Forebears of Menes in Nubia: Myth or Reality?

by Bruce Williams
Forebears of Menes in Nubia: Myth or Reality?
Bruce Williams
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
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BRUCE WILLIAMS, University of Chicago

AN article published in July 1985 in this journal by W Y ~damsl made a number of objections to an article in Archaeology which advanced the conclusion that a cemetery at Qustul, Nubia, had been the burial place of pharaonic rulers well before the historical First ~~nast~.~ Lost Pharaohs of Nubia,"

The latter article, "The supported the conclusion by describing briefly the cemetery of tombs of vastly greater size and wealth than found before the Abydos royal cemetery, tombs that also contained unmistakable pharaonic images. Based upon the objects recovered and the records made by the Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition under the direction of Keith

C. Seele, the Archaeology article was an advance report of materials and conclusions detailed in the manuscript of the final report, which was then essentially completed. This article was an independent composition, but it also augmented materials dis- cussed in the preliminary report3 and superseded many opinions expressed in that report in a detailed discussion of the chief object from the cemetery, the Qustul Incense ~urner,~

and in a communication to the Oriental Institute membership printed in 1977.

At the heart of Adams's objections is his assertion that "Lost Pharaohs" claimed a Nubian origin for the "immemorial" pharaonic monarchy.5 No such claim was made in that article or in any other publication which has had my advance approval. More specifically, the words "participation" and "helped fashion pharaonic civilization" were used.6

Adams appears to believe that pharaonic iconography and the appearance of monarchy were contemporary. In fact, specifically pharaonic motifs occur well before the monumental developments of the early Thinite Period, including, for example, features of the Hierakonpolis Painted ~omb' and a red crown shown in relief on a black-topped vessel of earlier Naqada I1 times.* However, such evidence as can be deduced from the geographical dispersal of outstanding tombs of the Hierakonpolis Tomb 100 type indicates that a number of rulers shared Upper Egypt simultaneously

I W. Y. Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," Carl E. DeVries, "The Oriental Institute Deco- JNES 44 (1985): 185-92. rated Censer from Nubia," Studies in Honor of

2 See my article "The Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," George R. Hughes, SAOC 39 (Chicago, 1976), Archeology 33, no. 5 (September-October 1980): pp. 55-74. 14-21. 5Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs,"

3 Keith C. Seele, "University of Chicago Oriental pp. 189-91. Institute Nubian Expedition: Excavations between 6 See again "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," p. 21. Abu Simbel and the Sudan Border," JNES 33 (1974): 7 H. Case and J. C. Payne, "Tomb 100: The 1-43. Decorated Tomb at Hierakonpolis," JEA 48 (1962):

12, 15-16. [JNES 46 no. 1 (1987)l 8 G. Wainwright, "The Red Crown in Early Pre- @ 1987 by The University of Chicago. historic Times," JEA 9 (1923): 23-33, pi. 20:3; All rights reserved. W. M. F. Petrie, Naqada and Ballas, BSAE 0022-2968/87/4601-0002$1.00 . (London, 1895), pl. 52:75.

as late as the end of Naqada I1 times.g Thus a clear distinction between the first emergence of major features of pharaonic iconography, even elements of writing, and the establishment of single rule over Lower Egypt-monarchy-is made necessary by the evidence at hand. "The Lost Pharaohs of Nubia" did claim that the unification of

for cemetery , L 'can be shown to precede the

Nubia preceded that of Upper ~ ~ ~~ t ~ known monuments of the Thinite period at Abydos and the Siali seal names its territory, at least in part."

Adams objects to cemetery L's early significance by attempting to show that, even if the tombs were royal and the chief pharaonic representation, the Qustul Incense Burner, was A-Group, the tombs do not really precede Egypt's unified monarchy but are contemporary with it or even later.12 To achieve this, connections between the incense burner and art before the Thinite Period are dismissed without explanation.13 An attempt is made to build an inconsistency between a preliminary perspective and a conclusion reached after detailed examination of the evidence.14 It is incorrectly asserted that A-Group's prior major investigator made the terminal A-Group period "coeval" with the First ~~nast~.'~

Finally, Adams discards the chronological relation- ship between A-Group and Naqada period Egypt entirely.

This last is a revival of an earlier attempt to date much of A-Group to the Archaic Period and Old Kingdom. Some time ago H. S. Smith pointed out major contradic- tions in the criteria used to identify materials G. A. Reisner and C. M. Firth originally dated to the Old Kingdom and further pointed out that most of the contexts could quite easily be assigned to the A- or C-Group periods. This left a large lacuna in the series of cultures that occupied Lower Nubia, although a few sites, such as the Buhen settlement, a few graves, and a cemetery at Koshtamna could not be eliminated from the period entirely.16 Despite these fragments of occupation, Adams insists that the

9 W. Kaiser and G. Dreyer, "Umm el-Qaab," vol. 3:l (Uppsala, 1972), p. 29. This is not, as MDAIK 38 (1982): fig. 12 and pp. 242-45. cited in "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs,""coeval"

10 See again "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," p. 21. with the First Dynasty but ". . . corresponds to the

11 See below; for the name of Nubia, see ibid., transition between Kaiser's Negadeh 111 and the

p. 14, fig.; G. A. Reisner, The ArchaeologicalSurvey First Dynasty. . . ." "There are hardly any ceramic of Nubia, Reportfor 1907-1908, vol. 1 (Cairo, 1910), products of Egyptian manufacture that can be pls. 65 f. At least once it occurs as an equal of Upper positively dated later than the transition between and Lower Egypt; see Petrie, Great Tombs of the Kaiser's Negadeh 111 and the First Dynasty." Earliest Dynasties, pt. 2, EEF 21 (London, 1901), Nordstrom's discussion is an effective rksumk of the pl. 3:3. situation but not "meticulous" as characterized in

