Source hunting for Medieval Central Sudan (Ca. 500 - 1500 AD)

Jul 2013
Great! Here is the deal: Due to the flooding that the Aswan dam would cause between the first and second Nile cataract, there were large scaled excavations during the 1960's. Most of the sites are published by now, except of Gebel Adda, one of the most significant sites at all. All we have for it are a couple of rudimentary preliminary reports by Nicholas Millet, the excavator of the region. Why is Gebel Adda so significant? That's because according to the Arab historian Maqrizi, the Makurian court was forced to relocate its seat from Dongola to Gebel Adda in 1365, while Dongola was left destroyed and appareantly in the hand of Muslims from then on. Gebel Adda was therefore the capital of terminal Makuria, from the previously mentioned date to around 1500. The published data from the preliminary reports attests such a late occupation. Indeed, the unearthed material was quite extensive, but the best part is that there was also a church, called church 7. It contained "a series of frescoes representing mounted saints in Byzantine dress", which are "well preserved at most points to a height corresponding to the lower chest of the major figures." Also paintings depicting other ecclestial scenes, like angels and the like were found, as well as depictions of bishops. The paintings are dated to 14th and 15th century and are therefore the most recent Nubian wall paintings we know about. They are of major significance. I need to know if these murals were saved and brought into the ROM or eventually an other museum. If they were not saved then there must be photos of them at very least, if not hand-drawn copies.
The person responsible for Gebel Adda is Krzysztof Grzymski, though I would expect him to have a team which is quite knowledgable about Gebel Adda as well.
If you could find out what happened to these murals and you are able to organize pictures of them that would be a breakthrough. Not even most experts in Nubian studies know about the state of the murals, or don't even know that they exist at all.

Further reads:

1) (Attests that Gzymski is responsible for Gebel Adda) Gebel Adda excavations: the unfinished story
2) (The preliminary report including the information about the frescoes) James Millet - Gebel Adda Preliminary Report, 1965-66
Thanks for the reply and the info. I didn't know anything about Gebel Adda and these murals, but now I'm interested! I visit the museum every now and then; I'll look out for this the next time I'm there.

(Sorry for the late response; I'd read your reply but I've been so busy with university work.)
May 2015
I screened the relevant parts of Beswicks book:

Summarized: The Dinka must have lived in the Alodian periphery, in the central Gezira, as linguistic affinity between Dinka and Nobiin, the successor of the Medieval Nubian Lingua Franca, as well as oral traditions attest. From the 13th century onwards and at the 15th century the latest, they started to migrate further south, possibly due to famines and Arabic slave hunters, which are attested (Oral traditions and the Funj chronicles) in the Gezira from at very least the mid 15th century onwards. They migrated along the White and Blue Nile, where they would meet the Funj. Maybe its even possible that it were the Dinka who forced the Funj to the north, which would make the Dinka a key player in Sudanese history.

I find all of this fairly interesting, especially the claim that "Nubians were our brothers and neighbours and we left them behind"-part. It's one of the very few oral traditions in modern Sudan which are not spoiled by made up Arabic genealogies to deny any pre-Islamic history (The Dinka remaining mostly pagan probably helped). I am optimistic that there must be more.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
Benin City, Nigeria
On the last page of the article by L.P. Kirwan that I posted on page 2 of this thread, the author states:

'Alwah seems rather to have had affinities with the black races of the southern Sudan. The Arab writer quoted above, contemporary with Ibn Tulun, remarks, "south of them ('Alwah) is another nation of blacks called Tikna (or Bukna). They and the 'Alwah are allied".
Are these Tikna people who were allied with the Alodians in the 10th century the same as the Dinka people? Or have they been identified as some other group?

If they are one and the same, then the 10th century alliance could be explained by the idea (which has apparently been preserved in oral tradition) that the two peoples really did consider themselves to be "brothers".
May 2015
Good catch. The similiarity between "Tikna" and "Dinka" is indeed seducing. However, keep in mind that, according to the Dinka oral traditions, they were still roaming around in the Gezira at this time. The Exodus further south did not happen for almost another 300-400 years. Anyway, I still included this part in my Wikipedia article. Would like to know what you think about it by the way. Personally, I am worried that it might become a bit too long, and that although I try my best to keep it as compact as possible.
May 2015
In the time of my absence I have more or less finished my Wiki article. The parts I am especially proud of are the history sub-chapters "Decline and fall" and "Aftermath". With my work I have increased the average views per day by more than 20% and the numbers still go upwards. Thus I think I could contribute my part to popularize this unjustifiably forgotten kingdom which was so important for Sudanese, but also African history in general.
Mar 2012
Just curious, what is the paper for? Are you a history major?

As already announced some days ago, I want to write a paper on the Kingdom of Alodia (Aka Alwa or Aloa), a Christian Nubian Kingdom which lasted from the 6th - early 16th century in what is now central Sudan. In contrast to Makuria the sources are fairly spare, especially archaeological ones. This won't prevent me from squeezing every single drop of all sources I can get in my hands. I want to use this thread to collect primary sources for Medieval Central Sudan and I am interested in all sources concerning Alodia itself and sources which can give an idea about the political, religious and social situation, like peripherical chiefs & kings claiming independence, Sudanese travellers / delegations and so on.
I believe there still might be fairly juicy stuff out there, it's just about getting all these tiny jigsaw puzzle pieces and putting them together. I am fairly optimistic that there is still stuff from...

- Egyptian archives (I have high hopes in Fatimid and Mameluke archives, first due to close and friendly relations to Nubia, second due to close, but not so friendly relations)
- unwritten Sudanese oral traditions
- Iranian, Arabic and other Muslim literature
- the Portuguese-Ethiopian block
- the Far East (India & China)

I would be happy about anyone who could suggest me even secondary literature, as long as its based on primary sources.

Now, let's see what we already have for sources:

1) John of Ephesus: "Ecclesiastical History" (Contemporary source about the Christianization of Alodia and whole Nubia)
2) Al-Yaqubi: "Kitab al-Buldan" (Short report about Makuria and Alodia from the late 9th century)
3) Ibn Hawqal: "Surat al-ard" (Important and comperatively comprehensive overview about Alodia, its habitants and organization, late 10th century)
4)Al-Aswani: "Akhbar al-Nuba wa al-Muqurra wa Alwa
wa al-Beja wa al-Nil" (Pretty much resembling Ibn Hawqal in every aspect, also 10th century)
5) Abu Salih al-Armani: "Tarikh al-Shaykh Abu Salih al-Armani" (Short summary on Alodia and its agriculture, late 12th-early 13th century)
6) Francisco Álvares: "Narrative of the Portuguese embassy to Abyssinia during the years 1520-1527" (Includes the important remaks that pre-Funj Sudan was fractured into "captaincies", also mentions a small Nubian delegation during the 1520's, possibly from Sennar).
7) Al-Fahal Al-Faki Al-Tahir: "[FONT=&quot]Tarikh wa usul al-‘Arab bi-s-Sudan" (Local traditions collected in Sudan concerning the terminal phase of Alodia. Published in English by Giovanni Vantini as "Some new light on the End of Soba")[/FONT]
8) The Funj Chronicles and the Abdallab oral traditions (Both are about the fall of Alodia, but slightly differ from each other. According to the Abdallab, they defeated Alodia before the Funj could penetrate into the area, but later on the Abdallab would voluntary subdue to the Funj. Both can be found in O' Faheys "The Kingdoms of the Sudan", for example)
9) Oral traditions from Fazughli, collected and published in Jay Spauldings "The Fate of Alodia" (Local legends about the flight of the Alodian court into Fazughli after Soba was conquered)

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