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Tombos (Sudan)



The archaeological site of Tombos is a New Kingdom period colony in Nubia (present-day Sudan). The settlement had an interesting history, to say the least. Tombos had a cosmopolitan population made up of local Nubians who were militarily occupied by the Egyptians during the New Kingdom. The population of Nubians eventually evicted the Egyptians, and established the Napatan Dynasty who themselves ruled Egypt as the 25th dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period.

Scholarly debate about Tombos concerns who really ruled there during the New Kingdom; some believe that it wasn't Egyptian overlords, but rather the Egyptians incorporated Nubians into the upper echelons of Egyptian government and society.

The cemetery at Tombos contains several Egyptian-style mudbrick chambers and shaft tombs, and date between the mid-18th dynasty to the third Intermediate Period. Archaeological investigations into the cemeteries of Tombos have been conducted by Stuart Tyson Smith at the University of California Santa Barbara. Studies included cranio-facial comparisons and strontium isotope analysis provide support for the notion that both local and non-local persons acted as colonial agents in Tombos.


Stuart Tyson Smith's website at UC Santa Barbara Nubia contains more information about this interesting site.

Buzon, Michele 2006 Biological and ethnic identity in New Kingdom Nubia. Current Anthropology 47(4):683-695.

Buzon, Michele R., Antonio Simonetti, and Robert A. Creaser 2007 Migration in the Nile Valley during the New Kingdom period: a preliminary strontium isotope study. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:1391-1401.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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