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1/6/13: Archaeologists as anthropologists

How many dates does a typical date palm tree produce? How much can you get for a boatload of dates on the international market these days? And what does this have to do with archaeology?

Well, quite a bit. We are not entirely sure when date palm cultivation was introduced to Nubia, but it was certainly there by about 1300 BC, when a painting in the tomb of a Nubian prince shows palm trees and cultivation. So we might be interested in questions of this kind as steps toward understanding the ancient economy.

But more immediately, we might be interested because we might want to excavate under the palm groves that line the Nile at El Kurru, and we would have to compensate the owner of the land for the lost production.

This brings me to my real point—archaeologists working in any community but their own have to be anthropologists in order to work effectively. And cultural knowledge enriches the experience of living in a foreign culture in all kinds of ways.