ERC grant awarded to project researching the Nubian metropolis of Tungul

The European Research Council has awarded an ERC Consolidator grant of nearly $2 million to Dr Artur Obłuski, director of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw (PCMA UW), for a project exploring the site of Tungul (or Old Dongola), an important citadel in medieval Sudan.

Mateusz Rekłajtis Dr Obłuski during excavations at the citadel of Old Dongola. IMAGE: Mateusz Rekłajti-CAŚ UW.

ERC grants are funded by the European Union under Horizon Europe. This is the second awarded to Dr Obłuski and the PCMA UW.

The five-year project titled Afropolis Tungul: Urban biography of a cosmopolitan African capital will begin January 2024, and focus on the period spanning from the 4th to 14th century, when Old Dongola was the capital of the Christian kingdom of Makuria.

‘Tungul is the native name of this urban centre, which survived for 15 centuries,’ explains Dr Obłuski. ‘Afropolis stands for a city that was built at the intersection of two great cultural spheres – that of the ancient Mediterranean world and Africa.’

‘The people who inhabited the city were extremely effective in leveraging their geographical location, skillfully drawing on the two resource bases to create a social, political and cultural organism that was unique in global terms.’

‘One of our aspirations is to tackle the biased and erroneous colonial perceptions of Africa as a continent without history and without civilization.’

Old Dongola is located on the east bank of the Nile. IMAGE: Adrian Chlebowski-CAŚ UW

The project’s findings will be brought together with those from previous excavations at Old Dongola by PCMA UW, which shed light on city life during the Funj period (16th-19th century), and hopefully broaden current understandings of settlement persistence in the Nile Valley.

Dr Obłuski adds: ‘By giving equal attention to climatic, environmental, socioeconomic and political factors, I hope to offer new perspectives for broader archaeological and theoretical studies of urbanism and complex societies.’