Reinterpreting chronology and society at the mortuary complex of Jebel Moya (Sudan)

Reinterpreting chronology and society at the mortuary complex of Jebel Moya (Sudan)

by Michael Jonathan Brass, Jonathan Brass


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Jebel Moya (south-central Sudan) is the largest known pastoral cemetery in sub- Saharan Africa with more than 3100 excavated human burials. This research revises our understanding of Jebel Moya and its context. After reviewing previous applications of social complexity theory to mortuary data, new questions are posed for the applicability of such theory to pastoral cemeteries. Reliable radiometric dating of Jebel Moya for the first time by luminescence dates is tied in to an attribute-based approach to discern three distinctive pottery assemblages. Three distinct phases of occupation are recognised: the first two (early fifth millennium BC, and the mid-second to early first millennium BC) from pottery sherds, and the third (first century BC - sixth century AD) with habitation and the vast majority of the mortuary remains. Analytically, new statistical and spatial analyses such as cross-pair correlation function and multi-dimensional scaling provide information on zones of interaction across the mortuary assemblages. Finally, an analysis of mortuary locales contemporary with phase three (Meroitic and post-Meroitic periods) from the central Sudan and Upper and Lower Nubia are examined to show how changing social, economic and power relations were conceptualised, and to highlight Jebel Moya’s potential to serve as a chronological and cultural reference point for future studies in south-central and southern Sudan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781784914318
Publisher: Archaeopress Archaeology
Publication date: 12/31/2016
Series: Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology Series , #92
Pages: 210
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.75(h) x 0.56(d)

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: The evolution of complexity theory and mortuary studies

Chapter 3: Ceramic assemblages and a revised chronology for Jebel Moya

Chapter 4: Implications of occupational traces and spatial use of the site over time

Chapter 5: The bioanthropology of Jebel Moya

Chapter 6: Social patterning in the Jebel Moya mortuary complex

Chapter 7: Situating Jebel Moya’s cemetery within a wider Sudanese context

Chapter 8: Conclusion


Appendix I: Burial distribution map of Jebel Moya

Appendix II: New Register of Graves for Jebel Moya

Appendix III: British Museum sherd trays

Appendix IV: Burials with illustrated pottery sherds

Appendix V: Foreign objects from Jebel Moya at the Griffiths Institute

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