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I’m actually here. My feet on the same earth, eyes on the same ground. I stop when I reach the centre and just stand there for a while, see if I can feel a pull, something like the nomads must have felt: the ancestors’ final resting place, on the edge of empires. –
Jebel Marra by Michelle Green, Comma Press 2015

In light of Michelle Green’s upcoming book Jebel Marra (published by Comma Press), here is a list of archeological objects unearthed at the Jebel Moya site, south of Khartoum, in Sudan. Soon to be released, one of the short stories – titled Jebel Moya – is written from the perspective of a contemporary archaeologist working on the same area. Most of these objects were excavated at the beginning of the 19th century by pioneers such as Sir Henry Wellcome. Approximately 3000 tombs and a great amount of settlement debri were found. The objects are now housed in institutions such as: The Ashmolean Museum, The Wellcome Collection, The Petrie Museum and The Science Museum’s medical collections.


Lip Studs

Image courtesy of UCL, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

These lip studs are made from quartz and were excavated from a burial about 65cm below the surface. The jewellery, which belonged to a woman, was found still in position. (Addison 1949: 82-83)

Faience Beads

Image courtesy of UCL, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Image courtesy of UCL, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Thought to be imported from the Napatan empire, Faience beads are made from a glazed non-clay ceramic material, composed of crushed quartz or sand, with small amounts of lime and either natron or plant ash.

Bead necklaces

Image courtesy of UCL, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Beads are often made from ostrich eggs. This is the oldest known man-made bead, thought to originate in the African Middle Stone Age some 48,000 years ago.

Pottery

Image courtesy of UCL, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Image courtesy of UCL, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Pottery was found largely broken; sometimes in graves, sometimes in settlement debris. Most of the pots were decorated. The earliest pottery found was about 4500 BC. Some of the designs have been incised on the surface by a sharp instrument

Iron Objects

Image courtesy of UCL, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Image courtesy of UCL, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Copper and iron objects were dated to around 800 – 100 BC. These ornaments were found almost exclusively in graves alongside metal weapons and some tools were found in settlement areas.

Wood Tablet

Wellcome Library, London

Image courtesy of Wellcome Library, London

This object is made from carved wood and the engravings relate to Moses and Pharoah.

Neolithic Feeding Cup

Neolithic infant feeding cup, Africa, 1000 BCE-400 BCE

Image courtesy of Wellcome Library, London

Infants sucked liquids through the conical spout of this simple earthenware feeding cup. It was excavated in 1912 from the grave of twin children in Jebel Moya, Sudan, where Henry Wellcome funded and led a major archaeological expedition.


One of the papers I read called it a site of collective memory: the fulcrum of the nomads, a place that rooted them to each other, and to their past through remembering. I wonder how many remembered it. For how long? Wellcome’s old pits lie empty, all that might speak long since removed.-

Jebel Marra by Michelle Green, Comma Press 2015


In Green’s story – one of , the archeological element is only one side of a very complex narrative involving: family history, legacy, war and death. Jebel Marra, is a collection of short stories, written after she spent six months working for a humanitarian aid agency in West Darfur. This collection of short stories explores some of the complexities of the ongoing war in Darfur, and draws upon some of Green’s own experiences as witness as well as her subsequent research. Though the stories are fictional, they are all rooted in a particular time and place, and informed by the day-to-day realities of life in a time of chaos and horror.

Jebel Marra by Michelle Green will be published by Comma Press in 2015

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