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Monday, November 15, 2021

Northern Cal. ARCE Lecture Dec. 12: Racism, Egyptological stereotypes and the intersection of local and international at Kushite Tombos

The American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California Chapter, and the Near Eastern Studies Department, University of California, Berkeley, invite you to attend a virtual lecture by Dr. Stuart Tyson Smith, UC Santa Barbara:

"Backwater Puritans"? Racism, Egyptological stereotypes and the intersection of local and international at Kushite Tombos

When: Sunday,  December 12, 2021, 3 PM Pacific Time

Zoom Lecture. A registration link will be automatically sent to ARCE-NC members. Non-members may request a registration link by sending email with your name and email address to Attendance is limited, so non-members, please send any registration requests no later than Friday, December 10.

Glenn Meyer
ARCE-NC Publicity Director


Tombos panorama - 2017 (Photo courtesy of Stuart Tyson Smith)

About the Lecture:

Egyptological and more popular perceptions of Nubia and the Kushite Dynasty (c. 747-654 BCE) have framed Kush as a periphery to civilized Egypt, unsophisticated interlopers in Egypt and the broader Mediterranean world during the first millennium. Depictions of Nubians from earlier periods of Egyptian history, like Tutankhamen's painted box, reinforced these ideas of Nubian inferiority compared to Egypt and the Near East. But to what extent was Nubia a "backwater" to "effete and sophisticated" Egypt as John Wilson once asserted? For the Persians, depictions of Nubians and other foreigners presenting gifts at Persepolis represented the diversity of the empire paying homage to the Persian king as an all-lord whose rule encompassed numerous peoples. Archaeological evidence supports the more cosmopolitan Persian view of Kush against older racist Egyptological stereotypes of "barbaric" Nubians.

It is clear from recent archaeological work at Tombos and elsewhere that Nubia was not an unsophisticated backwater. Objects with Egyptianizing motifs in the international style asserted a cosmopolitan social status that connected their owners to an international elite culture that spanned Nubia and Egypt, and extended across the Mediterranean during the Iron Age. Yet consumption of this material culture was mediated by cultural preference, and balanced by objects like pyramids and black topped pottery that reflected ties to an Egyptian colonial and deeper Nubian past. The Kushite civilization that flourished for a thousand years was not an imperfect imitation of ancient Egypt, as some Egyptologists have asserted. Instead, features taken from Egypt and the Mediterranean world were adapted and thoroughly integrated with local practices and belief systems.

About the Speaker:

Stuart Tyson Smith received his PhD in Archaeology from UCLA, and is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Smith's research centers on the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Nubia with a theoretical focus on the social and ethnic dynamics of colonial encounters and the origins of the Napatan Kushite state, whose rulers became Pharaohs of Egypt's 25th Dynasty. He has published on the dynamics of Egyptian imperialism and royal ideology, the use of sealings in administration, death and burial in ancient Egypt and Nubia, and the ethnic, social and economic dynamics of intercultural interaction between ancient Egypt and Nubia. He has participated in and led archeological expeditions to Egypt, and since 1997, to Sudanese Nubia, where he co-directs the UCSB-Purdue University Tombos expedition to the third cataract of the Nile with bioarchaeologist Prof. Michele Buzon and Prof. Mohamed Faroug Ali of Africa International University, Khartoum. In addition to fieldwork, he is engaged in a long-term study and write-up of the UCLA excavations conducted by the late Alexander Badawy at the fortress of Askut in Sudanese Nubia. In a new line of research, Smith applies a postcolonial approach to modern scholarly and popular views of ancient Egypt as not truly African and Nubia as its subordinate, confronting the intersection between racism and longstanding academic and political bias. In 1993, he took a break from academia as Egyptological Consultant for the hit MGM movie 'Stargate,' commenting on the script and recreating spoken ancient Egyptian for the film. He returned to Hollywood consulting in 1998 and 2000 for the Universal remake of 'The Mummy' and its sequel, 'The Mummy Returns,' and most recently for 2018's web production 'Stargate Origins: Catherine.'

About ARCE-NC:

For more information, please visit,,, or To join the chapter or renew your membership, please go to and select "Berkeley, CA" as your chapter when you sign up.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

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