Neolithic Pottery from the Third Cataract (Mahas Region- Northern Sudan


Azharl Mustafa Sadig

Ab tract: During [our seasons of th« Maltas SIIFVe . proj e CI (Oepl. of Arc/weoloID'. University of Khartoum}; 47 prehistOTlC ites were record e d in the area oflh e Third Cataract [the southern pan of ttie Maha region} of II 1Iit-1l 17 were considered as eolithic sites. Tlte ceramic material from 1Ii1 .. of these eolithic sill' will be considered ill II,i paper. Th« <,rOlllie coiie tion (1101), I'd her« shows ... ide range uf variations from site If) site. The allalysis dearly shows thot tlu: Third 'ataruct site. ceramic as.relllbl(lge (Ire imilar 10 other eolithic sill'S ill the Sill/ali. The differ,," es occurrlllg 011 some iII'S deserve additional investigation and rltay be lI.reflll ill developing a temporal sequence, through It detailed SlIId.l', for Third ataract pottery.

1. Introduction:

The ah, region i located in orthern

udan along the ile between Hannek-

Tombo . at the top of the Third Cataract, and Jebel Do ha-Wawa, close 10 Soleb, The total length of it area i c.IOO km, It include the wh le of the Third ataract region. which ext nd ver 'ome 55km of the ile.

The Third Cataract region i marked by a

erie of i lands and rapid between Tombos and at Kajbar-Sabu. The region in general is a narrow trip along the rw bank f the river. with a range of mountain on both ide of the ri er. The only exception to thi is th Kokka Reach, \ hich is a nat pen area connected to the Libyan Desert Map I).

Ln 1990 the Department of Archaeology of the nivers ity of Khartoum began the Moo". Survey project ~ hich has resulted in an increa ing a cumulation of data on the type and location of prehi toric ite .. The majority of prehistoric site were found on high elevation. adjacent to 'mall watercour. es as. ociated with sandy oil and rock]' areas. No prcviou urvey was conducted in thi region. though few

ite dated to the prehi toric period were investigatcd.

Issue No. 12 Jul. 2005

ISSN: 1319- 947 (pp. 47·60)

Little was known about the early settlement . The Mahas Survey project III the first expedition to report prehi toric occupation in the region.

During four eas on of the Mahas Survey project. 47 prehi: ioric . it ~ ere recorded of which 17 were con. idered a e lithic sites (Edward' & 0 man, A.1992, I 994a. I 994b, 2000; O. man & Edwards 2002 . The erarnic male rial from nine of these Neolithic site will be considered in this paper.

2. General Description:

The potsherd collected from the. ires consi ted of 1742 potsherds, 962 of ~ hich were classifiable. These con i t. of 212 rim'. 74 body sherd . and 2 ba es. The pot herd then were clas ified according LO selected variable; namely. decoration, urface treatment. colour and hardne s, form and texture. Attempt were also made to recon truer the diameter of the pots relying on the rim. herd.

Yet se eral factor, affected the examination of the collections. One problem was the small number of herds from each ite fig 1 . The econd problem was the lack of whole or reo con tructable ve sels. Only 60 rim sherds, out


Azhari MU$tafa Sadig


• • -



~ ,.\


.. »

FAR020·_FAA019 FAROl0 •.•

FAA012 •• FARoH


~.::- .

. ':


.. Prehistoric

• "'eoUthlc

• P~KermitJl(erma

• A-(;roup?? OSc;attel'S

Illustllltlon: Azharl


Map I; Prehistoric sit

of 212, were r onstructable (fig. 2). The generally mall ize of the potsherd , the weathered ondition of many and the small proportion of rim sherd. bad complicated n 1 only the attempt of reeon truction but ah 0 the determination of vessel size and shape.

In general, the at hae I gical material collected from the Third cataract sites consis Is

largely of potsherds. As mcnti ned, no complete vessels were found. but the herd. discovered permit certain variable, to be analysed. uch as raw material, texture .. urface treatment and decoration of the pottery. With some thoroughness, and in some cases a fair id a of the shape of the vessel, could be formed.

Issu o. UJuly. 2005

Neolithic Pottery from the Third Cataract (Mahas Region- Northern Sudan)

All the potsherds from the sites are band made. and generally unpoLi hed, Apparently local clay was u ed. There are minor varialion in the iI of the Third Cataract Region from one place to another. as the geology of the region is so unif rm that choice and election were limited.

Variati n can be ob erved in the thickne and morphology of the ve el. the tempering material selected. the amount of effort devoted to smoothing. wiping or craping of the surface and the type of decoration u ed. The colour run from black. through dark brown. light brown to gray. In many pecimen the colour i une en, with black and brownish are on the arne herd.

