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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Cattle were an essential element of the economy of the kingdom of Kerma, located between the first and fourth cataract in Egypt, which flourished between 2600 and 1500 bc. They are an important source of protein and labour, as well as secondary products (milk, hides, tools, etc.). The role of cattle in funerary rituals is attested by the presence of bucrania, which were placed facing the deceased in the burial mounds, sometimes in large numbers. Some burials contained bucrania with parallel horns, whereas others had a deliberately misshapen horn. In the Classic Kerma phase, cattle become less important, and the bucrania around the burials rarer. This may be linked to a worsening of the climate and a rapidly growing human population. The significance of cattle in the Kerma culture is evidenced by baked clay figurines, by paintings visible in the excavated funerary ‘chapels’, and by the presence of engraved ostrich eggs.

Keywords: Nubia, Kerma, cattle, economy, bucrania, grave, rituals

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