Event: Friday Seminar: "Sociopolitical structure and the regeneration of the Meroitic state between the 5th cataract and Khartoum"

Date & Time

May 11, 2018 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Contact Information

Matthew Swanson


Fowler A222

Event Type

Friday Seminar

Event Details

Speaker: Dr. Mohamed Ali, American Sudanese Archaeological Research Center

The Meroitic kingdom is an ancient kingdom in Nubia, located and flourished at the confluences of the Blue Nile, White Nile and River Atbara, in Sudan. Researchers, with no convincing evidence, have argued that tribal movements within the Meroitic territory and the Axumite invasion from the east (Ethiopia) caused the collapse of the Meroitic state. Here I consider the nature of the political economy in order to provide a better understanding of the collapse and the regeneration of the Meroitic state. I employ theoretical frameworks to the collapse of the Meroitic state, c. 350 B.C.-A.D.350, and regeneration during the Post Meroitic period (4th century to 7th century AD). I investigate how the nature and the manifestation of Meroitic sociopolitical power changes during and after the collapse of the Meroitic state.

Mortuary practices and settlement patterns studies are used here to determine changes in local identity and social roles that reflect the integration and/or lack of integration of the hinterlands in the Meroitic and Post Meroitic sociopolitical systems. I demonstrate that local elites on the east bank and east hinterland re-established a polity based in the old Meroitic settlements and redeployed Meroitic symbols to legitimize and reinforce their authority and power.

The locals on the west bank were not well integrated into the Meroitic sociopolitical system. They eventually became a real threat that impacted the Meroitic central power together with the Axumite threat from the east and the economic recession in the Mediterranean market. Elites on the west bank would have taken advantage of the weakness of the Meroitic central power and manipulated trade networks and formed local alliances that led to political and economic independence.