Mo I of the variations in colour appear to be due to firing technique . The eros ection, the potsherd are found to be of uniform rexrure, but they u ually how two colour: a black lone, and a zone of a lighter colour beside it. The divi ion between them i une en: thi was due to the effec of firing. Decoralion reflects a number of techniques and motifs. bUI there i no painting or pictorial art.

3. Classification:

Classification of a ceramic as ernblage is the first critical step of ceramic analysis, and usually involve identification of wares and type that already have been e tabli: hed within the general region. Hi t rically, most archaeologi ts have focu. ed on ceramic typology in order to determine the general temporal a. ociations of prehi t ri ires, but more recent studies have used typological aria lion to

tudy aspect of inrraregional and interregional connecti n (Caneva and Marks: 1990. Mohammed Ali: 199L).

Five attribute were selected for comparative de ription and identification: form. hardne . colour, surface treatment and ve el

ue '0. 12 July. 2005

decoration. In relation to form, the pottery material was divided into four categori : rim herd: ,body herds. bases and other rniscellaneou ceramic objects.

The rim 'herds category can i ts of pouery fragmeu from ihe lap of the ves el thaI retain enough urface area to distinguish the lip porrion. Larger potsherds that retain rim and either neck or body portion arc also c1as i fied in thi category.

Base herds included any fragments from the base of the pot. Body herd were all fragments without rims or base. Individual attributes have been recorded for eacb pol herd sucb as mouth diameter and thickness.

A forth category. "miscellaneous ceramic objects. n contain items that were not part of ve el but represent other ceramic items (e.g. disc-shape items but are not included in the percentage totals.

3. 1. Surface treatment:

Surface treatment refers to the manipulation of the vessel urface prior to the firing proce . These treatments may include liping. polishing, smoothing, wiping, and craping. among others. Surface treatment is one of the primary attributes used for c1as ifying potsherds or ves-

el within an existing typology.

The collection wa first divided into three categorie according to the urface treatment (table I). Tbese are:

1. Coar e herds.

2. Fine un moothed sherds: and 3. Fine moothed sherds,

3. 1. 1. Coarse sherds:

pproximately 185 potsherd coil ted [rom the sites belong to thi class. Of these, 45 were undecorated; the rest were decorated on wiped or scarped background. The piece are


Azhari Mustafa Sadig
0 100
20 0 0
0 Sites

Fig. I: C~OSS typology of herds according to sites. u ually from I 0-19mm in thickness, and black or brown in colour. The texture is slightly den e. Several material were u ed for tempering; they include sand, mica, very mall pieces of unknown ra hed r ck and feld par.

In terms of urface treatment, of the 185 identifiable coarse herd, approximately 24.3% are un smoothed and 65.7% are wiped or s raped. Roughly 5% of the body herds are identified as unsmoothed, while only about 15% of the rim herds are scraped or wiped. The pouery has been ubdivided on the ba i

• Sa... Rm. Body of decoration into the following types:

a. Plain pottery.


b. Dec rated pottery.

Examination of table ( I ) how that decorated pottery with wiped or

craped surface indicated slight change which appear to be significant. While all the potsherds

had wiped or scraped exterior urface, 31.4% were moothed on the in ide. The mo t harac-

teristic group is numerically mill at all ites.

The shapes u ed can be recon tructed to

orne extent from the fragment hown in fig. (2). Rim of the clas under discussion are traight and flaring. The walls are thick (near the rim, and in some cases in the body and bases. Pottery of this ort eems to bave been u ed for storage or cooking. Many of the potsherds are heavy; i.e., moving yes el from place to place would have been out of que tion.

MO'I of the coarse pottery collected from the he was decorated with pattern produ ed

Class Coarse Pouery Fine unsmoothed ecuerv fine smoothed oouerv
Iype Plain or Deeornred Plain Decorated Plain Decorated
SMEOOI 10 51 41 82 .; 14
SMEOO? :; 6 10 10 4 8
FAROIO S 49 37 79 6 14
FAROl9 5 5 4 8 1 9
FAR020 3 12 3 25 2 10
FADOl3 :; 1 23 6 5 7
HNKOl2 :; 5 15 64 7 8
SMWOJ4 5 ? 162 21 15 6
MSlOJS 5 2 3 33 7 12
AMLOOI 0 I 0 5 0 6 Table. I: La es of sberds in number according to their surface treatment.

50 Issue o. 12 JuJy. 20415

·.~ ;;t

Neolithic Pottery from the Third Cataract (Mahas Regfon- Northern Sudan) ~ "I'~,


~CV\2l7\D c::LJ aJ CD ~ ~~CV ~

~ ~ \I7QJCV \2V \l7 w \V CD ~ \V <;3:J ~ \IJ \:D

OSlO ~""


\I7 \17 \3:1 G7 \gJ GJ WCV

" , 10

- ...

