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Author Topic: Egypt's Gold Source Discovered  (Read 204 times)
Description: The riverside camp about 800 miles south of Cairo is the first-known of its kind
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Diving Doc
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« on: June 24, 2007, 04:15:10 AM »

LiveScience Staff Writer
Tue Jun 19, 11:00 AM ET

An ancient gold-processing and panning camp has been discovered along the Nile River and is thought to be the first physical evidence of where Egypt obtained its vast gold stashes.

Aside from one gold collection site the team said was �mentioned only in passing� during the 1960s, the riverside camp about 800 miles south of Cairo is the first-known of its kind in Nubia, the region now known as northern Sudan. The archaeologists think non-Egyptians called Kushites, who ruled the region, gathered gold at the site from about 2000 B.C. to 1500 B.C. and used it to trade with Egypt.

�Based on what we�ve found, the kingdom of Kush was significantly larger and more powerful than anyone thought,� said Geoff Emberling, an archaeologist at the University of Chicago�s Oriental Institute and co-leader of the expedition. Emberling explained most other clues of the Kushite�s reach have been inferred from written Egyptian records.

Bruce Williams, also an archaeologist at the Oriental Institute and expedition co-leader, agreed.

�If Kushites were processing gold way out here, more than 200 miles from their capital city Kerma, there had to have been good logistics and discipline,� he said of the site at Hosh el-Guruf. �You can only imagine the chaos of an unattended gold mining operation.�

To the untrained eye, the gold-processing center is a field of rocks about 150 feet from the Nile�s banks. But closer inspection revealed 55 two-foot grindstones used to crush gold ore, the team said. Once macerated into dust and gold flakes, camp workers may have sifted out the bounty using the Nile�s waters.

Emberling thinks powerful leaders in Kerma, located 225 miles downstream, demanded the rural gold product in a customary but unequal exchange for trinkets and supplies. �The process probably went like this: �We send you the trinkets, you send us the bags of gold and we give you more status,�� Emberling said.

The archaeologists think the Kushite rulers in Kerma ultimately used the gold as leverage against the powerful Egyptians, who eventually took over the weakened Nubian kingdom with military might by 1500 B.C.

�The kingdom of Kush and the Egyptians were close trading buddies, but Egypt had three classic enemies: the Asiatics, the Libyans and the Kushites,� Emberling said. �Their cultures clashed, and the Kushites had more resources available to them, which the Egyptians wanted.�

Both Emberling and Williams noted there is still much to learn from the new site, but all archaeological teams in the area are scrambling to excavate a 100-mile stretch of the Nile, which will flood in about a year.

�There�s a dam being built just upstream, and it�s almost done. About 2,500 sites no one has even touched are going to be destroyed,� Emberling said. �We have only one more season to salvage these sites, and that�s it. In spite of all the work we�re doing, we�re going to lose an enormous amount of history.�

In addition to the University of Chicago�s Oriental Institute, Williams and Emberling�s expedition was funded by the        National Geographic Society and the Packard Humanities Institute.

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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2007, 03:23:13 PM »

Archeologists race to uncover lost kingdom on Nile

JOHN NOBLE WILFORD The New York Times - June 24, 2007

   On the periphery of history in antiquity, there was a land known as Kush. Overshadowed by Egypt, to the north it was a place of uncharted breadth and depth far up the Nile, a mystery verging on myth. One thing the Egyptians did know and recorded � Kush had gold.

The Kush kingdom was conquered by the Egyptians

   Scholars have come to learn that there was more to the culture of Kush than was previously suspected. From deciphered Egyptian documents and modern archaeological research, it is now known that for five centuries in the second millennium B.C., the kingdom of Kush flourished with the political and military prowess to maintain some control over a wide territory in Africa.

   Kush�s governing success would seem to have been anomalous, or else conventional ideas about statehood rest too narrowly on the experiences of early civilizations like Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. How could a fairly complex society exist without a writing system, an extensive bureaucracy, or major urban centres, none of which Kush evidently had?

   Archaeologists are now finding some answers � at least intriguing insights � emerging in advance of rising Nile waters behind a new dam in northern Sudan. Hurried excavations are uncovering ancient settlements, cemeteries, and gold-processing centres in regions previously unexplored.

