Alexandria Digital Research Library

Sociopolitical structure and the regeneration of the Meroitic state between the 5th cataract and Khartoum

Ali, Mohamed F.
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Anthropology
Degree Supervisor:
Stuart T. Smith
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Social identity
Political structure
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2016

Researchers, with no convincing evidence, have argued that tribal movements within the Meroitic territory and the Axumite invasion from the east (Ethiopia) caused the collapse of the Meroitic state. Here I consider the nature of the political economy in order to provide a better understanding of the collapse and the regeneration of the Meroitic state. I employ theoretical frameworks to the collapse of the Meroitic state, c. 350 B.C.-A.D.350, and regeneration during the Post Meroitic period (4th century to 7th century AD). I investigate how the nature and the manifestation of Meroitic sociopolitical power changes during and after the collapse of the Meroitic state.

I study mortuary practices and settlement patterns to determine changes in local identity and social roles that reflect the integration and/or lack of integration of the hinterlands in the Meroitic and Post Meroitic sociopolitical systems. The data is gathered through archaeological survey and test excavations on the west bank of the river Nile and the periphery in the eastern hinterland, including previous publications about the same subject.

I demonstrate that local elites on the east bank re-established a polity based in the old Meroitic settlements and redeployed Meroitic symbols to legitimize and reinforce their authority and power. The sedentary elites in the east hinterland served to create and maintain economic and political power for the Meroitic state in the region. The nomads were most probably not assimilated in the Meroitic culture. However, cultural and economic interconnections between the river Nile and the east hinterland continued after the decline of the state and suggest the involvement of certain eastern people in the regeneration of a polity on the east bank.

The locals on the west bank were not well integrated into the Meroitic sociopolitical system. They eventually became a real threat that impacted the Meroitic central power together with the Axumite threat from the east and the economic recession in the Mediterranean market. Elites on the west bank would have taken advantage of the weakness of the Meroitic central power and manipulated trade networks and formed local alliances that led to political and economic independence.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (444 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Mohamed Ali
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