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Nubian textiles

Craft, trade, costume and identity of the medieval kingdom of Makuria


Study Visits

9 – 22 January 2017 – British Museum, London.

The first of my study visits, dedicated to the study of textiles from Qasr Ibrim and Kulubnarti (83 pieces examined). Impressive collection!! Many thanks to Julie Anderson, Derek Welsby, and the Storerooms staff for their help and kind assistance!

6 – 24 February 2017 – Sudan National Museum, Khartoum.

We had a very good teamwork there with Barbara – she analyzed the textiles while I did their photographic documentation and worked also on spindle-whorls. A total of 49 textiles and 77 spindle-whorls was examined. After an overview of the textile material in the medieval collections of the SNM and its state of preservation, we selected 4 textiles for conservation for the purpose of the planned exhibition. Our inspector, Mr. Mustafa Elsharif, assisted us in the process of getting permission to transport the textiles to Poland as well as take samples for analysis.

Special thanks to Mrs. Ghalia Gar el Nabi, Director of the SNM and Mr. Adil, the storerooms keeper for facilitating our work in the Museum. Also, we are grateful to Dr. Abdel Rahman Ali, Director of the NCAM, for his support of our project!


16th August 2017 – Archaeological Museum, Poznan

I had the honor to be invited to Poznan by Dr. Marek Chlodnicki after my presentation at the Annual Nubiological Conference in June earlier this year. I had the opportunity to examine 32 textiles from the cemeteries of es-Sadda, Shemkhiya, and Hagar el-Beida. My sincere thanks to Dr. Chlodnicki for his warm welcome and kind assistance 🙂

I had also the pleasure to have a late lunch with Mustafa, our NCAM inspector, who achieves a Master’s degree at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan.


7 – 25 November 2017 – Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

A wonderful work time, discovering the amazing textile collection from Gebel Adda (105 pieces documented)! Warm thanks to Krzys Grzymski and Cheryl Copson (Egyptian Department), as well as Chris Paulocik (Textile Department) for their kindness and support!

Thanks also to Claire Gérentet and Sue Jeffries for making my stay so nice 🙂


2 – 15 December 2017 – Cairo: Egyptian Museum, Egyptian Textile Museum, Islamic Museum, Coptic Museum. Aswan: Nubia Museum.

My mission was to identify the location of a part of the Gebel Adda textiles (13 pieces) which were shared between the mission of the American Research Centre in Egypt and the Egyptian government in the late sixties of the 20th century. Initially, they were dispatched between the Islamic Art Museum, the Coptic Museum, and Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The first institution I visited was the Islamic Art Museum where most of the Gebel Adda textiles were supposed to be housed. I met Dr. Mohammed Ahmed, Director of the Textile Department, who informed me that the textiles were moved to the Egyptian Textile Museum in Cairo and also to the Nubia Museum in Aswan. With his help, I met Dr. Sahar Ibrahim from the Textile Egyptian Museum, who confirmed the presence of two Gebel Adda Textiles within their collections.

My next visit was to the Egyptian Museum. This day, the Database was not accessible for technical reasons, but I benefited from the kind assistance of Miss Norhan Hassan from the Database Departement who offered to check the paper register of the Catalogue général – we identified the inventory numbers and the location of three textiles. After submitting a Study Request Form, I was informed by Miss Hassan about procedures in other museums. While discussing about the project, I mentioned the Nubia Museum, and it appeared that Miss Hassan’s good friend, a curator as well, was working in Aswan. After a short call, my visit was arranged on the 10th of December 🙂

At the Nubia Museum, I met Miss Naglaa, Nour’s friend, and I had the honor to be received by the Museum Director, Dr. Hosni Ibrahim, who expressed great interest and support for the project. With Miss Naglaa, we checked the textiles exhibited (four pieces, including two garments and two palls, all silk) on the gallery and we found two more textiles in the register.

After my return to Cairo, I visit the Coptic Museum where I met Dr. Heny Zarif, Director of the Textile Department. With his help, we checked the inventory but found no traces of the Gebel Adda textiles. Mr. Zarif contacted Mr. Moussa, a former curator in the Coptic Museum, who oriented us to check the Papyrology Department, for the Textile Department houses only decorated textiles, while the Gebel Adda pieces were inscribed. Dr. Kamilia Makram, Director of the Papyrology Department, kindly offered her help, however, the pieces I was presented two days later were not the textiles described by the Gebel Adda inventory. Further research must be conducted there.

Despite the unfruitful visit to the Coptic museum, I was able to identify the location of a total of 11 textiles and submit a study application to the Ministry of Antiquities the day before my departure. What a run! It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many colleagues and friends I met during my travel. Sincere thanks to all! Last but not least, thanks are also due to the staff of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology in Cairo for their assistance with all the administrative procedures.


1-2 February 2018 – Institute of Archaeology, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń.

Work session with Prof. Malgorzata Grupa on textiles from the 4th Cataract (35 pieces) conserved in the Documentation and Conservation Lab. Many thanks to Prof. Grupa and her team (we met in May 2017 at the NESAT conference), it was a great pleasure to see you again 🙂


16-18 May 2018Textile Research Centre, Leiden

The first time I visited the TRC was in September 2015 when I attended the Intensive Textile Course masterfully conducted by Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, the TRC Director. Gillian is a very special person to me. The “Nubian Textiles” project was at its very beginning at that time, I actually decided to attend the course before writing the application, because I felt I crucially lacked practical knowledge about textiles. When I discovered that Gillian was the first laureate of the Veronika Gervers Fellowship at the Royal Ontario Museum and that her study was dedicated to the study of the Gebel Adda textiles, I had the feeling that our meeting was not a coincidence! Gillian was very supportive of my project and despite a really tense schedule, she offered me to come earlier one day so we had time to discuss the research plan. So it was a real pleasure to come back to the TRC to work now on a part of their collections within the frame of the project.