   In recent reports and interviews, archaeologists said they had found widespread evidence that the kingdom of Kush, in its ascendancy from 2000 B.C. to 1500 B.C., exerted control or at least influence over a 750-mile stretch of the Nile Valley. This region extended from the first waterfall in the Nile, as attested by an Egyptian monument, all the way upstream to beyond the fourth waterfall. The area covered part of the larger geographic region of indeterminate borders known in antiquity as Nubia.

   Some archaeologists theorize that the discoveries show that the rulers of Kush were the first in sub-Saharan Africa to hold sway over so vast a territory.

   "This makes Kush a more major player in political and military dynamics of the time than we knew before," said Geoff Emberling, co-leader of a University of Chicago expedition. "Studying Kush helps scholars have a better idea of what statehood meant in an ancient context outside such established power centers of Egypt and Mesopotamia."

   Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute at the university, said: "Until now, virtually all that we have known about Kush came from the historical records of their Egyptian neighbours and from limited explorations of monumental architecture at the Kushite capital city, Kerma."

   To archaeologists, knowing that a virtually unexplored land of mystery is soon to be flooded has the same effect as Samuel Johnson ascribed to one facing the gallows in the morning. It concentrates the mind.

   Over the last few years, archaeological teams from Britain, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Sudan, and the United States have raced to dig at sites that will soon be underwater. The teams were surprised to find hundreds of settlement ruins, cemeteries, and examples of rock art that had never been studied. One of the most comprehensive salvage operations has been conducted by groups headed by Henryk Paner of the Gdansk Archaeological Museum in Poland, which surveyed 711 ancient sites in 2003 alone.

   "This area is so incredibly rich in archaeology," Derek Welsby of the British Museum said in a report last winter in Archaeology magazine.


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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2007, 09:32:43 PM »

Aerial view of the pyramids at Mero�

I am somewhat dubious about the tone of the reports.

Money is power and as the gold meant little to the Kushites and much to the Egyptians, then it would have been the Egyptians who wielded the power.

The theme is also contradicted by the archaeology, to my mind. The relationship between Egypt and Kush is not a new topic. Historians and archaeologists have studied this for a long time.

Incense burner incised with the earliest records of Nubian kings. Mixture of clay minerals. From Qustul, Egyptian Nubia, A-Group, ca. 3100 BC. Courtesy: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Kush or Cush was a civilization centered in the North African region of Nubia, located in what is today northern Sudan. One of the earliest civilizations to develop in the Nile River Valley, Kushite states rose to power before a period of Egyptian incursion into the area. People in Kush were called Kushites.

The first developed societies showed up in Nubia before the time of the First dynasty of Egypt (3100-2890 BCE). Around 2500 BCE, Egyptians began moving south, and it is through them that most of our knowledge of Kush (Cush) comes. But this expansion was halted by the fall of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. About 1500 BCE Egyptian expansion resumed, but this time encountered organized resistance. Historians are not sure whether this resistance came from multiple city states or a single unified empire, and debate whether the notion of statehood was indigenous or borrowed from the Egyptians. The Egyptians prevailed, and the region became a colony of Egypt under the control of Thutmose I, whose army ruled from a number of sturdy fortresses. The region supplied Egypt with resources.

In the eleventh century BCE internal disputes in Egypt caused colonial rule to collapse and an independent kingdom arose based at Napata in Nubia. This kingdom was ruled by locals who overthrew the colonial regime.

From that, we learn that Egypt 'moved south' c. 2500 BCE. The first report:

In recent reports and interviews, archaeologists said they had found widespread evidence that the kingdom of Kush, in its ascendancy from 2000 B.C. to 1500 B.C., exerted control or at least influence over a 750-mile stretch of the Nile Valley.

The balance of power may have swung this way or that over the centuries, but the preponderance would generally have been with Egypt and this from a very early date. Personally, I would think that Egypt would have had to have had a very bad day to not have been in control of that stretch of river.

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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2007, 07:46:18 AM »


I did get an inkling that they were pushing the envelope with some of these. There isn't enough info to make conclusions to the extent they seem to indicate. Press releases need to be interesting and have a touch of the dramatic today, or they don't get attention.



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