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Oxford University Press, USA

Medieval Nubia: A Social and Economic History

Medieval Nubia: A Social and Economic History

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As one of the few surviving archaeological sites from the medieval Christian kingdom of Nubia, Qasr Ibrim is critically important in a number of ways. It is the only site in Lower Nubia that remained above water after the completion of the Aswan high dam. In addition, thanks to the aridity of
the climate in the area, the site is marked by extraordinary preservation of organic material, especially textual material written on papyrus, leather, and paper. Particularly rich is the textual material from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries CE, written in Old Nubian, the region's indigenous
language. As a result, Qasr Ibrim is probably the best documented ancient and medieval site in Africa outside of Egypt and the Maghreb.

Medieval Nubia is the first book to make available this remarkable material, much of which is still unpublished. The evidence discovered reveals a more complicated picture of this community than originally thought. Previously, it was accepted that medieval Nubia had existed in relative isolation
from the rest of the world, subsisting on a primitive economy. Legal documents, accounts, and letters, however, reveal a complex, monetized economy with exchange rates connected to those of the wider world. Furthermore, they reveal public festive practices, in which lavish feasting and food gifts
reinforced the social prestige of the participants. These documents prove medieval Nubia to have been a society combining legal elements inherited from the Greco-Roman world with indigenous African social practices. In reconstructing the social and economic life of medieval Nubia based on the Old
Nubian sources from the site, as well as other previously examined materials, Giovanni R. Ruffini corrects previous assumptions and provides a new picture of Nubia, one that links it to the wider Mediterranean economy and society of its time.

Author: Giovanni R. Ruffini
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Published: 09/18/2012
Pages: 320
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 1.23lbs
Size: 9.30h x 6.30w x 1.30d
ISBN: 9780199891634

Review Citation(s):
Choice 04/01/2013

About the Author

Giovanni R. Ruffini is Associate Professor of History and Classical Studies at Fairfield University.

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