Nubia to Napata.

ca. 22-21 BC Meroites counterattack at Qasr Ibrim, but are driven back.

21-20 BC Negotiations at Samos Island conclude in peace treaty between Romans and Meroites. Meroitic tribute is suspended and a permanent ambassadorial position is established between Meroë and Roman Egypt. Romans withdraw to Maharraka, which establishes Roman control only for the Dodekaschoenos (Lower Nubia).

0-20 AD Reigns of Meroitic Qore Natakamani and Kandake Amanitore.

ca. 0 BC Southeast Asian crops (rice, yams, sugar cane, eggplant, bananas, and mangos arrive in East Africa; initial dispersal of the “Bantu” population groups


33 AD Death of Christ

37-41 Reign of Gaius (Caligula)

37 AD First? Christian enters Nubia (Acts of Apostles)

40 AD Apostle Marc comes to Alexandria
54-68 AD Reign of Nero; sends “explorers” to Nubia in 61 AD; Plans campaign in 64 AD, but not carried out.

64 AD Expansion of Christian persecution

66-73 AD First Jewish rebellion against Romans in Palestine.

67 AD Nero frees Greece from Roman rule. Josephus the historian deserts from the Judean revolt and joins the Romans.

70 AD Writer Pliny describes Nubia; Romans capture Jerusalem with Nubian mercenary cavalry.

73 AD Fall of Masada; Romans complete conquest of Palestine

79 AD Death of Pliny the Elder

100-111 AD Period of activity of Pliny the Younger

100-300 AD Post-Meroitic occupation of Qasr Ibrim

115-117 Jewish revolt

125 AD Emperor Hadrian

132-135 Bar Kochba revolt of the Jews. Dispersal of the Jews.

180 AD Church of Pantaenus founded in Alexandria

199-200 AD Septimius Severus allows a Senate in Alexandria.

247-264 AD Patriarch Dionysius seeks Egyptian converts

ca.260-300 Major conversion of Egyptians to Coptic Christianity. Some spread to Nubia.

268-297 Another period of Blemmyes (Beja) attacks on Nubia.

270-275 Roman emperor Aurelian loots Alexandria to strengthen Roman rule there.

284-304 Reign of Diocletian.

297 Withdrawal of Romans from Lower Nubia to Aswan. Persecution of Christians

300 AD Christian population of Egypt reaches one million. By this time, destruction of the Library at Alexandria and the loss of 650,000 papyrus scrolls of ancient science, math, literature, and religion.

312 AD Emperor Constantine accepts Christianity for the Roman church as a result of his victory at Milvian Bridge in the name of Christianity; Rise of Donatist church in Numidia (endorsed martrydom as a creed of this schismatic group)

313-322 AD First Christian basilica built in Rome

325 AD Council of Nicaea rules over "oneness" of God and Christ.

ca. 340 AD Axumite King Ezana establishes Christianity in Ethiopia; End of Kushitic state with the destruction of Meroë.

350-550 AD X-Group, Ballana (Lower Nubia), and Tanqasi (Upper Nubia) cultural horizons having a new syncretic blend of Pharaonic, Kushitic, and Christian characteristics; No textual records, but huge grave tumuli suggesting small states with clear social stratification. Era of Blemmyes strength; the development of the Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Mukurra, and Alwa, and their respective churches and settlements.

391 AD Christianity becomes state religion for Egypt. ‘Pagan’ temples defaced. Christian Egypt becomes part of the Eastern Byzantine Empire.

436 AD Blemmyes attack Egyptian Nile and even Kharga Oasis

451 AD Effort begins to spread Monophysite Christianity from Egypt, while Egypt is isolated as a result of the Council of Chalcedon (at Constantinople). Effort to resolve differences between Bishop Dioscoros of Alexandria and Pope in Rome. The Council determined that Jesus was a single person with two natures; the Bishop was exiled. Eastern Orthodox insisted that Jesus was of one nature: Monophysite. Schism lasts until today.

452 AD Romans under general Maximinus attack Blemmyes and Nobatia (northern Nubia) to release Roman hostages. Christian missionaries arrive in Nubia.

453 AD Treaty of Philae guarantees right to worship Isis.

476 AD End of Roman Empire in the West

ca. 500 AD Blemmyes still worship Isis at Philae.

515 AD Romans subsidize Blemmye and Nobatian chiefs in exchange for peace.

524 AD Byzantium and Axumite alliance. Blemmyes and Nobatian mercenaries in Axumite attacks on Yemen.

527-565 AD Justinian rules the Eastern Roman of Byzantium. He seeks to reconquer Italy and North Africa

ca.537 AD Nubian King Silko drives out Blemmyes from Nobatia and implies at Kalabsha temple that he is the first Christian king of Nubia. The Isis cult at Philae suppressed by Justinian who officially closes it to ‘pagan’ worship.

