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Sudan and Egypt - Frontier Wanderings. Church Decoration in the Aswan Region and in Lower Nubia (6th-15th century)

 Frontier Wanderings. Church Decoration in the Aswan Region and in Lower Nubia (6th-15th century).

POLONEZ 3 Project 2016/23/P/HS3/04153


Gertrud J.M. van Loon

Dobrochna Zielińska


This lecture is the first presentation of a new two year project of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw.

Our study is simultaneously an investigation of the development of the iconographical programmes in churches in the Aswan region and Lower Nubia and, in a wider context, an analysis of cultural and religious exchange, early flows of people, images and ideas across a porous border in late antique and medieval times.

In the Aswan region, churches and monastic buildings and their painterly decoration show mainly an established Egyptian Christian tradition. Lower Nubia has a remarkable high number of documented churches of which relatively many have preserved wall paintings. Murals and compositions in these churches demonstrate characteristics of Christian Egyptian themes, although interpreted and combined in an iconographical programme that shows substantial differences with the decoration of churches in Egypt. After the unification of Nobadia with southern Makuria, Dongola, the new capital, took a leading role in cultural affairs and as such, has also influenced church building and decoration.

In this project, we are looking at this area from two angles, the Egyptian and the Nubian traditions. This is essential for understanding the cultural processes that have led to the creation of unique and distinctive programmes of church decoration in Nubia and have introduced elements in the Aswan region that cannot be explained from an Egyptian point of view.

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