12 Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," which would pp. 188-89. Chronology within the cemetery was entail detailed individual comparisons of objects. based on approaches used by Kaiser in the smaller Since Nordstrom's conclusions were explicitly based Abydos B cemetery. For the most recent work, see on those of Kaiser, the remark "almost certainly Kaiser and Dreyer, "Umm el-Qaab," pp. 213-40, more scientifically reliable than anything so far with summary on p. 241; an argument for earlier undertaken in Egypt" is incorrect. tombs is made on pp. 242-51 and summarized on 16 H. S. Smith, "The Nubian B-Group," Kush 14 pp. 251-53; the development of objects is discussed (1966): 69-124; see, however W. B. Emery, "Egypt on pp. 262-63. The method does resemble Reisner's, Exploration Society, Preliminary Report on the which has had great value as a basis for critical Excavations at Buhen 1962," Kush 11 (1963): 116- examination. 20; A. V. Vinogradov, "Raskopki mogil'nikov v

13 Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," rayone sel. zapadnaia Koshtamna," in B. B. Piotrov-

p. 187. sky, ed., Drevnaia Nubia (Moscow, 1964), pp. 205- 14 Ibid., pp. 187-88. 28; H. G. Fischer, "Varia Aegyptiaca," JARCE 2 Is H.-.A Nordstrom, Neolithic and A-Group Sites, (1963): 34-39. The major contexts in question could

Scandinavian Joint Expedition to Sudanese Nubia, be dated between A- and C-Group.

lacuna be filled, and not with C-Group, despite the existence of other major lacunae which he has stressed in the archaeological record of Lower ~ubia.'~

All of the links to early Egypt are to be abandoned or to be attributed to the export of goods long obsolete in Egypt so that A-Group can be used to plug the Chronological methods of this sort, that arbitrarily dismiss important bodies of evidence, belong to an age when broad assumptions of "cultural retardation" went unchallenged;19 Reisner's use of such assumptions in dating A-Group needlessly distorted the archaeo- logical and historical record in Nubia for many years despite W. M. F. Petrie's objections.

In fact, the chronology of cemetery L and A-Group can be established with considerable confidence through a series of reciprocal interconnections. These occur in the period just before Aha, which Petrie referred to as Dynasty 0, and Semainean, which W. Kaiser calls Naqada 111 and which H. Kantor has more generally called Beginning of the First Dynasty and Late Gerzean. In recent years, there has been a tendency to dismiss the study of chronology in the period before ha^' because of differences among investigators in terminology, the length and significance of periods, and the kinds of evidence used to establish the periods. Actually, correlations between various phases and historical persons can be made with much greater clarity and reliability than might be expected from the variable terminologies employed. Sum- marizing briefly, there are materials from royal tombs, ancillary burials, and groups with names that are clearly dated to the time of Aha and later, the First Dynasty in the strictest sense. They comprise a chronological standard with which all materials that are otherwise purported to be of First Dynasty date must be compared and re~onciled.~'

Three rulers buried at Abydos-Narmer, Ka or Sekhen, and Ra or Iry-Hor-date materials in their own tombs or groups with their names, and that of Scorpion, found

17 Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," pp. 180-89. However, see Adams, Nubia: Corridor to Africa (Princeton, 1977), p. 335: "There is no archaeological evidence to suggest that anyone at all was living along the Nile betwen Aswan and the Wadi Allaqi when Ptolemy IV erected his temples there." See also pp. 242, 244 and idem, "The 1980 Excavations at Qasr Ibrim," Meroitica 7 (1984): 420: ". . . should confirm once and for all the general depopulation of Lower Nubia in the last millen- nium B.C.

18 Idem, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," pp. 188-89. See also idem, Nubia: Corridor to Africa, pp. 133-35, where the position is less confidently stated. No evidence is presented in either publication.

19 Reisner, The Archaeological Survey of Nubia, Report for 1907-1908, p. 221: ". . . the manifest inertia in its primitiveness of the Nubian culture . . ."; Nordstrom,Neolithic and A-Group Sites, p. 29, cites Smith in refuting the date.

20 See, for example, K. Weeks's remarks in An Historical Bibliography of Egyptian Prehistory,

ARCE Catalogues, no. 6 (New York, 1984), p. viii.

For a clearer view of the differences, see W. Needler,

Predynastic and Archaic Egypt in the Brooklyn Museum, Wilbour Monographs, vol. 9 (Brooklyn, 1984), p. 44.

21 Major publications include Petrie, The Royal Tombs of the First Dynasty at Abydos, Part I, EEF Memoir 18 (London, 1900); idem, The Royal Tombs of the First Dynasty at Abydos, Part II, EEF Memoir 21 (London, 1901); idem, Abydos, Part I, EEF Memoir 22 (London, 1902), pp. 1-8, pls. 1-15, esp. 6-8; idem, Tombs of the Courtiers and Oxyrhynkhos, BSAE 37 (London, 1925), register (pls. 20-21) and pl. l I, pottery; idem, Corpus of Proto- dynastic Pottery, BSAE 66 (London, 1953), with town loci reduced to S.D.; however, see also W. B. Emery and Z. Saad, The Tomb of Hemaka (Cairo, 1938), esp. pls. 24-27; idem, Hor-Aha (Cairo, 1939), esp. pl. 19; Emery, Great Tombs of the First Dynasty I(Cairo, 1949), esp. pp. 149-53; idem, Great Tombs of the First Dynasty 11, EES Memoir 46 (London, 1954), esp. chap 4, pp. 68-81 and also pp. 143-64; idem, Great Tombs of the First Dynasty III, EES Memoir 47 (London, 1958), esp. pp. 15-19 (pls. 29- 32), 51-56 (pls. 73-75), 65-88 (pls. 109-lo), and

elsewhere.22 Although these materials resemble those of the First Dynasty, they are distinct.23 They are included in the last phase of Kaiser's major re-examination of early chronology, Naqada III~,~~

which corresponds approximately to Petrie's S.D. 78.25Kantor included these materials in a more generally defined archaeological First Dynasty, but in the forthcoming edition of COWA she includes them in a separate Dynasty 0.26

