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Graffiti as Devotion along the Nile

Graffito of the ram of Amun in the El-Kurru funerary temple. Photo: Suzanne Davis

August 23, 2019–March 29, 2020

Ancient graffiti provide a unique glimpse into the lives of individuals in antiquity. Religious devotion in ancient Kush (a region located in modern-day northern Sudan), involved pilgrimage and leaving informal marks on temples, pyramids, and other monumental structures. These graffiti are found in temples throughout the later (“Meroitic”) period of Kush, when it bordered Roman Egypt. They represent one of the few direct traces of the devotional practices of private people in Kush and hint at individuals’ thoughts, values, and daily lives. This exhibition explores the times and places in which Kushite graffiti were inscribed through photos, text, and interactive media presentations. At the heart of the show are the hundreds of Meroitic graffiti recently discovered in a rock-cut temple by the Kelsey expedition to El-Kurru in northern Sudan.

Curators: Geoff Emberling and Suzanne Davis

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Read an interview with the exhibition co-curators

View the exhibition website

Download or purchase the exhibition catalog

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Associated Events

Thursday, September 5, 2019, 5:30pm | Exhibition Opening Lecture

Sunday, September 8, 2019, 2pm | Curator Tour

Friday, September 20, 2019, 1–5pm | Symposium: Graffiti in Ancient Nubia and Beyond

Saturday, September 28, 2019, 2pm | Special Exhibition Tour

Sunday, October 27, 2019, 2pm | Curator Tour

Video of Opening Lecture

Watch the Graffiti as Devotion opening lecture, where co-curators Geoff Emberling and Suzanne Davis discuss the historical context and meaning of the graffiti found at El-Kurru, as well as their work to discover, catalog, understand, and preserve them.