On November 16, 2023, Joanna Then-Obłuska and Laure Dussubieux presented a paper titled ‘Islamic and Indian glass in the Christian Kingdom of Alwa’ during the ASOR Annual Meeting in Chicago. More information about the conference and an abstract of the presentations are at: https://virtual.oxfordabstracts.com/#/event/4260/submission/485
On November 10, 2023, Maciej Kurcz and Mariusz Drzewiecki met with children from grades 4-7 from Stefan Czarniecki Primary School No. 133 in Warsaw. The conversations focused on the following topics: what are archaeology and ethnology, research and results of our work in Soba. During meetings, children were immersed in stories by answering simple and open questions. The presentation included photos and short films showing the work in Soba and the landscapes of Sudan. In addition, the children examined vessels and amulets brought from Sudan.
On November 8, 2023, Maciej Kurcz and Mariusz Drzewiecki met with children from grades 1-4 at the Juliusz Słowacki Community Primary School No. 4 in Krakow. The conversations focused on the following topics: what are archaeology and ethnology, research and results of our work in Soba. During meetings, children were immersed in stories by answering simple and open questions. The presentation included photos and short films showing the work in Soba and the landscapes of Sudan. In addition, the children examined wooden vessels and toys brought from Sudan.
On the first Monday of November 2023, as part of the archaeo-orientalist seminar organized at the University of Warsaw, Joanna Ciesielska (Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw) and Agnes Dudek (Adam Mickiewicz Institute) delivered a lecture entitled ‘Keepers of Tradition: Communicating status via attire among Sudanese women’. Part of the fieldwork related to this project took place in Soba in February 2023.
On November 3, 2023, Mariusz Drzewiecki had four meetings with children from the fourth and fifth grades at the Stefan Batory Primary School No. 20 in Poznań. The discussion focused on two main topics: what is archaeology and our work in Soba. During meetings, children were immersed in stories by answering simple and open questions. The presentation included photos and short films showing the work in Soba and the landscapes of Sudan. In addition, the children examine original amulets, vessels and a musical instrument from Sudan.
On the 24th of October 2023, a meeting with children from class 1J at Primary School No. 133 in Warsaw took place The discussion focused on two main topics: what is archaeology and our research in Soba. During the meeting, children were immersed in stories by answering simple and open questions. The presentation included photos and short films showing the work in Soba and the landscapes of Sudan. In addition, the children examine amulets, wooden vessels and a musical instrument from Sudan.
On October 9, 2023, Mariusz Drzewiecki met with the first-, second- and third-grade pupils at Primary School No. 2 in Plewiska. Two main topics discussed were: what is archaeology and our research in Soba. The stories were full of simple and open questions for kids to get involved. The presentation included photos and short films showing the work in Soba and the landscapes of Sudan. In addition, the children examine amulets, vessels and a musical instrument from Sudan.
During the hybrid conference ‘Poles on the Nile’ (June 21-23, 2023, Faculty of Archeology, University of Warsaw), two papers will be presenting research in Soba:
Mariusz Drzewiecki ‘Soba Expedition 2022-2023: searching for cooperation with Sudanese primary schools, universities, and non-academic institutions’
Joanna Ciesielska ‘First look at the population of Soba, the capital of the kingdom of Alwa: introduction into the isotopic landscape of the medieval metropolis’
More information is available on the conference website http://polacynadnilem.uw.edu.pl/
During the 26th Biennal Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (June 1-6, 2023), Rice University (Houston, Texas) two papers will be presented on the latest research at Soba:
Mariusz Drzewiecki ‘Spatial organization of the medieval metropolis in Soba on the Blue Nile’
Joanna A. Ciesielska, Petrous Le Roux, Mary Lucas, Erin Scott, Patrick Roberts ‘Ethno-cultural landscape of Soba, the capital of the medieval kingdom of Alwa’
For details visit https://safarchaeology.org/safa-2023/programs
Today, at 3 PM (CET) dr Joanna Ciesielska will talk about her research on ‘Living in a medieval metropolis: an introduction into isotopic landscape of Soba’ (presentation in Polish).