• lIIuwation: Azharl ~ig () 2005

Issue o. 12 JUJy. 200



urfaee Treatment

~MEOOI iwip<d 10 1 10 20 6 2 2
~"'pcd I
5MEOO7 Vip<d 3 3 6
FAROLO fwip<d I 12 14 9 3 I 7 I ~
Iscmpro 1 I
FAROL9 Wiped 0 3 I 4
iscraped I I
AROlO Wiped 1 1 2 I 1 3 2 I 12
fADOIJ I.Ilped I I
(roped I I I
I-n-KOl2 Wiped I III II 1 I I' s
~MWOI~ ~'iped I 2 I J
$Ct1lped ; L I 3
I'ISLOl5 Wiped I I ~
~LToIp<d I
f\.MLOOI I\Vip<d
r;erap<d 1 1
iroU1l 0 ~ I 28 12 2 4 36 33 10 3 14 1 0 0 1 140 by impres ed dots or rocker stamp (table Z. fig. 3. 7 . Very few potsberd were decorated with incision .

In orne en' the decorati n extends right the rim of the essel: in other , :I • moothed band was left bel w the mouth. In few case the rim of the pol had a narrow band of inci sed dec ration.

3. I. 2. Fine Unsmootbed pottery:

The urface of the ve sel in this category is

52 Issue No. 12 July. 2005

Table. 2: Coarse decorated sberds in number per site.

line but it lacks tbe oft characteri ric of the smoothed pottery. The ware i u ually about 70-12mm thick and black or grayish-brown in colour. The paste is finer than in coarse pottery, apparently through more careful election and preparation of materials, bUI contains largely the same ingredients, 631 pOI herds were cia sified in Ihi. group. _9 of which were plain: i.e .. undecorated. The number of pieces i given in table ( ). Rim fragments of this category indicate that bowl and widemouthed vessel' were u ed. Otherwise. [he

Neolithic Pottery from the Third Cataract (Mahas Region- Northern Sudan)


Class Unsmoothcd Pottery
Type Plain Dl'CO ra ted
Fine Coarse
SMEOOI 6 25 54
SME007 4 7 13
FARO 10 10 15 106
FARO 19 3 8 18
PAR020 0 2 31
PADOl3 7 14 12
HNKOJ2 11 5 57
SMW014 26 146 22
MSL015 0 9 20
AMLOOI 0 0 0
Total 67 231 333 Table 3: Number of un moothed sherds in number per ite,

fragments are 0 mall that it i quite impos ible to be sure of the shape of the entire vessel.

The number of plain unsmoothed pot herds from each site is hown in table (4). It i evident that decorated un moothed pottery was common. On the basi of the exterior treatment. the potter has been subdivided to the following type table 3):

a. Fine Plain.

b. Coar e Plain.

c. Decorated.

The decorative element u ed in thi clas con i t of many lyp of decorations (table 4. fig 4, 7). About 56.59: of potsherds were decorated with impre ed dots. These include. as the e potsherds imply, irregular complex line' of do that run h riz ntally round the pol. 5 potsherd in lude single or double doued lines and the re t include multiple d ned line .. The lauer decoration extends into a ariery of pattern. Some po herd. reveal four doued line

10 ly pa ed and another three in the arne 10 nes are banded leaving h<:tween them a relatively wide interval. orne pot herd ha e eight doned line: t gether. 91 potsherds in this category were distinguished.

Issue o. Il July. 2005

58 potsherds were decorated with rocker zigzag pattern. Tbe e include 40 potsherds decorated in zigzag dotted line . A Arkell argued (1953: 72). this pattern seem to form the basi on which all the impre ed pattern are founded. Zigzag dotted curved line' . zigzag inci ed curved line • and zigzag inci ed straight line were aJ 0 used. Other decorati ve pattern include 34 po herds with in i ed lines 47 potsherd with combed pattern and 4 pot herds with combed wavy line. The

ombed pattern was not further ub-divided.

The combing was not in a h rizontal direction.


