Abstract: Laurel Bestock (Brown) “A Line in the Sand: blurring boundaries at Uronarti, Sudan.”

Hi everyone,

Here is the abstract for our upcoming lecture that is co-sponsored with the Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop. Because of this, we are not meeting on our usual Tuesday slot. We will instead be joining IAW on October 22nd (Thursday) at 4:00pm CT (note the earlier time).

The Zoom link will be sent out today and on Thursday morning to everyone in the mailing list. If you do not receive it or want to be included, feel free to reach out to me at egarciamolina@uchicago.edu.

Here is the abstract Dr. Bestock gave for her talk:

Taking the notion of a line as a motif, this talk will introduce recent excavation and survey at the Sudanese site of Uronarti as a means of looking at, and blurring, boundaries both past and present. Uronarti, a fortress at the southern frontier of Egypt in the early 2nd millennium BC, was the location of a stela in which the king Senwosret III claimed to have established his border against the craven and vile Nubians to his south. Yet not only do we know Nubians were encouraged to cross this boundary, we also find that behind the supposedly stark political divide the project of drawing a line between people of different ethnicities is an impossible task. Perhaps no clearer indication of this comes from lines of architecture: strictly planned rectilinear mudbrick construction is typically regarded as “Egyptian” and round dry stone construction as “Nubian”. Where do we draw the line at Uronarti when we find an extramural settlement with dry stone round huts and 100% “Egyptian” pottery? The question of lines and the limits of thinking them absolute is no less relevant in the modern era; while Uronarti lies in modern Sudan, well south of the current border, its regional landscape was effectively re-colonized by Egypt in the mid-20th century by the construction of the Aswan High Dam and the attendant displacement of local populations. Finally, this talk will ask how the lines of archaeologists – be they physical lines of a trench or transect, or notional disciplinary lines – impose rather than reflect order. The work of the Uronarti Regional Archaeological Project to develop a universal tablet based recording system has given us a chance to examine our own methodology and ask what archaeologists have in common and what not; to discover, often to our amusement, where our own lines lie.

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