Join in at https://uw-edu-pl.zoom.us/j/95826034199
During the Sudan Studies Naples Edition conference, on May 4, 2023, at 12:15, Mariusz Drzewiecki will present a paper entitled ‘Spatial organization of Soba after multidisciplinary research in 2019-2022’. The conference will be hybrid, details are available at https://www.facebook.com/DUSESG
Robert Ryndziewicz will talk about ‘Understanding the cityscape of Soba by means of magnetometry and Ground-Penetrating Radar data’ on the 19th of April (this Wednesday) at 12:00 during the SAGA meeting in Trondheim (Norway). The meeting will be hybrid so if you would like to join online please request a link from the organisers at https://www.saga-cost.eu/meeting-contacts.php?id_meeting=10
The abstract book is available at https://www.saga-cost.eu/meeting-abstracts.php?id_meeting=10
Robert’s abstract illustrated with superb images is on pages 54-56.
Between the 19th and 23rd of February 2023, a workshop on remote sensing methods and GIS applications in archaeology has been organised by PCMA UW and NCAM. Part of the training was conducted in Soba where the participants (13 experienced researchers from five Sudanese institutions) learn about approaches and methods used for studies of the medieval metropolis.
Between the 6th and 16th of February 2023, a field school was organised in Soba for students and graduates from Sudanese universities. Six participants have been working with data and small finds obtained during the most recent fieldwork in Soba.
At the beginning of December 2022, Mariusz Drzewiecki, Joanna Ciesielska, Maciej Kurcz, Nagla Abdeen Mohammed, and Yassin Abdelmajid Bashir Suliman visited six primary schools in Soba. One of the topics for discussion with the pupils was the results of the most recent research in Soba.
During the 15th International Conference for Nubian Studies, the results of the most recent research in Soba were presented in seven papers:
- Laure Dussubieux, Joanna Then-Obłuska “Overseas imports on the Blue Nile – chemical compositional analysis of glass beads from Soba, Nubia”
- Mariusz Drzewiecki “New research in Soba East: Results and challenges”
- Robert Ryndziewicz, Tomasz Michalik “Geophysical research and its archaeological feedback. Interpreting large-scale datasets from Soba, capital of the medieval kingdom of Alwa”
- Tomasz Michalik, Robert Ryndziewicz “Looking at medieval Soba. The use of the eye-tracking method in understanding the strategies of searching for archaeological objects on archaeological magnetic data”
- Ewa Czyżewska-Zalewska “What Soba pottery says… The pottery assemblage from the medieval Kingdom of Alwa”
- Maciej Kurcz “Anthropology of ruins: Dystopias present, utopias future in the context of Soba archaeological site”
- Agnieszka Ryś-Jarmużek “Grinding technology in medieval Sudan: A new research perspective”
The book of abstracts is available at https://nubianstudies2022.uw.edu.pl/downloads/
On the 27th of July 2022, Maciej Kurcz presented his paper entitled ‘Soba Past versus Soba Present. Ethnography of Soba Archeological Site (Sudan)’ during the 17th European Association of Social Anthropologists Conference in Belfast.
During the ‘Poles on the Nile’ conference (20-22.06.2022) the most recent research in Soba will be presented in two papers:
Mariusz Drzewiecki „Badania w Soba w sezonie 2021-2022” [Research in Soba in season 2021-202];
Robert Ryndziewicz „Wynikiach wielkoskalowych badań geofizycznych w Soba” [Results of the large-scale geophysical survey in Soba].
The program of the conference is available at Polacy nad Nilem
A brief summary of both papers is also available on the website of the conference
Maciej Kurcz visited the Juliusz Słowacki Primary School no 4 in Cracow on the 3th of June 2022. It has become a tradition for Maciej to visit primary schools in Soba and Cracow. He is serving as a contact person between kids from Sudan and Poland.
During the speech, Dr Tomasz Michalik will present preliminary results of eye tracking research on the maps of magnetic anomalies from Soba with test groups being experts and laymen. The lecture is free for all and will take place on June 6, 2022, at 11:30 AM (Warsaw time) on the Zoom platform (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89742101894).
During the W. Y. Adams Colloquium 2022, Mariusz Drzewiecki will present the results of the most recent fieldwork in Soba. This will be an online and free-for-all event (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/w-y-adams-colloquium-2022-sudan-past-and-present-tickets-309474716207).
On April, 26th 2022, Maciej Kurcz and Mariusz Drzewiecki presented their research in Soba during Poznań Archaeological Academic Seminary series. The lecture entitled ‘Archaeology, transformation and hope in the context of research in Soba (Sudan)’ focused on approaches to building relations between researchers and residents of Soba.
