Stepping aside from the academic habits of archaeological writing, I have chosen to write this page in the first person. As explained in The Project description page, this website compiles the stories – big and small – that brought grave SJE350/II to be. It would be foolish to miss that it is yet another chapter of the tale.
My name is Elsa Yvanez and I am an archaeologist specialised in the textile production of ancient Sudan and Nubia, in the chaîne opératoire and economic significance of spinning and weaving, as well as in the use of textiles for clothing and burial. After finishing my PhD at Lille university (France), I became a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Centre for Textile Research (University of Copenhagen), where I conducted from 2018 to 2020 the TexMeroe project with the support of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the grant agreement n°743420 (www.texmeroe.com).
The present website was born out of my study stay at Uppsala in 2018, working on the SJE textiles at the Gustavianum museum and discussing the potential of the collection with curator Ludmila Werkström.
My own contribution is very modest and mainly consisted of bringing together the many voices that built and shared the story of this grave and its material. Through descriptions, records, and items, the reader will see some of them quoted. I sometimes even chose to upload entire excerpts of the SJE publications, as nobody but the original actors could better convey the formidable history of the archaeological expedition.
If I created the site, the authors of its content are many. They all deserve acknowledgement and gratitude. Here they are, from modern to past times:
- Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum (Sweden): Emma Hocker (senior conservator), Ludmila Werkström (curator), and John Worley (curator)
- Arkeologisk Museum, University of Stavanger (Norway): Åsa Dahlin Hauken (conservator, archaeologist and curator), Annette Øvrelid (photographer)
- University of Copenhagen, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies – ToRS: Martin Thygesen (alumni and research assistant), Mortiz Kinsel (archaeologist)
- University of Copenhagen, Department of Forensic Medicine: Niels Lynnerup (head of department), Marie Louise S. Jørkov (acting head of the Laboratory of Biological Anthropology and Collections)
- University of Copenhagen, Centre for Textile Research – Saxo: the entire team, for their constant professional help and personal support.
- University of Copenhagen, IT department: Jonas Rank Møller (Head of Research Support at KU-IT), Tim Frederik Olsen (IT-specialist). All my gratitude goes especially to Tim for his always prompt and helpful responses, and his work on installing Omeka on UCPH’s server. Many thanks to the University of Copenhagen for accepting to host the site on their server.
- Ingrid Bergman: Incredibly talented and knowledgeable textile expert who studied the SJE textile collection and wrote their extremely helpful catalog. To this day, Late Nubian Textiles remains a cornerstone of textile studies, enriched with in-depth analyses and fantastic technical drawings by Kerstin Adde-Johansson. Ingrid Bergman was assigned to the SJE project from 1965 to 1975, as part of her curator’s duties at the Textile Department of the Central Office of National Antiquities in Stockholm. She then went on to be employed as curator in the Textile Department at Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum) and finished her career as Head of the Collections department. Her book has been my constant companion for now more than 10 years of textile research. Several excerpts are reproduced here.
- Agnes Geijer: Grande dame of Nordic textile research, Agnes Geijer was head of the Textile Department of the Central Office of National Antiquities in Stockholm when the SJE collection arrived in Sweden. She organised and was responsible for the comprehensive conservation work of more than 6,000 textile fragments, seconded by a talented team of conservators, photographers and textile experts.
- Torgny Säve-Soderberg: Professor Säve-Soderberg was the first Scandinavian scholar to participate, in 1960, in the UNESCO Nubian Survey when he conducted a reconnaissance survey for the future Scandinavian Joint Expedition. He then became the president of the Swedish national SJE committee and the chairman of the SJE Action Committee in charge of coordinating the field work and ensuing research. He worked tirelessly for the success of the expedition, in Stockholm as well as in the field, where he acted as field director in 1962-64. Last but certainly not least, he coordinated the extraordinary editorial efforts that led to the publication of 9 volumes of site reports and object catalogs, making SJE one of the most prolific archaeological enterprise either conducted in Sudan and Nubia.
- Gunvör Betting: Press-photographer, Gunvör Betting traveled through the Middle East and down the Nile River with her brother Erik Betting and friend Jørgen Fastholm from 1961 to 1963. Their stated purpose was to participate to the SJE mission in Nubia but they also recorded fascinating glimpses of daily life through their travels. Gunvör appears as a team photographer on the 1963’s staff list, from the 17th of January to the 27th of March. Part of her photographic archives are now curated at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, UCPH.
- The archaeological team who excavated cemetery 350 on behalf of the expedition: directed by Gunborg Ohlson (Sweden), archaeologist in charge of the excavation of cemetery 350 and author of the plans and report. Physical anthropologist Ole Vagn Nielsen was also present on site during the excavation and seems to have briefly observed the osteological remains.
- The “local labourer” (to quote the 1960s reports), the big absentees from the archives, but whose tireless work can easily be perceived on the pictures as well as on all the other records.
Disclaimer: My experience in archaeology and digital media is limited to my own use – for research and leisure – of mainly museum collection databases. I am not so familiar with this type of structure-oriented approach. As much as possible, I tried to stay transparent about my approach and work process; choosing to put copies of first-hand accounts and documents instead of my own transcriptions, so the reader can make his or her own version of the story. I am sure that many have thought in greater lengths about archaeological dissemination online – its potential and its limits – and I welcome their feedback.