Epigraphic-historical evidence in archaeological contexts from the period immedi- ately preceding consists of simple serekhs, mostly without names, which Kaiser has grouped into a Horizon A.~~

Archaeologically, the materials can be distinguished from succeeding periods, but they are already included in Naqada IIIb and they correspond primarily to S.D. 78, although some material of 77 may also be in~luded.~'

The phase just before was the major problem of early archaeology. Petrie saw it as a long one (Semainean) and assigned many S.D. numbers to it (62165-761 77). Kantor, recognizing close links between the still earlier Gerzean (Naqada 11) and the Thinite Period (Dynasties 0-11), advocated its abolition as a separate entity.29 However, this conclusion did not imply that the materials designated by these sequence dates were to be dated to any succeeding period.30 The distribution studies of Kaiser restored the period to existence as Naqada III~,~'

but the span of time it covered could well have been quite brief.32

Although there were differences between Kantor and Kaiser in the relative spans of time assigned to the periods and the significance and placement of transitions, correlations and relative arrangement on a time line would be the same no matter

what name is applied.

105-106 (pl. 123). For rapid reference, see A. L. Kelley, The Pottery of Ancient Egypt (Toronto, 1976), pls. 1 and 2; see sources in fascicle.

22 Kaiser and Dreyer, "Umm el-Qaab,"esp. p. 241, summary.

23 Ibid., pp. 262-69, esp. fig. 14., Kaiser, "Einige Bemerkungen zur agyptischen Fruhzeit: 111. Die Reichseinigung," ZAS 91 (1964): fig. 7; pottery from groups dated by these serekhs is illustrated in fig. 1.

24 Kaiser, "Zur inneren Chronologie der Naqada- kultur," Archaeologia Geographica 6 (1957): pl. 24.

25 W. F. M. Petrie, G. A. Wainwright, and A. H. Gardiner, Tarkhan I and Memphis V, BSAE 23 (London, 1923), p. 3.

26 H. J. Kantor, "The Relative Chronology of Egypt and Its Foreign Correlations Before the Late Bronze Age," in R. Ehrich, ed., Chronologies in Old World Archaeology(Chicago, 1965), fig. 2; Narmer by name is placed in Dynasty I; objects from S.D. 77-78, pp. 8-10, detail Late Gerzean-Palestine EB I relations. Kantor's chronology was not intended to be as detailed as Kaiser's or as strictly interpreted. She now gives specific recognition to Dynasty 0 as a separate phase (COWA, forthcoming).

27 Kaiser and Dreyer, "Umm el-Qaab," fig. 14.

28 Kaiser, "Einige Bemerkungen zur agyptischen Friihzeit 111," fig. I; idem, "Zur inneren Chronologie der Naqadakultur," pl. 24.

29 Kantor, "The Final Phase of Predynastic Cul- ture," pp. 135-36; the incorporation of the Tarkhan ivories into the "beginning of the First Dynasty" indicates that S.D. 77 was also to be included, at least in part. Using a radically simplified numerical classification, B. Kemp applied multi-dimensional scaling to certain early cemeteries ("Automatic Analysis of Predynastic Cemeteries: A New Method for an Old Problem," JEA 68 [1982]: 5-15. See also idem, "Dating Pharaonic Cemeteries Part I: Non- Mechanical Approaches to Seriation," MDAIK 31 [1975]: 259-91), postulating three periods for the material, which he equated very approximately to Naqada I, Naqada 11, and the First Dynasty; no Naqada 111 was recognized. However, because such a limited classification was used, many invalid comparisons were made, and the general result need not be taken to contradict the existence of a Naqada 111 but only to recognize the very general continuity of major pottery groups from that phase into Dynasty I.

30 Compare Kaiser, "Zur inneren Chronologie der Naqadakultur," pl. 24 with works cited. See also Petrie, Corpus of Protodynastic Pottery, according to sequence date, except Abydos town material and cemetery M.

31 Kaiser, "Zur inneren Chronologie der Naqada- kultur," p. 72.

32 Ibid., pls. 22-24; idem, "Einige Bemerkungen zur agyptischen Fruhzeit 111," pp. 108-109, 117-18, fig. 5; see fig. 1 for pottery of Horizon A ("altere Serekh-Gruppe"),

The numerous Egyptian exports to A-Group Nubia date essentially to the Naqada Despite this evidence, Reisner, explicitly without evidence, dated later A-Group to the "Early Dynastic Period." First ~aiser,~~

then smith3' and finally H. A. Nordstrom, pointed out the error of the date, and Nordstrom, in a general summary statement, correlated late ("Terminal") A-Group with the transition between Kaiser's Naqada I11 and the First ~~nast~.~~

Nordstrom's discussion was necessarily brief and general and did not specifically identify points of comparison. Minor adjustments need to be made; for example, an important context contained both vessels with Naqada IIIa type painting and fine exterior-painted bowls of the kind usually dated to late A-G~OU~.~'

A-Group pottery also appears in Egypt, middle A-Group pottery in Naqada 11, and a late A-Group bowl in a context that can be dated to Naqada IIIa at the latest.38 The correlations are clear: middle ("Classic") A-Group ends in Naqada IIIa; late ("Terminal") A-Group begins in Naqada IIIa and continues through IIIb.