Fig. 3: Coar: e decorated herd; a. b. c. F ROlO: c. FAR019' d f, F R020;


Azharl Mustafa Sadlg

.~ i
-' .
't; ~ ~ j. i
~ ~ ..§ ~ .. ~ 1
" ,.
L ;: ;: ~ ~ . ~ "'
'" e ~ " ] ." ~ i
.. e ., ~ -e ~
Sil~ -e ... ... ~ ~ ;, ~
~ :; " ~ -. s ... i
~ ~ ;0 G ~ :~ ! -e •
.§ -e ." 1 J<
1 <l '" '" ,. . '" ~ !) ~ ~
• ~ G -a & -a > ~ ~
~ .. '" ~ '" .. 1 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ]
] ~ .~ " ;;; ~ ] 1
. ~ .] ] ~ ~ [ ~ i ~ t [
~! .. I] " • Ij .. ;; E
e .. I .. E j " " c .E E .'0 .0
MEum 7 1 2 1010 39 10
~MEOO7 1 4 2 1
FAROlO 22 5 12 10 II 13 2 2
AROl9 1 ~
AR02t) b , 4 10
HNK012 3 12 4-1
-ISL01S 18 'LO .>
[rotnl 24 10 40 1 4 1347 39 >I 4191 2 Table. 4: Occurrence of unsmoothed ceramic decoration type at Third Cataract sites

Two of the potsherd howed traces of impressed dots under [he combing. Probably a Ji h- pine with several point was u ed. This kind of decoration exists at Shaheinab, where it is described as incised and burnished (Arkell 1953: 73 . 11 i a typical feature of the Late

eolithi period, where it is u ually applied to a characteristic hole-mouth ovoid ve sel. It include the rippled pattern in Cane va' classification (Caneva 19 : 106-107).

3. 1. 3. Fine moothed Pottery:

Thi: clas: f pouery i distinguished by a sm lh surface which eerns 10 have been produced by moothing and poli hing the vessel with a tone or another object before firing. Some pecirnens are much better poli hed than others.

It i not alway' po sible to tell \ hether a given piece comes from the poli. hcd area near the rim or fr m the body of a wholl poli hed

54 Issue No. 12 July. 200S

ves sel. In many cases the polish is incomplete or uncertain. and there is doubt whether certain specimens should be assigned to ihi - clr s or the preceding one .

Mo I herd range in thickness between 4- 18mm. The texture is less den e, more compact. and finer than in [he coar e pottery decribed in the earlier section. Some pol herds were very fragile. normally with laminated fabric.

It i more difficult to reconstruct hape for thi cia s than for [he preceding one. Polished ware eerns [0 have been used for bowl and vessels of moderate size which were handled frequently. Many rim fragments indicate that a number of shapes were in constant u e.

Plain pot herds of thi class are sub-divided into the following ( ee table 5):


~ \jr


Fig 4: nsmoothed decor-lied herds: a-d, SMEOOI; e,r,l, fAROI9; g,j FAR020: b, FAROIO.

Neolithic Pottery from the Third Cataract (Mahas Region- Northern Sudan)

I. Plain black potsherds:

All the pot herd in this cia are mo thed, 20 potsherds of this pattern were collected.

2. Plain hrown potsherd :

The pot herd exhibit burni 'hing and are fairly brown to gray brown in colour. 5 potsherds were collected but it is doubted whether they all belong l the eolithic context ince 'ome very . moothed inci ed potsherd were found on the surface. uch brown and inci cd po herds are believed to be of a later period (contemporary with Kerma period). 3 of the e pot herd were found in FADOI3.

3. Plain grey and red pot herd :

Thi group includ 7 potsherd with gray or light red colour. The pot herds have some . moorhing with a hard interior.

3-2: Decoration:

Only 94 pot herd of the collection were decorated (Table 5). Decoration by impre ed d t i common. Tbe e include 10 impre ed

:1 .. , S ...... bc<l ron, no
• Plain D<c~"'N
9 29.
7 9
ISL .1.2

Ota ~ Table 5: moothed Pottery: umber of plain and decorated herd per site.

complex d lied straight lines. 6 impres. ed double dotted straight line, -I impre 'sed ingle d ued . traight line. and 1_ herds dec rated \ ith impre sed d t . The lines are u. ually parallel to each other. but ome time they are arranged to form unfamiliar design . and some time simple curves are introduced side by side with other element. . Impre sed Vee with

I ue '0. 12 July. 2005

dots is a unique pattern on three pot berd exhibiting trace' of dorted line between horizontally laid rows of ee .. It seem to be from a later . tage in the development of the pottery style.

Decoration \ ith incised lines is a1 0 common. 19 potsherds were collected. The e include 14 po herds with double incised lin and 5 po herd decorated with single incised line. The first pattern consists of clo ely and evenly paced in i ed horizontal r vertical line'. There are semi-circular line. clo ely spaced together which eern to have their ends attached LO the strip of in ised lines over them. The intervals between the line are 2 to 3 mm. The other pattern include one inci ed line forming a horizontal trip or band table 6. fig. 5, 6, 7). A mall number of potsherds with rippled pattern were also found. 7 potsherds were collected from SMEOOI, FARO I 9, FAR020. and SMWOI4.

