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1/3/13: Local knowledge

It’s one thing to get information about the town of El Kurru from an archaeologist’s diary nearly 100 years old; it’s quite another to talk with people who live in the village and encounter remains of the past on a regular basis, while building houses or irrigating their palm trees.

These villagers do not consider themselves Nubian, although their ancestors would have been several centuries ago, and I have not found that they feel a close connection to the remains of the past that surround them. They are quite interested in them, though, and they think they are important. So they have been very happy to show us what they have found. Here are some of the characters we’ve talked to in the past couple of days.

Mansour Mohammed Ahmed is a thoughtful, friendly man in his 40s who worked for a Sudanese archaeologist investigating a rock quarry at the site. He came with me around the village, knocking on doors and introducing me when I wanted to look at a particular area.

Babikir Ahmed Khalifa is the rascally (and very friendly) man on the donkey who said he remembered where the big city wall was found. We’re going to check his memory.

Abdo Halafallah is another man in his 40s who carried around his daughter (2 ½ years old) and showed us places in the palm groves where he had encountered possible archaeological remains—and some of them seem extremely promising, like the stone staircase and the construction of red bricks, but also a series of places that seemed to be deep hollows in the earth.

It’s quite amazing to have such interested and thoughtful collaborators, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do together.