Published information from cemetery L could be measured against this sequence. In cemetery L, the large fragment of a jar with transversely elongated body is of a shape that does not occur in the time of Horizon B/ Dynasty O/ Naqada IIIb/ Sequence date 77-78.39 Its decoration in closely spaced multiple wavy lines is not documented after

S.D. 77. Though not closely dated, the shape and the decoration occur repeatedly in earlier corpora, dated largely 62-75, and some to 61-63 or roughly Naqada III~.~'

A stand or box with this decoration is (admittedly rather dimly) visible in a photograph in the preliminary report, and two jars with decoration of this early kind can also be seen in the same photograph.4'

Two major painted bowls have separate links to early materials. One, with giraffes flanking a palm-tree and victory complex, is directly comparable to slate palettes that show giraffes or gerenuks flanking a palm tree.42 A second painted bowl is likewise

33 Nordstrijm, Neolithic and A-Group Sites, p. 29.

34 Kaiser, "Zur inneren Chronologie der Naqada- kultur," pl. 26. 35 Smith, "The Nubian B-Group,"pp. 114-15, 118. 36 Nordstrom, Neolithic and A-Group Sites, p. 29. 37Ibid., pl. 89, grave 332:42. 38 A-Group pottery from Egypt includes sherds in

the Naqada I1 settlement at Armant. See E. Baum- gartel, The Cultures of Predynastic Egypt I (London, 1947), pp. 100-101. An A-Group pot was found in Naqada tomb 31 (S.D. 63; see pl. 12-2); similar vessels with painted blobs (pl. 12, 1 and 12, 3) are undated and dated S.D. 56. These were also noted by Griffith, "Oxford Excavations in Nubia," LAAA 8 (1921): 9. A very typical late ("Terminal") A-Group painted bowl was found in a tomb at Hierakonpolis (Morgan's tomb no. 8) with two wavy-handled jars which may be those illustrated by Needier in Predynastic and Archaic Egypt, on fig. 17 (9 and 10). Whether these are the actual vessels or not, the presence of wavy-handled jars of any kind as reported by Morgan would indicate a date in Naqada IIIa or earlier. See H. de Morgan, "L'Egypte primitive (suite)," Revue de 1'Ecole d'Anthropologie de Paris 19 (1909): p. 271, fig. 130.

39 Petrie, Prehistoric Egypt Corpus, BSAE 32 (London, 1921), F34b. The type was not positively dated within the period there or by Kaiser. However, it does not occur in S.D. 77 and later. See Petrie, Corpus of Protodynastic Pottery; see again "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," p. 18, fig.

40 Petrie, Prehistoric Egypt Corpus, D20-21G, 24; closely spaced groups of four-part wavy lines in rectangles occur in S.D. 77 (Petrie, Protodynastic Corpus, 91 D7, 91r, 91v, 94k); an occurrence assigned to 78 was from the Osiris temenos, dated by spit-level, not assigned to any group. Tura had no painting of this type.

41 Seele, "Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier," p. 35, fig. 20. Four large ovoid storage jars with rope decoration applied to them are visible immediately behind the stand. The shapes of two can be compared to the series in Kaiser, "Einige Bemerkungen zur agyptischen Friizeit 111," fig. 1. The present examples are a full stage earlier than the series documented that begins with Adydos B1/2 (Iry-Hor).

42 See "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," p. 20, fig.; see

J. Vandier, Manuel d'archkologie Pgyptienne, vol. 1 (Paris, 1952), figs. 383-84. Note that the tree has roots like fig. 383 and the animals are giraffes with curved necks. Because the decoration was vulner- able to contact with water, I believe that it was applied locally in Nubia, since it would not have

connected with a major series of early representations of vultures attacking serpenk4.' Connections of both representations are with this period and no other.

A third separate connection is made by a handled jug which has its only close parallel in a tomb at Azor on the coast of Palestine, dated to the Proto-Urban period. This tomb also contained a ripple-flaked knife, otherwise dated to Naqada IIIa at the

Thus three different kinds of evidence available in published materials link the Naqada IIIa-(ear1y)b with cemetery L, even in the absence of full-dress final publication.

"The Lost Pharaohs" laid an esential foundation for Qustul's candidacy as a royal site in A-Group by pointing out the uniquely disproportionate size and wealth of the tombs found there.45 Uniqueness of this kind would be essential for any consideration as royal tombs. Misreading the description of procedures in "Lost Pharaohs," Adams dismissed this foundation as irrelevant without further explanation,46 despite the fact that this very mode of inquiry has formed a major basis for identifying the Abydos cemetery of Dynasty 0 and the First Dynasty as the royal cemetery of Egypt in careful field research and in detailed arguments.47 It should be clear that, were the tombs not overwhelming in size and wealth (by many times, and in diversity as well as amount), no argument for pharaonic status could be sustained. Moreover, this disproportion extends to Egyptian contexts of Naqada 11-IIIa as well. Put another way, the size and wealth of the tombs indicated that a centralization had occurred; iconographical evidence indicated the type of centralization.

Many of Adams's substantive objections are directed toward showing that pharaonic iconography does not actually occur in A-G~OU~.~*

The most important of these objections are directed toward the major royal document, the Qustul Incense Burner.

survived a river journey from Egypt intact. Adams p. 186. The attempt to cast doubt on the extent of objects that pottery with fugitive decoration was the wealth was based on a definite misreading of pro- routinely shipped to Nubia, but the cited parallels, cedures recounted in "Lost Pharaohs." Estimates of from W. B. Emery and L. P. Kirwan,The Royai numbers of pottery and stone vessels were not Tombs of Baiiana and Qustul (Cairo, 1938), pp. 401- "apparently based on the number of sherds that 5, are not decorated pottery but wine jars with could not actually be fitted together," but used "the inscribed labels. distinctive designs on the numerous A-Group painted

43 See Seele, "Excavations Between Abu Simbel bowls and the variable texture of the alabaster calcite and the Sudan Frontier," fig. 19 below; cf. Kantor, of which most of the stone vessels were made"; see "The Final Phase of Predynastic Culture," p. 130, "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," p. 14.

