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The archaeology of South Sudan from c. 3000 BC to AD 1500

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Kay, DK 
Lunn-Rockliffe, S 
Davies, MIJ 


This paper reviews the current state of archaeological research within the boundaries of the modern country of South Sudan, with a particular focus on the period between c. 3000 BC and AD 1500. While various historical factors and more recent political unrest have long stymied concerted archaeological efforts in the region, such surveys as have been undertaken are summarised and synthesised here, most notably the four expeditions funded by the British Institute in Eastern Africa between 1977 and 1981. Though scant, the data recovered during these and other research projects point to great diversity within the archaeological record of South Sudan, highlighting the region’s importance for addressing such large-scale issues as the transition between (or indeed the co-occurrence of) Later Stone Age and Early Iron Age lifeways, including the spread of pastoralism, arable agriculture and iron-working technology from northern to eastern Africa. The region likewise appears to have been central to the occurrence of large-scale population movements during both the Early and Later Iron Ages. However, we also emphasise the relevance of the archaeology of this period for better understanding more localised trajectories of socio-cultural change, particularly for adding time-depth to historical narratives of relevance to contemporary South Sudanese communities.



South Sudan, Pastoralism, Iron Working, Migration, Cultural Development

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Informa UK Limited