Ceramics and Jewelry uncovered by the Polish Mission
(QSAP12) in the Grave Mounds of Zuma
Mission QSAP-12 from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, affiliated with Warsaw University, is currently working at Zuma in the Northern State, 390km north of Khartoum on a project entitled “Early Makuria”. Currently, its work concentrates on a large cemetery consisting of 29 grave mounds.
Although the graves at Zuma were heavily plundered for valuable objects, pottery had not been of primary interesting for the robbers. This is why significant amounts of ceramics were recovered from these tombs during the excavations. Typical types of pottery from the mounds of Zuma range from handmade , so-called “beer” jars or “beer” bottles and cooking pots to wheel-made small bowls and cups. While the assemblage in smaller mounds (Type III) consisted of a few vessels, in larger tumuli of (Type II) the range of ceramics was much more abundant and included also imported pottery, mainly from Egypt.
Beyond ceramics , the remains of personal adornments such as beads, pendants, and elements of jewellery) not only give us an idea how rich the original burials must once have been, they also provide a broad overview of the materials and techniques used in the production of elite objects. The beads and pendants were made of marine mollusk shell, ostrich eggshell, stone, faience, glass and metal-in-glass. Faience dominated the bead assemblages at El-Zuma.
Among the stone specimens there are tear-drop pendants as well as truncated conical and ellipsoid beads. Small beads were made of red glass.
From among the finds, the following are most prominent:
A golden earring consisting of two parts, a hoop and a pendant, soldered together with an alloy.
The chain is a fragment made of copper-alloy or copper-rich gold, in the form of a basic single loop-in-loop chain. It has two cross-shaped elements: a perforated cross with flared arms threaded onto the chain, and a decorated cross with wire loops at its ends attached to the chain.
A gold or copper-rich gold fingerring with lozenge-shaped bezel, set with mosaic glass. The glass-inlay is made of mosaic glass in a checkerboard pattern of yellow, red, white, and black.
Finally, there are two rosette plaques probably made of debased gold sheets. The rosettes were punched with a patrix on a mould and consist of 17 petals. They are perforated in the middle. Both examples have a nail driven through the perforation.