n. 107, fig. 9 F-K; see Churcher, in Needler, Pre-47 Kaiser and Dreyer, "Umm el-Qaab," pp. 21 1-69, dynastic and Archaic Egypt, p. 161, Bl. who did not esp. pp. 241-53 and 255-59, fig. 13; Kemp, "Abydos believe there were vultures with serpents on the and the Royal Tombs of the First Dynasty," JEA 52 Brooklyn Knife Handle. 1 have verified the presence (1966): 13-22, esp. the final paragraph. References of serpents by direct examination of the object, in both works will give those unfamiliar with archi- confirming Kantor's observation. tectural history in Egypt some idea of its important

44 See "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," p. 18, fig., role. See also Kaiser, "Zu den koniglichen Tal-center; A. Ben Tor, Two Burial Caves of the Proto- bezirken der l. und 2. Dynastie in Abydos und zur Urban Period at Azor, 1971, Qedem 1 (Jerusalem, Baugeschichte des Djoser-Grabmals," MDAIK 25 1975), fig. 6, 19, 13; Kantor, "The Final Phase of (1969): 1-20. Inferences drawn from the relative size Predynstic Culture," pp. 12 1-22, table 1; Needler, and opulence of royal tombs have played a majorPredynastic and Archaic Egypt, p. 125. role in Egyptian historiography and the interpreta-

45 See "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," pp. 14-16; and tion of archaeological evidence by investigators of Seele, "Excavations between Abu Simbel and the varied orientations. Sudan Frontier," p. 29. 48 Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs,"

46 Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," pp. 185-87, 190-91.

These indicate that the object might have been made of limestone and thus was of Egyptian origin49 and state bluntly that the incense burner was not found in L-24. The objections are undermined at the start, however, for the article does not mention that incense burners of this kind belong entirely to A-G~OU~~'

nor does it deal with the definite summary palace fa~ade representation on the second published object.51

The material of the Qustul Incense Burner is not limestone. It was so called in a cursory field identification but never verified. Such unchallenged identifications are common. Incense burners have been called gypsum,52 and quartz palettes have been called quartzite.53 The monumental palettes have been called graywacke,54 which is a poorly sorted sandstone. For reasons of space, procedures were not detailed in "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," although a fair-minded reader should be able to discern that they involved far more professional methods of identification. In fact, all incense burners were tested for calcareous material. The Qustul Incense Burner was grouped with the others mineralogically by a geochemist at the University of Chicago. The diagnosis of clay minerals for incense burners of this material was made on the basis of emission spectrography. Deposits of indurated clay and clay-like substances occur in a number of places in the Nubian sandstone, most notably at Aswan (in two thick layers), Kalabsha, and ~eroe.~~

They were exploited in ancient times. Since further sample collection in the Nubian valley is no longer possible, no complete range of samples could be obtained to find the specific deposit that furnished the material from which

49 Ibid., pp. 187-88. 50 Nordstrom, Neolithic and A-Group Sites, pp. 119-20.

51 See again "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," p. 16 below, shown in bold lines. See, for example, Kaiser and Dreyer, "Umm el-Qaab," fig. 14: 3,5,10 (Horizon A). Adams also misread "Lost Pharaohs" at this point (p. 187), for the identification of royal iconog- raphy rested originally on the palace fa~ades alone. The recovery of the Qustul Incense Burner's scheme of decoration occurred subsequently.

52 Nordstrom, Neolithic and A-Group Sites, pp. 120-21. Gypsum and limestone can be ruled out entirely as materials used for this kind of incense burner.

53 Ibid. Palettes are identified as quartzite when even photographs (pl. 191, 4, 5, and 7) show at least some are crystalline and thus quartz; other examples are too rough to identify in photograph, but all those from Qustul of the type (see examples in Seele, "Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier," fig. 17) are quartz. Mortars from Qustul are not sandstone (Nordstrom, p. 121) but quartzite- sandstone completely filled with silica in the inter- stices between grains. In discussing materials, Randi HBland (ibid. p. 97) recognized some problems with the customary identifications but still considered crystalline quartz to be coarse quartzite and assigned both quartzite and sandstone to "sandstone."

54 See Needler, Predynastic and Archaic Objects in the Brooklyn Museum, p. 319. The identification is based on A. Lucas and R. Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries (London, 1962), pp. 419- 20. As of 1962, elementary geology textbooks were describing graywacke as "a poorly sorted sandstone, generally dark, containing rock fragments as well as quartz" (C. Longwell and R. Flint, Introduction to Physical Geology, 2d ed. [New York, 19621, p. 327). Schist (p. 46) represents a higher stage in metamorphism than phyllite or slate, which is "a fine- grained metamorphic rock that splits into very thin plates." Cleavage planes are not mentioned, but the grain size is variable and component flaky minerals are clearly visible. Finer clastics than sandstone are described as siltstone and shale (pp. 327-28, based on the particle sizes, silt- or clay-sized; see table 17.1). Siltstones are usually mainly quartz, shales are usually clay minerals, but other minerals, such as quartz, also occur. By these criteria, if the palettes are metamorphic, they are apparently schist (Lucas and Harris thought not). If not, they are siltstone or shale. The coarse stone graywacke is excluded. The incense burners could then be classed as some kind of siltstone or shale as well, although the appearance is very different from the palettes, indicating that they came from different deposits (see n. 55 below).

55 0.H. Little and M. I. Attia, The Development of Aswan District with Notes on Minerals of South- Eastern Desert (Giza, 1943), pp. 38-40 and 46-47; see esp. the section of the Nubian sandstone, fig. 3. Three major clay deposits are noted. See also S. Passarge, Morphologische Studien in der Wiiste von Assuan, Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiet der Aus- landskunde, vol. 60 (Hamburg, 1955), fig. 7. Blue- grey clay is described in the sandstone at Kalabsha by C. M. Firth, The Archaeological Survey of Nubia,

these objects were carved. It is clear that materials of this kind are at home in Nubia. In any case, the idea that a petrographic examination would "point to" a specific location of manufacture would inevitably imply that "slate" palettes were made in the Eastern Desert, Karnak Temple at Gebelein, or turquoise objects in Sinai.