543-569 AD First Monophysite Christian kingdoms in Nubia; Missionary Julian given permission by Empress Theodora in Constantinople to evangelize among Nubians.

543 AD Faras established as capital of Christian Nobatia.

ca. 560 Missionary Longinus at Nobatia and Alwa.

ca.569 AD Dongola established as capital of Mukurra after its conversion to Christianity.

579-80 AD Longinus converts Alwa to Monophysite Christianity. Soba is the established capital.


632 AD Death of the Prophet Mohammad.

636 AD Arab conquest of Syria.

639-640 AD Arab Muslim conquest of Egypt led by Amr ibn al ‘As for Khalifa ‘Omar. This begins the first Muslim contacts with Lower Nubians who are forced to pay tribute in slaves and livestock and promise no aggression against Egypt.

641-2 AD Islamic armies of ‘Amr ibn al`As reach the plain north of Dongola but fail to capture it.

646 Egyptians attack Nubia.

652 AD A "baqt" treaty established between Nubia and Egypt under Abdallah ibn Sa'ad ibn Abi Sahr. Nubia would provide 360 slaves each year and promise no attacks; Egypt would provide 1300 "kanyr" of wine. Old Dongola is captured for a period; conflicts noted between Makuria and Nobatia

661-750 AD Umayyad Dynasty in Egypt. Some Nubians serve as mercenaries in the Islamic armies.

697-707 AD Merger of Nobatia and Mukurra under King Merkurius

720 AD A "baqt" is recorded between Egyptians and Beja

740's AD Cyriacus, King of Dongola lays siege to Umayyad capital at Fustat (Cairo).

750-870 AD Abbasid dynasty in Egypt.

758 AD Abbasids complain of no "baqt" payments and Blemmyes attacks on Upper Egypt.

819-822 AD Dongola king and Beja refuse to pay "baqt" tribute and they mount attacks on Egypt

835 AD George I (816-920), crowned King of Dongola

836 AD George I travels to Baghdad and Cairo

868-884 Amr Ahmed ibn Tulun rules Egypt; large numbers of Nubians in Tulunid army.

920 AD Reign of Dongola King Zakaria begins

950 AD Some Muslims reported at Soba

951,956,962 More Nubian raids into Upper Egypt

969-1171 AD Fatimid rule in Egypt; attack on Nubia by al-Umari

969 AD King George II reigns and attacks Egypt

ca. 1000 AD Nilotic cattle pastoralists expand into southern Sudan.

ca. 1050 Up to 50,000 Nubians serve in Fatimid army

1171-1250 AD Ayyubid Dynasty in Egypt

1127 AD Saladin (Ayyubids) forces Nubians to withdraw to Upper Egypt; George IV is Nubian King.

1140's AD Christian kingdom of Dotawo (Daw) noted in Nubia

1163 AD Crusaders attack Ayyubids and seek alliance with Nubian Christians.

1172 Nubian-Crusader alliance against Ayyubids; clashes in Cairo and Delta towns; Turanshah attacks Nubia

ca. 1200 Rise of the Daju dynasty in Darfur. Northward movement of Dinka, and Nuer populations into Bahr al-Ghazal and Upper Nile

1204 Nubian and Crusader leaders meet in Constantinople

1235 Last priest sent to Nubia from Alexandria

1250-1382 Bahri Mamluk Dynasty in Egypt


1260-1277 Forces of Mamluke Sultan Al-Zahir Baybars attack Nubia

1264 Nubians again pay "baqt" tribute, now to Mamlukes

1268 AD Dongola King Dawud pays "baqt" to Mamlukes

1275 AD King Dawud raids Aswan

1275-1365 Period of warfare between Mamlukes and Nubians

1276 AD Mamluke Egyptians sack Dongola; forced conversion to Islam; King Dawud captured

1289 AD Last Mamluke military campaign against Dongola.

1317 AD Defeat of the last Christian king in Nubia and the first Muslim king Abdullah Barshambu on the throne in Dongola; "baqt" re-established; first mosque is built at Dongola

1372 AD Bishop of Faras consecrated by Patriarch in Alexandria

1382-1517 AD Circassian (Burji) Mamluke Dynasty in Egypt

1400's Probable time of the replacement of the Daju by the Tunjur Dynasty in Darfur. Luo migrations from the southern Sudan led to creation of Shilluk groups.

1453 AD Fall of Roman Empire of the East.

See: Historical Dictionary of the Sudan (3rd Edition) for subsequent Islamic chronology to the present.