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Department of Archaeology


As part of the international campaign to salvage sites threatened by construction of the second Aswan High Dam in southern Egypt, coordinated by UNESCO, researchers from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland collaborated on a series of archaeological campaigns between 1960 and 1964. Known as the Scandinavian Joint Expedition to Nubia, or SJE, this work generated a wealth of data and prompt publication of nine major excavation reports. Such international collaboration is unique in the history of Scandinavian archaeology, and had foundational consequences for the subsequent careers of several of those who participated, inspiring some to specialise in African archaeology, while others gained prominence in Egyptology and others in osteoarchaeology.

The concession awarded to the SJE was one of the largest granted, extending approximately 60 km north-south covering c. 150 km2 extending along the eastern bank of the Nile, with arbitrary inclusions of islands, from Faras near the Egyptian border south as far as Khor Abu Dom just upstream of the Second Cataract. Many of the finds, including human osteological material, were exported from the Sudan and are now housed in museums and institutional repositories in all four countries, accessible for further study. Yet, despite this rich and readily available corpus of material and accompanying field records and photographs, over recent decades Nordic involvement in Nubian archaeology has dwindled, as has the number of Scandinavians actively involved in African archaeology more generally.

With funding from the Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS), this project aims at reinvigorating interest in and research on these collections. As a first step, the project is running three workshops, held at institutions holding material from the SJE campaigns. These are aimed at exploring the interconnections between sub-Saharan Africa, Nubia and Egypt, and through accompanying theoretical and practical masterclasses to encourage early stage researchers from Nordic countries to engage with African archaeology.

Funding: Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS), 2018-20.

External Collaborators:

  • Dr Angus Graham, Department of Archaeology & Ancient History, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • Ludmila Werkström, Gustavianum Musuem, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • Professor Per Ditlef Fredriksen, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, Norway.
  • Dr Rachael Dann, Egyptian & Sudanese Archaeology, University of Copenhagen.

Image: Some of the ceramics recovered during the SJE campaign, Gustavianum Museum, Uppsala. Photo: P. Lane.


 Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Project Lead

Project Tags

Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Material Culture
Periods of interest: 
Copper/Bronze Age
Iron Age
Other Prehistory
Geographical areas: 
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Museum Studies
Material Culture
Artefact Analysis & Technology
Archaeological Theory
Field Methods
Heritage Management
Environmental Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, and Landscape studies
Cultural Heritage
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