William Y. Adams on "Take it from the bottom: 1500 years of Nubian history told through stratigraphy"

How do archaeologists excavate a site that was occupied for thousands of years? What can the accumulated layers of construction and debris tell us about the past? Archaeologist William Y. Adams of the University of Kentucky explores these questions in his talk, “Take it from the bottom: 1500 years of Nubian history told through stratigraphy.”

The archaeological site of Meinarti, destroyed by flooding from the Aswan High Dam, was situated on an island in the Nile just to the south of Egypt, in the region known historically as Nubia. Before excavation it was an artificial mound more than 40 feet high.  Excavation revealed no fewer than 18 occupation levels, covering a span from about AD 1 to AD 1500. The remains were those of six separate episodes of occupation, separated in each case by considerable periods of abandonment. As a result, each occupation phase witnessed a total rebuilding, and was markedly distinct from both its predecessor and its successor. Each reflected the cultural, social, and religious traditions of its times.

In this lecture, Dr. Adams, the excavator of Meinarti in 1963-64, will conduct viewers through the successive occupation phases not in stratigraphic but in historical order; that is, from the bottom up. In that way the markedly different architectural and artifactual remains will illustrate the dynamically evolving story of Nubian history from pagan to Muslim times, reflecting influences from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Islamic caliphate, grafted onto a strong, persisting local tradition.​

William Y. Adams is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky. The author of Nubia, Corridor to Africa, which has been acclaimed by the Nubian people as their national epic and translated into Arabic, he has been decorated with the Order of the Two Niles by the government of Sudan.

Take it from the bottom: 1500 years of Nubian history told through stratigraphy is part of an ongoing series of Lectures in Archaeology presented by the Kentucky Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, in collaboration with the University of Louisville Departments of History and Anthropology. More information about the series is available at http://www.kyarchaeology.com.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 6:00pm

Ekstrom Library, Chao Auditorium
2215 S. 3rd Street , Louisville, Kentucky 40208

Event Type

Talk, Academic


Students, Faculty/staff, Alumni, Public


Arts & Sciences, Anthropology, Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society, History, Honors, Humanities, Liberal Studies, Pan-African Studies, College of Arts & Sciences, Middle East & Islamic Studies






archaeology; ancient world; Africa; Nubia

Contact Name

Jennifer Westerfeld

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