This project examines the role that different archaeological approaches to material culture and technology may have in understanding cultural and historical relationships.
In doing so it examines the concept of boarders and bounded space both in a geographic sense, but also as more abstract culturally and/or archaeologically defined entities. Geographically the region of Lower Nubia spans the modern political boarders of Egypt and Sudan, but the long archaeological and historical records of this region attest to the fluidity of this boundary through the ever-fluctuating social, economic, political and cultural interactions between the wider Mediterranean world and Sub-Saharan Africa. However the culture-history of this region, especially during prehistory, is also a construction of born of 20th century archaeological methods and perspectives with its emphasis on defining distinct cultural and historical groups. The significance of these 'archaeological boundaries' in the creation of a particular history of this region have not been critically examined previously, but instead have become enshrined within a methodological conservatism.
Taking the specific case of the late Neolithic / early Bronze Age transition in the Lower Nubian Nile Valley, this project examines how the novel application of science based approaches to material culture, integrated with wider considerations of social and cultural factors, can result in alternative understandings of the extent of intra- and inter-cultural variation. Preliminary results of this on-going project challenge the validity of previous cultural models, suggesting instead more complex patterns of regional diversity and cultural continuity. These findings, in turn, may call for reappraisals not only of the wider historical and political interactions between Egypt and Nubia in the early 3rd millennium BC, but also of the manner in which archaeologists themselves choose to examine the archaeological record.