To show that the Qustul Incense Burner might have been wrongly attributed to A-Group, Adams attacks the contexts of cemetery L.~~

Although the cemetery was essentially plundered, with many fragments and some objects transferred from tomb to tomb, the cemetery was isolated from other A-Group remains5' and so little had been left on the surface that the discovery was quite fortunate. Recording on the burial sheets was sometimes cryptic, and, in addition to the objects displaced in the plundering, some of the sherds were jumbled in an auto accident. It was a very human operation, but none of the problems was sufficient to dismiss the contexts from cemetery L from consideration. In fact, the condition of the tombs was rather comparable to the Umm el-Qaab cemetery at Abydos, except that cemeteryL was not s bjected to the massive deposition of later materials and there was probably less displacment of material. All of the objects from cemetery L can be assigned to its few tombs and loci, either specifically to the tomb or to the cemetery generally. Although the plundering allows for some confusion, the objects were essentially recorded as found.

Keith C. Seele repeatedly publicly, and in print, reported the provenience of the Qustul Incense Burner as L-24,58 as did Carl E. DeVries in much detail.59 Here a statement published in 1979~'is set against these publications, a reminiscence of a casual conversation reported after many years' lapse. As interpreted by Adams, the gist of this recollection was that the "many fragments" of the Qustul Incense Burner

Reporr for 1908-1909, vol. 1 (Cairo, 1912), p. 51, As the first recorder of L-24 and the one who made where it was exported to Assiut to be used for pots. the field notes about this piece, I am inclined to feel The Nubian sandstone contains many such deposits, that the breaking of the object was not the work of some documented near Meroe, of white clays, the burial party, but probably the work of some later probably used to make the fine pottery (J. H. intruders, who may have thrown away some of the Robertson, "The 74/75 Meroe Excavation," Nyame pieces of the article, so that they were not found in Akuma 6 [May 19751: 26-27). The formation is the grave. The Quftis and Illahunis we employed important in Arabia and Petra was carved from it. were extremely careful and conscientious, so it is 56 Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," reasonably certain that none of the pieces was

p. 187. overlooked in the process of excavation. Further-

57 Seele, "Excavations Between Abu Simbel and more, the contents of many of the graves were the Sudan Frontier," p. 29. Seele believed that the methodically passed through a sieve so as to recover cemetery was not the same as Emery and Kirwan's very small objects, such as beads." cemetery 223, which was recorded some 200 m to the 60Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," south. pp. 187-88. On p. 188: "by testimony of the investi-

58 Ibid., pp. 36-38. gator, its constituent fragments were widely scattered

59 DeVries, "The Oriental Institute Decorated over the site." See B. V. Bothmer, "Ancient Nubia Censer," pp. 59-60: "This object was the first thing and the Sudan: A New Field of Art History," we recovered from L-24. It was no longer in the Meroirica 5 (1979): 179-80, n. 6. Note that Bothmer grave chamber, where one would expect an item of does not say in so many words that the incense personal use to have been deposited. In the second burner was not found in L-24: ". . . the late Keith place, if the cylinder had been deliberately smashed Seele told me how widely scattered the fragments by the persons in charge of the burial, one would had been from which the cylinder was reconstructed expect that all of the pieces would have remained later in Chicago. Since many of them were never where broken. In view of the chaotic condition of found at the site, the question arises whether the this and most of the other tombs of Cemetery L it is cylinder ever formed part of the original burial in difficult to conjecture much about the original grave L24." position of many of the objects found in this tomb.

were not found in L-24 but "widely scattered" over the site and some not at the site at all. Fortunately, the records can be checked. These consist of individual grave sheets, made out on a locus by locus basis. Surface finds were not reported on these sheets as found in the locus but as surface finds. Otherwise, objects were recorded as found in the tombs; where broken objects were scattered in the tomb, the location inside might be queried. Recording was done by numbering and briefly describing each object on the tomb sheet as found. At the same time, a small slip with much the same information was placed with the object. After removal from the excavation, finds were assigned to classes. Only finds called objects were entered into the field register with a field number, while the field number or alternate designation such as "samples" and "sherds" was added in red to the grave-sheet's object list. Before the division, a number of "samples" and "sherds" were reconsidered and registered as objects. L-24 was opened on 17 February 1964, DeVries supervising (by initials and handwriting), and it was completed on 19 February 1964, Duane Burnor supervising (by hand- writing). DeVries began the recording on the first sheet with his initials and the date

on the front and separate lists of sherds and objects on the back, with a simple sketch. The first of the series of objects he recorded from L-24 that day (no. 1) was clearly described as the Qustul Incense Burner, and the description (already limestone) just as clearly indicates that the fragments (not many) essentially, and as he later reported in print, comprised the object as we now have it (there were also some chips). DeVries described it as broken, and in the haste of initial registration, it was designated by Seele as a sample. Later, in the process of reconsideration, Seele "found" and registered it, along with a number of other reconsidered A-Group objects. The entry parallels the date and attribution of the grave sheet but queried location within the tomb (thought to be the access pit or "shaft" to the burial chamber from the trench). This record closely parallels DeVries's detailed account of the discovery (n. 59 above). As he pointed out, there was no reason to believe that the incense burner did not originate in the tomb, for all of the fragments we now have were found there. About three-quarters of the original decoration was preserved, more than the Scorpion Macehead, for example. Most objects in Archaic Egyptian royal tombs were more fragmentary.