6. Miscellaneou ceramic objects:

The e include 4 disc- haped ceramic artifacts found in SMEOOl and FAROIO. The are

hown in fig 7). The se piece eem to be fragments of pot covers. Although they are represented by only four pieces. there is n rea on to ay that they have come there by accid nt.

4. Di cu SiOD and conclusion

The following traits are ob er ed within the whole collection f potsherds:

a. TIle ceramic collection analy ed here hows wide range of variation from ite to ire. The number of po herd i tOO small for the regularity of a large random uunple to make it appearance. s might be expected, the variations are least in the classe whi h contain the largest number of pot herds.

b. General tendencies can be observed in the table of the com pari. on of the group'. Coarse and un rnoothed pottery i. above


Azhari Mustafa Sadlg

84. % of the total. Coarse pottery is fairly uncommon and ranges from 5.9% to 0.1 % of the total number of the potsherds ollected from each ite,

nsrnoothed pottery is very common and range from 19.2% to 0.5% of the 10UlI number of the pot herd collected Irorn the ires and is present on every ite, Smoothed ponery is never abun-

dam and repre ents l5.2% of the collection. The number of potsherds range between 6 and 21. These three cia ses are represented by small numbers of specimen, and the irregularity in percentages may be due to this fact alone.

c II
:.:; c: !!
z :: .=
.§ l: ::
.:9 ~
u; c: ._
:: E "
1l Ul ;;; ..
gj .. s ~
~ " " ~ ] ]
Site ~ ;§ -= .. ~
'" ~ .<: -e <: 0: s e
" .. ~il "g -i -e ." • e
c v ~ .. " i -
~ :§ 'f C '2 :0 " .. ] ~
l s !l j ~ ~ " ..
'i ;; a . .~ « s <i ~
-e 1 "g '" " I~
.E ] il 1: ~ 1 1 ] ~ ~ 1 l l
il ~ g 'Il '<3 1
~ ~ .5 .5 ·ll ~ [ ~
C. .t> - '" -e " " l ~
Q. " «- . N ~ N 5. ~ ti e- e, I~ ;;;
i:i? t8 ,~ ~ Ii '" E E .§ e = § f E C
ISMEOOl 3 I 2 I I I 2 I '2 14
ISME007 l 1 3 I I l 8
FARO 10 I '2 2 1 2 '2 1 2 1 14
FAR019 2 I I I 1 2 I 9
FAR020 I 2 1 1 1 I 1 I 1 10
FADOl3 1 1 t I I I I 7
HNKOl2 1 1 1 I 1 1 '2 8
iSMWOl4 t I 1 1 1 1 6
IMSLOlS 6 2 1 1 '2 12
IAMLOOt 2 1 I 2 6
rro1ai 7 14 5 10 I 2 6 1010 6 " 12 3 1 3 94 c. Ve el hape at the site include variety of open-mouth v I '. The favorite ve sel hapes seem to be a rnediurn-size open bowl and hemispherical ve el.

d. The decoration on the pot herds wa of ab tract type. Many decorative pattern were used. The mo t comm n

pattern i dotted decoration. All the Table 6: Types of smoothed decorated pottery per site.

other decorative motifs (i.e.. imple impression. zigzag, imple Vee) are Ie s common.

e. The favorite decorative technique at the Third Cataract Neolithic ites i the impre sion in aU it varietie . The e account for more than 52.5% of the total. The rocker technique ac-

ount for more than 19.3% of the total. The inci ed lines a COUnt for 16%, while the rippled and combed decorative panerns account for 15.6%. The eolithic site' of Shaheinab.

ofalab, Sarrorab and Geili offer a different panorama; the ro ker _ tamping con tirute a higher percentage: 45% 31 Geili (Caneva: 19 8). -8-72% at ofalab and arrorab (Magid 19 _. Mohammed Ali 1982). and 50% at Shaheinab ( rkell: 195). comparable occurrence f decorative patterns and/or tech-

56 Issue o. 12 July. 2005

niques is shown at the other Neolithic sites in the Central Sudan, especially at Zakiab and Urn Direiwa (Haaland: 19 7 . A slightly similar ituation. however, eems to characterize Kadero (Krzyzaniak 19 4) where the rocker stamping motif account for 36% of the total. and inci ed motif account for more than 18% (again t 16% at the I eolithic ires of the rudied area).

f. From the above descriptive analysis, it is clear that the Third Cataract ires ceramic asernblage are similar to other eolithic site.