Among the many treasures housed at the TRC, there is an incredible collection of ethnographic objects related to sewing and weaving activities, gathered in the thirties of the 20th century by Grace M. Crowfoot, one of the pioneers of textile archaeology. The TRC volunteers do wonderful work there, new objects are incessantly donated to the Centre, there is really a lot to do with the handling and inventory of the textiles, the library, the temporary exhibition, the visitors, but any time you come, you are always welcomed with a smile and a warm cup of tea 🙂 During my stay, I could have examined 69 objects and I also had a library day, where I found many specialized references. It was both a fruitful and pleasant visit and I would like to thank once again Gillian and all the volunteers’ team.


22-24 May 2018 – British Museum, London

There is a French saying ” L’Homme propose, Dieu dispose” which I found very adapted to the present situation. In my initial planning of the grant, I mentioned only one visit to the British Museum. But when I started to prepare the study visit form in September 2016, I realized I could not see all the objects during a single stay. And after many other study trips and conferences, here we are: my last study visit to the Institution which I visited first when the project started 🙂 The circle is complete.

As the first time, I saw a lot of objects (247 spindle whorls measured AND weighted!) and found also interesting literature at the Anthropology Library. Many thanks to the Curators for their help, kindness, assistance, especially Julie Anderson, Marie Vandenbeusch, and Daniel Antoine. It was a real pleasure to meet ancient and new colleagues there!


19 August 2017 – Musée du Quai Branly, Paris.

Many thanks to dr. Christophe Moulhérat for this 1-day workshop dedicated to the mounting of textile fibers for cross-section analysis. We also discussed the importance of thread counting and its analysis by optical microscopy for the determination of the wool quality.


21 August – 1st September 2017 – Session technique 1, CIETA, Lyon.

A very dense training with a wonderful teacher – Marie-Hélène Guelton! Thanks to all participants for the nice atmosphere despite an extremely busy and exhausting timetable. My gratitude also to Claire Gérentet and friends for hosting me at Lyon 🙂


20 June 2018 – VITRUM PORSA Company, Warsaw.

This second study visit was a 1-day training in the technical setting of showcases. Basia and I were trained by Mr. Andrzej Witkowski, co-director of the Vitrum Porsa Company. Many thanks for his warm welcome and patience 🙂


Conferences, Seminars, Talks

28 March 2017 – “‘Robes and blankets’ from Meinarti”, Seminar of the Archaeology of Egypt and Nubia, Institute of Archaeology, Warsaw University.

5 April 2017 – “Nubian textiles: craft, trade, costume and identity in the medieval kingdom of Makuria – goals and methodology”, Textile Seminar, Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg.

3 May 2017 – “Cotton in the textile production of Medieval Nubia: state of art”, Conference Cotton in the Old World: domestication, cultivation, use and trade, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Paris, 3-4 May 2017.

11 May 2017 – “Khartoum, London, Toronto – investigating Nubian medieval textiles”, Days of the National Science Centre, Poland, Kielce, Jan Kochanowski University.

22 – 26 May 2017 – [as a listener] NESAT XIII, Liberec.

2 June 2017 –  “Pierwsze wyniki badań barwników w średniowiecznych tkaninach pochodzących z Meinarti” [First results of dye analysis on medieval textiles from Meinarti], XXIV Polish Nubiological Conference, Gdansk, 2-4 June 2017.

21 – 22 June 2017 – [as a listener] Dynamics and Organization of Textile Production in Past Societies in Europe and the Mediterranean, Łódź.

25 – 27 September 2017 – [as a listener] 27th General Assembly and Congress of CIETA,  State Hermitage, St Petersburg.

24 October 2017 – “Nubian Textiles – report after the 1st year of the project”, Seminar of the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences.

26 – 28 October 2017 – POSTER “Dye analysis of medieval Nubian textiles (Sudan, 13th c.)”, 36th Dyes in History and Archaeology Conference, Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, London.

28 October 2017 – “Textile trade between Egypt and Nubia in the medieval period”, 10th Textiles from the Nile Valley Conference, HeadquARTers, Katoen Natie, Antwerpen, 27-29 October 2017.

24 April 2018 – “Dostojnicy z Gebel Adda – ubiór a tożsamość w ostatnim okresie trwania królestwa Makurii (XIII-XV wiek, Sudan) [Dignitaries from Gebel Adda – costume and identity in the late period of the kingdom of Makuria (13th-15thc. CE)]”, 5th Congress of Polish Africanists, Nowa Huta, 23-25 April 2018.

11 June 2018 – “Kilka słów o projekcie ‘Nubian Textiles’ [Few words about ‘Nubian Textiles’ project]”, Poles on the Nile 2017-2018 conference, Warsaw, 11-13 June 2018.

13 September 2018 – with Elsa Yvanez (University of Copenhagen) “Changing Textiles, Shifting Identities? Costume and political allegiance in Late Antic Nubia”, 14th International Conference for Nubian Studies, Paris, 10-15 September 2018.

7 October 2019 – “Identification of dyes in textiles from Late Antique and Medieval Sudan (4th-15th c?. CE)”, 28th Assembly and Congress of the CIETA, Krefeld, 7-10 October 2019.

National Science Centre, Poland - “POLONEZ” funding scheme n° 2015/19/P/HS3/02100
Project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 665778