It should be clear from this discussion that the recording of cemetery L was not nearly as problematical as Adams indicates. It should also be clear that since the flow of recording on the grave sheet is continuous, the record has not been altered. The Qustul Incense Burner was found in L-24, and the charge that it was not found as reported is false.6'

Adams argues that because no obvious royal remains have been recognized in A-Group before, none existed, for the author asserts that "hardly a grave of the pre- Christian period has been left unexcavated" in Lower ~ubia.~'

Apart from this over- positive e~timate,~' the Siali sealings contain not just the palace-faqade of nested

61 Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," to their destruction by sheet erosion, a process which pp. 187-88. is also suggested by the abnormal shallowness of the

62 Ibid., pp. 188-89. grave shafts." An instructive example of gaps in the

63 Ibid., p. 189; cf. Adams, Nubia: Corridor to record is furnished by the east-bank town of Abu Africa, p. 129: "The general absence of grave Simbel, where no sites were recorded in either the superstructures in the A-Group may therefore be due 1929-3 1 or the 1960-61 surveys. The equivalent area

rectangles surmounted by a falcon but also ~-~~lons.~~

It was found in the first season of the Archaeological Survey of Nubia. A seal from Faras, found long ago, has the same kind of palace-faGade;65 with the faqade on the Qustul Incense Burner, these make up a group of a type known so far only in Nubia. Actually, the very weight of the "argument from silence" emphasizes strongly the uniqueness and special character of cemetery L. In this connection, it may be pointed out that Kaiser's Horizon A is made up of 13 serekhs, all pottery marks. To this may be added the serekh on the Metropolitan Museum palette, the only monumental/official object.66 The A-Group palace faqades noted above all occur on monumental/official objects. Moreover, the only monumental representation of the period that could be called immovable was found in Nubia-the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman monument.

This monument, which shows a pharaonic victory, A. J. Arkell thought was made by Djer to commemorate campaigning in Nubia. W. Helck and I. Hofmann argued that the element which Arkell thought was the name of Djer destroyed the shape of the falcon on the serekh in a way entirely inconsistent with early pharaonic usage, and Helck proposed that the serekh be considered an early one without a name.67 Although Adams objects that no Egyptologist who has viewed the monument directly concurs in this opinion,68 it should be clear that neither the discussion of Helck and Hofmann, nor the interpretation offered in "The Lost Pharaohs of Nubia" involve the kind of epigraphic points that would require direct examination. Gebel Sheikh Suleiman's actual role in the discussion pointed out the kinds of misinterpretation that created the "silence" Adams cites in the first place.

Despite all of the objections, it is clear that the Qustul Incense Burner and others with the palace faqade belong to A-Group and to cemetery L and that other representations long known in Nubia show the same subject in the same style. Whether one or another of them might be detached from consideration is unimpor- tant, for others would remain to make the point.

The last major objection to "The Lost Pharaohs of Nubia" is raised on the grounds of theory: arguing that Nubia's population in the period was insufficient to generate competition for resources or population pressure, and citing a figure given by

of Ballana was not occupied, and the desert edge was Nubia: 11, The Protodynastic Settlement and Ceme- 
dotted with sites. The 1964 east bank operations of tery," p. 2, grave 4, 3. 
the Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition were con-

66 Kaiser and Dreyer, "Umm el-Qaab," fig. 14, 
centrated largely in the settled areas of Qustul and Horizon A; Hayes, The Scepter of Egypt I (New 
Adindan, where cemetery L was found (Seele, York, 1953), fig. 22. 
"Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan 67 A. J. Arkell, "Varia Sudanica," JEA 36 (1950): 
Frontier," plan). See Emery and Kirwan, The Exca- 27-29; W. Helck, "Zwei Einzelprobleme der thini- 
vation and Survey Between Wadi es-Sebua and tischen Chronologie," MDAIK 38 (1970): 85; 
Adindan, 1929-1931 (Cairo, 1935), pl. 68. The same 1. Hofmann, "Zu den sogennanten Denkmdern der 
absence of sites in modern settlements occurred at Konige Skorpion und Dr am Jebel Sheikh Suleiman 

Toshka Sharq North and Ginein and Shebbak (Nubien)," BO 28 (1971): 308-309. Mutilating a 
(pl. 65). See also Smith, Preliminary Reports of the falcon on a serekh by showing only the head and 
Egypt Exploration Society's Nubian Survey (Cairo, breast would be incoherent and it is unknown at this 

1962); cf. pp. 26-39 (Ballana) with p. 19 (Abu period. See P. Kaplony, Die Inschriften der agyp- 
Simbel E.). tischen Fruhreit, Agyptologische Abhandlungen 8 
64 See "Lost Pharaohs of Nubia," p. 14; Reisner, (Wiesbaden, 1963), illustrations. Archaeological Survey of Nubia, pls. 65 f. 68 Adams, "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs," 65 F. L1. Griffith, "The Oxford Excavations in p. 192.


Apart from the fact that the figure is the wrong one," such figures have been based on a rather over-confident opinion of present knowledge. Accepting the belief that Nubia was much more sparsely populated than any equivalent stretch of river in Egypt need not rule out "advanced" political solutions to the kinds of problems in trade and security Nubia has faced since. In just one example, sparsely populated Nubia in the time of Piye was under control of a single vast empire, while very densely populated Egypt was divided into many little sovereignties. Estimating populations is a hazardous and doubtful business, but it is entirely possible that the citizen-support for all of Kush was less than that available in any one of Egypt's fragments. What population pressure could account for the political unification of the Dongola reach with the distant Isle of Meroe? Yet the unification occurred, and in Piye's time we find that Kushite control had already expanded north of Thebes; historians must inquire into the phenomenon and theorists explain it as best they can. As an aside, the tombs of Kushite kings before Piye have substructures that are hardly, if any, more impressive than those of cemetery Lat Qustul, and they were already mighty rulers.71

Adams concludes with a homiletic apologia containing several testimonials of uncer- tain nature from unspecified private comm~nications.~~