The differen e occurring I) some sites deserve additional inve ligation and may be u eful in developing a temporal sequence. through a detailed study. for Third ataract potlery. Changes in the frequency of decoration may be

Neolithic Pottery from the Third Cataract (Mahas Region- Northern Sudan)



60 -


._ I __ • ._

Fig. 5:

due to the t tal number of the ollcction. The data uggest that additional temporal indicators could be the frequency of coarse or plain potsherd , and the frequency of unsmoothed

urface treatment.

The ignificance of the material found at the Third Cataract sites depend largely on its age. Since (he 'rudy of the ite h been achie ed through urface olle lion, no data required for e tabIi bing ab clute chronology are available. Nevertbel ,the only possible



Fig. 6: mocthed decorated pottery; a.d, FAROI9' b.c.F R01O: d. FR020' g,h. F DOl3; i, MEOOI.

Issue o. 12 July. 2005

way i the establi hment of relative chronology through the sherds collected from the urface,

Although the comparative rudy of artifacts type depend mainly on the personal judgment and plain comm n ense. this, however. i the

only po ible method available f r e tabli hing the relative chronology of the ites. It is not ea y 10 reach a

ati factory conclu i n on the ub-

jeer, There i no lack of evidence, but the evidence i conflicting. One set of facts indicate that the site are very old; ome of them contain

wavy line pottery. decorative pattern which can date back to the 10th millennium B.P in neighboring sites (Khabir 1987). Another set of facts indicate that the ite are contemporary to known early eolithic ites along the

ile and they are earlier than other kno n protohi toric cultures in northern udan (i.e., the

o-called A-group, C-group and Kerma civilizaiion). Each sugge tion i significant for the hi tory of the ites, It will be nec ary to examine all the e idence before reaching a renta-


,,' ~~"Z-' .,

,'6o .,

, ~


~ ~

o 2


Fig. 7: Di c- haped ceramic objects: a.c.d FAROIO; b, SMEOOI.


Azharl Mustafa Sadig

live conclusi n; a final conclu ion demand that further re earch in the field be undenaken.

lth ugh the data c llected from the . urface 0 the Third Cataract ite i badly disturbed, it still reflect variation and irnilarities between the Shaheinab site and the Third Cataract sites in term f pouery craft. manship, The e can be listed a follows:

B. be dotted wavy line pottery which provide. n e sential link between Khartoum Hospital ite and haheioab ite, i completely ab em from the Third Cataract ires. The porter predominant at these ires in-

luded developed types of impres ed ware, manufactured with high efficiency and even with greater variety.

b. The frequency of the burnished! rnoothed potsherd plain or decorated) is however high among the potsherds collected from

haheinab. Arkell (1953: 69) took burni bing a oe of the di tingui bing features of the baheinab pottery. According to Mohammed Ali (19 2: 79), there is no burni bed ponery at Shaheinab, and most of the pot herd were highly moothed bur were not poli hed, In the case of our ample. this i ab oluiely true. Many pot herds were moothed but there i n evidence of burni hing at the site .. The les er degree of

moothing n many other potsherd may be dUI! to the condition in which the pou herd were found.

c. The rocker techniques account for more than 19.3% f the total. The Neolithic ite of haheinab offers a different panorama; here the rocker stamping COli urutes a higher percentage (-0'1 at Shaheinab .

d. The Shaheinab pottery is generall_ thinner (4-6mm). It was also quartz tempered and was fired hard in a redu ing atrno phere. In

58 I ue I O. 12 July. 2005

eros - ection it is brov n to black in colour. Tbe . arne features were fouod in our ampies although the p rsherd were thicker.

When we compared our. arnples \ ith that

of Khartoum Ho pital ire we were able to find many difference. Evidently. the pottery of the Khartoum a ernblage i neither burnished nor poli hed, but quite often lipped on the outer

urface. The interior of tbe pot i normally moothed. yet with certain styles. uch as the coar e plain (pan of Arkell' "black fra lure" [1949j). it was left un mooihed. The de orati e pattern include wavy line. dotted wavy line', dotted straight lines ome zigzag de 0- ration, and linear impre 'ion . The wavy line decoration accounts for about 63.7% to 75. % of the total while the plain ware accounts for about 6.6 to 20.9% of the total. On the other hand, there are only 7 potsherds having wa y line decoration at the Third Cataract ire". Thi mean that the e sites are totally different from Khartoum Hospital ire and more related to Sbaheinab site.

