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The Analysis of Glazed Quartzite Sculpture from Kerma, Capital of Ancient Kush (Sudan)

  • Lisa Ellis (a1) and Richard Newman (a1)

Abstract

Scanning electron microscopy/energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM/EDS) was used to characterize the composition of glazes found on a collection of blue glazed, white quartzite sculptures, excavated from 1913–1916 by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition at the site of Kerma, the capital of ancient Kush, in today's Sudan. The scientific analysis of these artifacts shows the experimental nature of this extremely rare manufacture which appears to have developed out of faience technology.

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1. The rock used in the sculptures is dense, milky white and consists of almost pure quartz. Although not fully characterized for this paper, we provisionally refer to it as quartzite. Color images of most of the objects identified by accession number may be viewed on the Museum of Fine Art's website, www.mfa.org.
2. Reisner, George A., Excavations at Kerma, Vol. VI, (Kraus Reprint Co., Millwood, N.Y., 1975) pp. 4954. Also excavated by the Harvard University–MFA Expedition, field number 14–3–1239, is a bovine foot from a bed, at the National Museum, Khartoum and f. no. 13–12–475, a hippopotamus foot from a bed is at the Ägyptisches Museum in Leipzig. Currently on view at the Musée du Louvre is a fragment of a hippopotamus excavated at Elephantine (E 12695).
See Bonnet, Charles, Edifices et rite funéraires à Kerma, (Editions Errance, Paris, 2000), 135 & fig. 98, for a glazed quartzite crocodile excavated at Kerma.
3. Beck, Horace C., Ancient Egypt and the East: British School of Archaeology in Egypt, 19–37 (June 1935).
4. Bonnet, C., Edifices et rite funéraires à Kerma, (Editions Errance, Paris, 2000), p. 135.
5. Bonnet, C., Genava, XXVIII, 47 (1980).
6. Hatcher, H. and Kaczmarczyk, A., “Bulk Composition of Bodies and Glazes,” Kerma Faience, H. Hatcher, J. Henderson, A. Kacmarczyk, P. Lacovara, M. S. Tite, and P. Vandiver, (unpublished manuscript, 1987).

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