The injunctive homily, derived from a policy statement of the American Anthropological Association, is that "theo- retical conclusions should not be published apart from or in advance of the evidence from which they were derived."73 Apart from the question of why this Association's policies should be applied without critical consideration or common consent to every scholar in every field, the remark is at considerable variance from the actual text as quoted in the covering footnote: ". . . every scholar has the obligation to prepare the material in the descriptive report stage before he writes interpretive works based on it.,,74 Although not all photographs and drawings were complete by September 1980, a

69 Ibid., p. 191.

70 B. G. Trigger, History and Settlement in Lower Nubia, Yale University Publications in Anthropol- ogy, no. 61 (New Haven, 1965), p. 100. The figure 4,500 given by Adams is that applied to "Early Nubian Ib"; that applied to "Early Nubian 11" or Late ("Terminal") A-Group (8000) is that which should be applied (see also pp. 73-74). However, Trigger based the estimate on 41 definite sites, whereas on p. 74, ". . . at least fifty sites are known to belong to the period." Since the duration of later A-Group was less than the 350 years given (p. 166, table 6), the estimate should be increased somewhat, with an addition from the now-abolished B-Group.

71 For the political situation in Egypt, see N.-C. Grimal, La Stele triomphale de Pi(cankj)y au MusPe du Caire JE 48862 E 47086-47089, MIFAO 105 (Cairo, 1981), pp. 209-54, summarized on table 6 and map 1 a-b; D. Dunham, El Kurru, Royal Ceme- teries of Kush, vol. I (Cambridge, Mass., 1950), figs. la, 2a, 56. These early substructures of A and B stages are actually much smaller than those in L (Seele, "Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier," p. 29), although the pyramid is in use. The royal tombs of Kush do not have larger substructures than those of L at Qustul until after Piye's conquest (Dunham, El Kurru, fig. 15a, Ku 8). For the occupation of Meroe, see Dunham, The West and South Cemeteries at Meroe, Royal Cemeteries of Kush, vol. 5 (Cambridge, Mass., 1963), pp. 3-53, for example. The cemetery evidence is sparse, but Meroe could already have been important. See

R. Bradley, "Meroitic Chronology," Meroitica 7 (1984): 207-8. On p. 197, the lower levels are described as mixed permanent and temporary struc- tures and are compared to modern Sudanese villages. Thus "urban expansion" qualifies for use only in quotation marks. In a sense, the reconstruction offered in "The Lost Pharaohs of Nubia" with Nubia united while Egypt was still divided (Kaiser and Dreyer, "Umm el-Qaab," p. 242-45) into smaller sovereignties is a rather sharp reflection in a "distant mirror" of the situation on the eve of Piye's conquest. The "reflection" would even include the origin and earlier career of the dynasty.

72 Adams, "Doubts about the Lord Pharaohs,"

p. 192. 73 Ibid., p. 192. 74 Ibid., p. 192, n. 58.

manuscript had been written and was originally submitted on 29 November 1978. The point could have been checked, and it is moot.

The objections raised against "Lost Pharaohs" are based on misinterpretations of publications,75 the arbitrary dismissal of important lines of archaeological reasoning,76 arbitrary assertion,77 personal testirn~nial,~~

and hearsay.79 Conclusions are announced without supporting evidence. For example, chronological gaps (in knowledge) are treated as a vacuum, able to draw in materials from adjacent periods without any corroborating evidence and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary,80 a "highly theoretical" conclusion that could completely jumble almost any regional sequence. "Lost Pharaohs" was written under severe limitations of space, but it made available numerous facts that would allow professionals to make thoughtful comparisons with the earlier preliminary report and a separate report on the incense burner, neither of which was used by Adams. A change in terminology between an early communication made after a few months' work and one written after completion of a work years later is treated as an inconsistency in an argument.81 "Doubts about the Lost Pharaohs" has failed to validate a brief against the "Lost Pharaohs" on any point, not just because of the polemical methods employed, which have destroyed the case unaided. It failed because connections between cemetery L and published materials alluded to or made possible by "The Lost Pharaohs of Nubia" and companion works were not adequately pursued. This failure is clearly pointed out by the fact that, apart from minor illustrative points and the evidence from records that paralleled the published testi- mony of Seele and DeVries, no new unpublished information was presented here. This was no accident. "The Lost Pharaohs of Nubia" was written with a full recognition of the fact that its views would be widely unpopular in many quarters. The space allotted was necessarily small, so the information included was carefully tailored to augment and correct that given in the preliminary report and to provide scholars familiar with the period and its materials an opportunity to make important connections even in the absence of a final publication. The connections made above were all in my mind at the time "Lost Pharaohs" was written, and they are almost all available in publications regularly used by scholars in the field, no matter what their conceptual background. The objections, too, had occurred to me as I began the research on cemetery L with the same assumptions held by many others in the field at that time. Those assumptions were destroyed, one by one, as the special significance of almost every aspect of cemetery L overwhelmed them, and they were replaced by the views in "The Lost Pharaohs of Nubia." I still advocate those views-if anything, more strongly.

75 Ibid., the Nubian origin for pharaonic mon-". . . there is nothing in the design itself which archy, p. 185; wealth, p. 186; chronology according conclusively dates it to the Predynastic and not to the to Nordstrom, n. 28; royal inconography, pp. 190- Archaic Period." 91., population, p. 189 and n. 37; A.A.A. policy 78 Ibid., p. 192. statement, p. 192 and n. 58. 79 Ibid., p. 186: "I also know that no very accurate

76 Ibid., the size of the tombs, p. 186; combined record was made of the location of many finds." This size and wealth, p. 188; chronology contra Kaiser is not documented except for verbal communica- and Nordstrom, p. 188. tions. On p. 187, n. 6, Bothmer's reminiscence is 77 Ibid., p. 190, Gebel Sheikh Suleiman; p. 188, quoted in the context of the Qustul Incense Burner. evaluation of Egyptian archaeological chronology: 80 Ibid., pp. 190-91. "The earlier archaeological horizons in Egypt have 8' Ibid., p. 188. been very little investigated"; and again on p. 187:

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