About InBetween


INBETWEEN is a theory-driven, comparative reassessment of the Middle Nubian cultures (C-Group, Pan-Grave, and Kerma) during the Second Intermediate Period (c. 1750–1500 BC). The project operates in the liminal spaces between the groups to re-evaluate their relationships with one another, asking how they are the same, how they are different, and if imposed modern cultural divisions are valid. Material culture takes the focus, and an analysis of the relevant chaînes opératoires using cultural phylogeny, entanglement, and border theory will identify shared or differing technological heritages that may reflect corresponding cultural relationships.

The project challenges modern constructs of the Middle Nubian cultures as bounded cultural entities: how did the ancient Nubians perceive their own cultural boundaries? how fluid were they? A deep theoretical investigation of the processes driving cultural change will address questions of how and why cultural components crossed boundaries in certain situations, and what impact this had upon each group’s identity.

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Classic Kerma beakers. ©A. de Souza. Courtesy Museum Gustavianum.

Research collaborations exploring the application of archaeological and anthropological theory will further expand my skillset in new directions, building my European network. The theoretical framework makes the project relevant to multiple disciplines, and the resulting monograph and publications will serve as a methodological case study for archaeologists and anthropologists alike. By examining the Middle Nubian cultures in their own right, the project breaks down the boundary between Egyptology and African studies, resituating the Middle Nubians into their broader northeast African context.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 796050.

About the author

Aaron de Souza is an archaeologist specialising in Nubian material culture of the Second Millennium BC. He obtained his PhD at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, with a dissertation on the ceramic traditions of the so-called Pan-Grave archaeological culture.

Aaron is a currently the Nubian ceramics specialist with the Tell Edfu Project (The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago), and has an ongoing involvement with the Hierakonpolis Expedition (University of Oxford), where he recently excavated two of the last remaining Pan-Grave cemeteries. Aaron has previously worked as ceramicist with the Dendara Necropolis Project (Macquarie University), and with the Helwan Project (Macquarie University). Aaron has also conducted extensive museum-based research at the Museum Gustavianum (Uppsala University, Sweden), and at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago.

For more information and a CV, visit Aaron’s Academia profile.

Selected Publications:
de Souza, A. (2019) New Horizons: The Pan-Grave ceramic tradition in context, Middle Kingdom Studies 9, London: Golden House Publications.

de Souza, A. (2018) “Paint it Black: Nubian and Egyptian black-topped pottery of the late Second Intermediate Period and early-New Kingdom”, Cahiers de la Céramique Égyptienne 11, Paris: Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 75-90.

de Souza, A. (2013) “The Egyptianisation of the Pan-Grave Culture. A New Look at an Old Idea”, Bulletin of the Australian Centre for Egyptology 24, 109-126.

Liszka, K. and de Souza, A. (forth.) “The Pan-Grave and the Medjay: At the Intersection of Archaeology and History”, in G. Emberling and B. Williams (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Nubia, New York: Oxford University Press.

de Souza, A. (forth.) “Among the First: The Pan-Grave cemeteries at Hierakonpolis, HK47 and HK21A”, in B. Bader, C. Knoblauch and L. Hulkova (eds) Second Intermediate Period Assemblages: The Building Blocks of Local Relative Sequences of Material Culture. Proceedings of the International Round Table in Vienna, June 21st – 23rd, 2017, Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Aaron with a Nubian cooking pot at Tell Edfu, Egypt.
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