Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean — 16.2004(2005)

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MtoM - ZUMA

SUDAN

chambers. The lamb was found in chamber
2, while the bones of sheep and camel were
discovered in both chambers 2 and 3 of the
tomb. The finds from the fill in chamber 1
(one camel bone and bird bone) should be
considered as doubtful, tenably represent-
ing a secondary deposit.
The morphological examination of the
sheep indicated that the species was very
near to animals identified at other sites da-
ted to the same period (cemetery on Saffi
island). A comparison of osteometric data
[Table 3} reveals that the same kind of
sheep, the thin-tailed Sudan Desert type,
was bred in medieval Dongola, as well as in
modern times.5
Marks observed on the bones leave no
doubt that the animal carcasses had been care-
fully quartered and filleted, obviously pre-
paring the choicest cuts of meat. The fil-
leting on the costa bones of sheep and ca-
mel is interesting to note as it suggests that
the meat had been separated from the bone
before being deposited in the grave. Perhaps
the animal remains were not so much gifts for
the dead as leftovers from a funeral banquet.6

It would also explain why the remains were
found in different chambers and not in
anatomical order.
Faunal remains from one of the tumuli
in the ez-Zuma necropolis were at once typ-
ical and exceptional. Bones of small rumi-
nants, like sheep or goat, are fairly com-
mon on archaeological sites. Indeed, there
is practically no post-Meroitic cemetery in
the Fourth Cataract region where bones of
these animals would not be found in the gra-
ves. Yet these are most often innumerous as-
semblages, consisting of a few bones only and
the ez-Zuma material is relatively abundant
in this respect. It represents two individual
animals, whose carcasses were butchered
specifically for consumption purposes. The
presence of camel bones, evidently intended
for consumption as well, is definitely a much
rarer find. Interestingly, the considerable
demand for choice meat in this case was
satisfied not with beef, but with camel meat.
Further research at the cemetery in ez-
Zuma should prove of significance for
studies of the animal population and their
role in the funerary rites.

Table 3 ■ Selected osteometric values for sheep from tivo Post-Meroitic cemeteries (Safii and ez-Zmna), Kom A
in Old Dongola (Christian period) and modem animals from the Dongola Reach (all research by
the author working for PCMA expeditions to Uli and Saffi islands and Old Dongola)

Bone
Measurement
ez-Zuma
Saffi
Old Dongola
modern
Scapula
GLP
31 mm
31 mm
31mm
-
Scapula
SLC
15 mm
16 mm
18 mm
-
Talus
GLm
27 mm
26 mm
27 mm
27.5mm
Talus
GLI
28 mm
27 mm
28 mm
30mm
Talus
Bd
17 mm
17 mm
18 mm
18mm
Calcaneus
GL
50 mm
47 mm
64 mm
57 mm

5 H. Epstein, The origin of the domestic animals of Africa (Leipzig 1971).; cf. M. Osypinska, "Animal bone remains from
Old Dongola", PAM XV, Reports 2003 (2004), 224-230.
6 P. Lenoble, "A preliminary study of 'burial customs' of religious and political significance during late Meroitic times
in the Sahelian Nile” region, S.A.S. Occasional Papers (Khartoum 1987); M. El-Tayeb, "Burial customs of Post-Meroitic
Makuria, GAMAR I (1998), 49-51.

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