Mariusz Drzewiecki and Tomasz Michalik will present “The beginnings of Soba, the capital of the medieval kingdom of Alwa: From Meroitic influences to clustered cities of Western Africa” at the Classical Association Conference 2022 (Swansea University) on the 9th of April 2022. The abstract of the paper is available here.
Between the 13th and 17th February 2022, the University of Neelain in cooperation with the University of Warsaw organised a five-day workshop on GIS and remote sensing methods and their applications for archaeologists with fieldwork in Soba. The aim of the workshop was to introduce basic concepts and tools used by archaeologists in field surveys and data processing. Researchers from the University of Neelain, University of Khartoum, University of Bahri and National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums of Sudan took part in the workshop. The workshop was led by prof. dr hab. Włodzimierz Rączkowski and dr Lidia Żuk.
October 12, 2021 – prof. Maciej Kurcz visited the Juliusz Słowacki Primary School in Cracow. He met with the pupils and talked about how Sudanese children spend their time, what their school looks like, what their daily duties are. During the following lessons, the pupils made postcards from Cracow with greetings for the children from Soba and gave recorded a song that everyone sang at the end of the meeting.
On the 10th of October 2021, prof. Maciej Kurcz gave a presentation entitled “Aioba destroyed Soba‘ during the Silesian Science Fair in Katowice.
In cultural memory, each end (of the kingdom, dynasty, epoch) in history is often associated with some extraordinary story. Frequently it takes the form of a legend wrapped around the characters who directly led the ‘old world’ to destruction, thus assuming the role of a mythical scapegoat. It is enough to mention, for example, the history of Troy and Paris, but also our liberum veto and the nobleman Siciński. The collapse of the Nubian medieval kingdom of Alwa – located at the confluence of the White and Blue Nile in North-Eastern Africa – had a dramatic end and was associated with one person – a woman named Aioba. According to oral tradition, the fall of Soba – the capital of this once powerful Christian kingdom – was committed by a woman who, by deception and allegedly the weapon characteristic of every woman (‘cupid’s arrows’), committed a bloody deal with the ruler and his court. Should we really treat this story as historical? What does this folk tale really tell us? These are the questions that I will try to answer. The lecture is related to my current ethnoarchaeological research in contemporary Soba – a city on the outskirts of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.
On the 9th of September 2021, during the 14th International Conference of Archaeological Prospection (8-10.09.2021, https://icap2021.sciencesconf.org/), Robert Ryndziewicz will present the results of a large-scale geophysical survey in Soba.
At the conference entitled ‘Digital Crossroads’ (14-18.06.2021), organized by the Computer Applications & Quantitative Methods in Archeology Association (CAA), Mariusz Drzewiecki presented a paper entitled: ‘Potential of satellite imagery analysis for archaeological heritage studies and management in the suburbs of Khartoum (Sudan)’. The recording of the presentation can be viewed at https://youtu.be/sQzcNNMQ-XY?t=2258
During the conference ‘Poles on the Nile’ (21-23.06.2021, online), two presentations on research in Soba will be given:
Mariusz Drzewiecki – ‘Studies on the spatial organization of the medieval Soba – concept, first results, and perspectives’;
Robert Ryndziewcz – ‘Non-invasive prospection of Soba’.
The introduction to both papers can be found on the website Poles on the Nile (http://polacynadnilem.uw.edu.pl/misje/sezony-2019-2021/polskie-misje-w-sudanie-w-sezonach-2019-2021/soba-organizacja-przestrzenna-sredniowiecznej-stolicy-nad-nilem-blekitnym/).
We invite you to watch the webinar “Kontekst” prepared by the editors of “Archeologia Żywa” (Polish popular science journal) on the subject of “Soba and medieval Africa”. The meeting took place on May 6, 2021 and was attended by: Radosław Biel (editor of Archeologia Żywa), Maciej Kurcz (ethnologist from the University of Silesia), Robert Ryndziewicz (geophysics from the Polish Academy of Sciences) and Mariusz Drzewiecki (archaeologist from the University of Warsaw).
On the 17th of April 2021, the seminar at the PCMA UW Research Centre in Cairo featured research by PCMA scholarship holder Joanna Ciesielska. She presented on the subject of ‘Preliminary investigation of population diversity in the capital of the medieval kingdom of Alwa’.