When the Third Cataract ites are compared with Abkan and the Khartoum Variant in Lower ubia, major irnilarities and difference are found. The difference between Khartoum ariant and Third Cataract pottery indicate that they must be considered as separate traditions. The Khartoum Varian! is characterized by il. unburni hed impressed decoration ceramic. It i believed t be a local derivation from the

hamarkian and/or the Arkinian Final Paleolithic industries Shiner 196 a). \ hil t the two industrie exhibit imilaritie in certain ceramic styles e pecially zigzag impre 'ion and dotted traight lines), they al di ffer very markedly; for among the ceramic Ihe inci ed straight lines. the ees impre ion', the rippled ware and the rnoothed plain potsherds were absent from the Khan urn Variant. and the \ avy lin and the d ued wavy Line lyle- of Khartoum area were unknown in northern udan.

Neolithic Pottery from the Third Cataract (Mahas Reglon- Northern Sudan)

On the other hand. the bkan pottery fabric i described as having 'a relatively dense and hom gen u groundrnas containing a high proportion of silt' ( ord trorn 1972: 49). The fabric i fired LO colours ranging [Tom dark gray to grayi h brown r, in a few in. tances. black. It i generally characterized by coarse te Lure. If the urface is treated before firing, it is either burni hed or lightly rippled. A few pOL herd have the uter urface coated with red ochre (Shiner 19 b). Decoration is relatively carce, When it exists it consists mainly of parallel doued lines and zigzag impression . made with a rocker tamp ordstrom 1972: 74-77). The fabric at Myers Abkan ites V and LX were made of 'andy Nile ·ilt. The ware wa crudely combed or perhap wiped with gras . It wa fired to a black or fawn col ur (Myers 1960: 174-81).

In compari: on. the Third Cataract fabric

ugge t that they are made from andy clay and ile ilt varying from line to coarse depending on the amount of quartz included. Tbe ware ha thick wall . The majority of the pot-

herds are decorated and are fired to a brown or black colours. The decoration i characterized by irnpre ed dots. impressed combed. impressed complex dotted traight line . and zigzag . Other decorative pattern include impres ed Vee, rippled. and impressed wavy lines. am ng other .

Thi discu ion uggests the following main points:

a. The fabric. of the Third Cataract ire and the bkan ire are different. That of the Third ataract ires is andy clay r ile ilt and it i dark brown or black in colour.

That f Abkan has a nigh proportion of silty clay and it i dark in colour.

b. Third atamct pottery may be sm othed or

burnished in ome case. but no burni hed pot herds have come from any as emblnges of the Khartoum Variant group. On the contrary, the Abkan and Third Cataract sites

hared ome .irnilaririe in surface treatment (more than 15.2% of the pol herds were burni ned).

c. The great majority of Third Cataract p therd are decorated. while those of Abkan are relatively plain.

When the Third Cataract sites are compared with Karat; Tergis, and El-Melik indu trie in Korti-Debba area major difference arc found. Unlike the Third Cataract ites, the Tergi fabrics were tempered with quartz and lipped in red. one of the decorative design of the Third Cataract ite were known from the Tergi sites. On thi ba i the Third Cataract ires and the Tergi group can hardly be con 'ipered related to the same tradition.

Another group in the Korti-Debba region which could be compared with the Third Cataract it i the Karat gr up; it pottery lacks the incised traight line and rippl d ware f the Third Cataract site . The information availabl from El-Melik group of site in the same region doe not allow making reliable com pari on owing to the lack of detailed tudie of thi "group." Garcea (2000) re tudied this group and. uggested a late eolithi dille for it. rill the group lacks the rippled pottery and the decorative tyles that characterized the Third Catara t sites.

The general characteristics hared by the Third Cataract, Tergi and Karat ites rna be partly due to imilarities in ecological adaptations determined by the sirnil ririe in the environmental setting. De pite their general affinitie each of them has different diagno ti

. features, d they cannot be grouped into one

Dr. Azhari Mustafa Sadig - Department of Archaeology - University of Khartoum - Sudan.

1 ue o. 12 July. 2005


Azhari Mustafa Sadlg

~ .w_,... lV.....!.S .<t_,J.~I ...... ~ -.;ll"il rl V""';"')._,.....J.I UJ...a 'i)ll".ll ~I tJ>.!.l !,-,I_""~) J)U..'~ .s~I__.JI'~vll J~ 4'-- IV ",IS ,(._,.....J.I ~~ ..... ~I.~I) ..wWIJ)l..!JI .......... ~.~..J\;JIJ;ll..,;~ ;.. J.J.L J_p. J vl! ~I .~ ~ ~ .~I_,11 .;,..,. ~ w VA .~w....os, Jl_,11 ..,J! ,~I I;"'" ~ )~ .~..u.J1 ~l_;,,_lJ1 ~I ..:.L..~ ~ .~I.,.n 4,ll.:.:Jl Ji.>~ .~_,JI ~I J)l.;.. VAJ .~i vl! ~,..,. ~ .~~I .:.1Jo)l:.;. '11 ~._;;. ".I1"';4J1 ~ . .,I._,_JI ~ • .s~ ~I ~.....,..]I ",~I __.JI ~I,..,. ~ ~)4:....J • ..w\.!ll J)L.:JI ~IJ-".r

