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Savanna on the Nile: Long-term agricultural diversification and intensification in Nubia

Fuller, D; Lucas, L; (2021) Savanna on the Nile: Long-term agricultural diversification and intensification in Nubia. In: Williams, B and Emberling, G, (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Nubia. (pp. 927-953). Oxford University Press, USA: New York, NY, USA. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper provides an overview of changing agricultural systems from the Neolithic to the Post-Meroitic Period in the greater Nubian region. There remain major gaps in the archaeobotanical evidence, and larger samples collected by systematic sieving and flotation are few and far between. Gaps in our knowledge include the initial establishment of the summer, sub-Saharan cereal cultivation system, but other important trends are much clearer, such as the arrival of the classic Egyptian winter cereal cultivation system of Near Eastern origin in the Late Neolithic at least in Lower Nubia; the latter of which complemented established pastoral traditions providing for the emergent political economy. The northward spread of the summer savannah crop system during the first few centuries ce formed the basis for subsequent intensification through the adoption of the cattle-powered saqia. Diversification and intensification through an integration of the summer and winter crop systems along with the development of a cash crop industry facilitated the development of Meroitic state. These processes also may have played an important role in economic changes in the Late Meroitic to Post-Meroitic transition, including the devolution of the Meroitic state. In addition to representing a long-term frontier of overlapping agricultural systems, Nubia was a frontier in cooking traditions, a crossroads between a world of bread in the North and one of liquid preparations, porridges, and beers in the South.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Savanna on the Nile: Long-term agricultural diversification and intensification in Nubia
ISBN: 0190496274
ISBN-13: 9780190496272
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190496272.013.45
Publisher version: https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfor...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Sudan, archaeobotany, domestication, bread, beer
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10119133
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