Abstract: In the sixth century CE Nubia, approximately the territory of modern northern Sudan and southern Egypt, was divided into three kingdoms: Nobadia, Makuria and Alwa. Soba, the capital of the southernmost kingdom of Alwa was located at the heart of modern Sudan, at the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile. Situated at a crossroads of the major routes connecting Ethiopia and the Red Sea, Kordofan and Darfur tribes, Eastern desert peoples, and the entire extent of the Nile valley, the city was probably a mosaic of cultures and ethnicities. According to Arab travellers, who visited the city over the thousand years of its existence, Soba was a vibrant, truly cosmopolitan city with envoys of major political powers finding their way across the inhospitable desert areas of northern Sudan to visit the kings of Alwa.
During archaeological fieldwork in Soba in 2019/2020 excavation season, 23 burials were uncovered at mound OS in the northern part of the site. Uncovered funerary features showed an unusual diversity in the manner of burial. A variety of burial practices may suggest that the deceased might have come from different backgrounds, representing various cultures, ethnic and religious groups. Preliminary analysis of observed diversity, in the context of previous archaeological research conducted at Soba, as well as various written sources, suggests growing cultural diversity towards the tenth-eleventh centuries AD. Bioarchaeological research conducted so far constitutes the first phase of a large-scale investigation of population diversity in the medieval kingdom of Alwa.
On April 20, 2021, as part of the VI Congress of Polish Africanists, three papers were delivered discussing the results of the research in Soba:
„Soba miniona” vs „Soba współczesna”. Zmiana znaczenia pozostałości archeologicznych w Sudanie na przykładzie ruin średniowiecznej Soby [‘Past Soba’ vs ‘Modern Soba’. Changing the meaning of archaeological remains in Sudan on the example of the ruins of medieval Soba] – Maciej Kurcz,
Początek polskich badań w Soba, stolicy średniowiecznego królestwa Alwy [The beginning of Polish research in Soba, the capital of the medieval kingdom of Alwa] – Mariusz Drzewiecki,
Badania bioarcheologiczne zróżnicowania społeczno-kulturowego populacji Soba, stolicy królestwa Alwy [Bioarchaeological studies of the socio-cultural diversity of the population of Soba, the capital of the kingdom of Alwa] – Joanna Ciesielska.
Dr Mariusz Drzewiecki and dr Tomasz Michalik presented research focusing on the oldest layers recorded during the fieldwork in Soba in 2019-2020. The talk entitled ‘The beginnings of Soba, the capital of the Kingdom of Alwa in the light of new archaeological research and radiocarbon dating’ was presented online during the conference ‘The Past has a Future!’ (23.03.2021). The paper with the same title has been accepted for publication in ‘Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean‘ (scheduled for publication at the end of 2021).
The lecture is available on YouTube (https://youtu.be/T0PglcqqPvM?t=6075). The beginning of the speech is at 1:41:19, the lecture ends at 2:04:10.
Prof. Maciej Kurcz is working to make a connection between schools in Soba and schools in Poland. On the 13 of October 2020, he had an online meeting with pupils from Juliusz Słowacki Secondary School in Cracow. He presented our research. Talked about people living in Soba and discussed possibilities for cooperation between the schools.
Dr. Mariusz Drzewiecki presented results of the first season of fieldwork at Soba during a seminary meeting at the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw (22.09.2020).
On the 2nd of June 2020, the University of Silesia has published a lecture by prof. Maciej Kurcz talking on the ethnological research at Soba and the story of Ajoba.
On the 9th of February 2020, a presentation entitled “Soba Expedition – the first season of fieldwork” was made at the University of Neelain (Sudan).
Prof. Maciej Kurcz on the 3rd of January 2020 had a meeting with pupils from Juliusz Słowacki School in Cracow. He presented our research, the antiquities, and talked about people leaving in this part of Africa.
Conference to Mark the Centenary of Archaeology at the University of Warsaw (9-13 December 2019, Warsaw, Poland)
A poster entitled “Soba – serce królestwa Alwy. Organizacja przestrzenna średniowiecznej stolicy nad Nilem Błękitnym” (Soba – the heart of the kingdom of Alwa. The spatial organization of medieval capital city on the Blue Nile) was presented. The abstract of the presentation is available below
European Association of Archaeologists 25th Annual Meeting in Bern (Switzerland), 4-7 September 2019
A paper entitled: “Medieval architecture around African cities. Khartoum and Omdurman cities case studies” was presented. The abstract of the presentation is available below