. .!.lWI J)L.!JI .:.4;L;.AJ ,.;l..j .. L..J.....j yfo ~.~ I.J§:. ~.~ ~W.! .:.L..I)J .~I_,11 ~ ~ .wlJo~ '1


Arkell. AJ. 1949. Early Khartoum, An account of the excav tion of on Early Occupation Site C mod out by the Sudan Govemment Antiquities ervice in 1944-4 , London. Oxford Uni ersiry Pre .

......... 1953. Shaheinab, An account of the excavation of a Neolithic occupation ite carried ut for ihe Sudan Antiquities ervice in 1949-50, London: Oxford Univer ity Press.

Caneva, I [ed.), 19 . El-Geili, the History of a MiddJe Nile Environment 7000 B.C. A.D. 1500. Cambridge

Ionographs in African rchaeolog __ 9. BAR lntcrnational cries 424. Oxford.

Caneva, I and M ks, A.E. 1990. "More on the Shaqndud pouery: Evidence for Saharo- ilotic Connections during the 6th-4lh MiUennium B.C" . Archeologie du j il Moyen 4. ssociaiion pour In Promotion de l'Archc:ologie ilotique. Lille. 1·26.

Edwards, D. " and 0 man, A_ 1992. The tahas Survey 1991. Interim Report and Site Inventory. Mab

urvey Reports 0_ I. Cambridge.

......... 1994 'Survey in the Maha: Region 1990. A preliminary Report', 'ubico m. PP. 275-90_

......... 1994b_ TIle Maha urvey 1990. lnterim Report and ue Inventory. M:Ut3. Survey Report 2. Cambridge.

_ ........ 2000. 'The Archaeology of Arduan Island-the Mah Survey 2000'. Sudan and. ubia, The udan Archa ologlcal Research ocrcty, Bulleun . o. 4. PP. 5 - 70.

Gareea, E. _000.' Late 'eolithic he near el-Kurru", In: Recent Research Into the tone Ago: of ortheastem Africa, Studies in frican haeology 7. Poznan rchae logical Museum. PP. 137-1~7 ..

H .. aland. R. 1987. Socio-economi Dltferentiauon in the Neolithic udan, 0 . ford: B R International cries 350. Cambridge Monographs 11\ African Archaeology 20.

60 Issue o, 12 Jul . 2005

Khabir, A. M. 19 7."1 ew Radiocarbon Dates for arurub 2 and the Age of the Early Kh rtourn Tradition" Current Amhr pology, 2 rs. PP: 377-380.

Krzyzaniak, L. 19 4. "The eolithic Habitation ar Kadero (Central Sudan)". In L. Krzyzaniak and M. Kobusiewicz (eds.): Origin and Early Development of FoodProducing Culture in onh-Easiern Africa. Poznan. 19 O. PP.309-31-.

Magid, A. E. 1982. The Khartoum Neolithic in the Light of Archaeborany: A Case Study from the l oflab and I • lang Sites. Unpublished M.A. Th is. Khartoum: University of Kh:utoum.

M hammed-Ali. A. S. 1991. "The Mesolithic and I eolithic ceramics from haqadud midden." In larks and Mohammed-Ali (eds), The Prehistory of the Eastern ahel. . M. U. Dallas.

1982. The eolithic Period in the Sudan. c. 6000-2500 BC. Cambridge Monograph in African Archaeology 6. BAR International Series 139. Oxford.

Myers. O. H. 1960 ." Abka Again". Kush. . Khartoum . PP. 174 - 181.1961.

ordstrom. H. . 197_. eolithic and A-Group ites, TIle Scandinavian Joint Expedition to Sudanese ubia, VoU. Scandinavian University Books. p alla.

. man. A. & Edwards. D. N. 2002. The ~Iahas Archaeological Survey. 2002. A Preliminary R pon. Cambridge. Cambridge.

Shiner. J. L. 1968:1. 'The Khartoum ariant Indu ·try". In Wendorf. F. (cd). The Prehi lOry of ubi. Vol. II. Dallas. PP. 768- 790.

Shiner, J. L. 196 b. "The Cataract Traditi n", In Wendorf', F. (ed). The Prehistory of Nubia. Vol. II. Dallas. PP. 535- 629.)

~ endorf. F. (ed), 196 . The Prehistory of, ubiu, vots.t and II. DaUas.