The artifacts in the exhibition span a 3,500-year range and document the rise and fall of a series of Nubian kingdoms, an advanced civilization whose history was as long and complex as that of Egypt.
Salvage projects necessitated by the construction of the Aswan Dam in the 1960s saved a number of Nubian monuments from destruction by inundation and enhanced the knowledge of ancient Nubia tremendously. It was not until 1978, in a joint project organized by the Brooklyn Museum and the Loewey Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, that a major exhibition presented this aspect of African history to the public.
The exhibition places ancient Nubians and their civilization in a new historical context, offering visitors a well-founded perspective on this little-known African civilization. Nubians in the Bronze Age, from about 3100 BC to 1000 BC, are usually thought of as divided into small chiefdoms, with the partial exception of the Kingdom of Kush in the Middle Bronze Age, says David OConnor, curator of the exhibition.
However, he continues, recent research suggests that large kingdoms arose in Nubia much earlier than is generally thought. Over the centuries Nubians and Egyptians competed for power and advantage throughout the vast Lower Nile region, from the Mediterranean Sea south to the sixth Cataract in the Sudan. The powerful and centrally organized early Nubians were truly Egypts rivals in Africa.
In the exhibition, a wide variety of artifacts, including ceramic vessels, jewelry, and statuary and funerary inscriptions document the rise and fall of a series of Nubian kingdoms, the richness and variety of their indigenous cultures and the complicated relationships they had with the pharaonic state of Egypt. Exhibition artifacts span a 3,500 year range and come from different regions of the culturally diverse Nubian civilization.
This exhibition is supported, in part, by funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the International Institute and the Office of the Vice President for Research.
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is open 9 a.m.4 p.m. Tues.Fri. and 14 p.m. Sat.Sun. Admission is free (a contribution is suggested). For information, call 764-9304.