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Polysaccharide Paint Binding Media at Two Pharaonic Settlements in Nubia

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Fulcher, K 
Budka, J 
Stacey, RJ 


jats:pPaints and plasters from two pharaonic settlement sites in Nubia (northern Sudan) were analysed to investigate the presence and origin of organic binding materials. The town of Sai was founded around the time of the pharaonic conquest of Kush (Upper Nubia) around 1500 BC, with Amara West created as a new centre for the pharaonic administration of the region around 1300 BC. Recent fieldwork at both sites yielded examples of paint palettes, including several from houses. These provide a different economic and social context to funerary contexts upon which most previous research has been conducted, making this study the first to report on binding media for vernacular architecture in the Nile Valley. It is also the first study of binding media from Nubia. Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of methanolysed and silylated paint and plaster samples revealed a range of monosaccharides present in eight of the seventeen samples from Amara West, and in six of the seven samples from Sai. Interpretation of the data was supported by field collection and study of locally available botanical gums. The results indicate that mixtures of gums were in use as a pigment binder at both sites during the mid- to late-second millennium BC. The possibility that some of these plant gums could have been imported from the Mediterranean is also posited.</jats:p>



archaeology, Egypt, Nubia, pigment, botany, gums, colonialism, urbanism, technology

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European Research Council (FP/2007-2013)
Arts and Humanities Research Council (1350956)