‘Ottoman’ Nubia – the last 500 years

Following the Ottoman conquest of Egypt, full control of southern Egypt seems to have been established late in the reign of Suleiman I, c.1560; with Ottoman control extending as far south as the Second Cataract, within the ‘Sanjak of Ibrim’. In the early 1580s the frontier seems to have been pushed south as far as the Third Cataract, and another military garrison established on Sai island. A number of sites likely to be linked with the Ottoman military have now been identified north of the Third Cataract, including several within the Batn al-Hajar. Recognisable by their regular architectural forms, and construction with distinctive large flat mudbricks, several such sites were recorded by the ASSN. Some reoccupy medieval settlement sites, others appear to have been new foundations.

F485010 Diffinarti 21-N-19 copy F484012 21-N-19 copy

A general view and detail of one building (constructed in distinctive large tabular mudbricks) on the seasonal island of Diffinarti/Abu Mulgum (Akasha); a site investigated  by J. Knudstad, in May 1968.

21-N-19 panview

View of Diffinarti [site 21-N-19], from southeast.

Just below the Dal cataract, on the seasonal island of Kanarti (Koonarti) close to the west bank, a late medieval ‘tower house’ (21-V-16), three-storeys high, was also examined by J. Knudstad, in 1968. This structure clearly continued in use in later centuries and was incorporated into a fortified post-medieval complex, built mainly in stone and jalus. Located on a granite ridge this seems likely to survive today , the rest of the island today being farmed, on alluvium laid by raised flood levels.

View of postmedieval fortified complex (21-V-16) on seasonal island of Kanarti (Koonarti), downstream of Dal cataract; view from lowwr ground to east, where there were traces of further water-damaged structures, of uncertain date.
Postmedieval fortified house (21-V-16) on the seasonal island of Kanarti (Koonarti), downstream of Dal cataract. The core of the structure was a large late medieval three-storey building. View from southwest.

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