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Nubian textiles

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

Team members

Magdalena M. Wozniak

Archaeologist. Textile specialist.


Few words about

Magda studied archaeology at the University of Paris IV – Sorbonne where she defended her PhD about Royal Iconography in Christian Nubia in 2013.   Between 2006 and 2012 she was a member of the Polish Archaeological Mission in Banganarti (Sudan) and took also part in two salvage campaigns on the Fourth Cataract (Sudan).

She started to specialize in textile studies in 2015 with dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (Textile Research Centre, Leiden) and attended the 1st Session Technique at CIETA, Lyon in 2017 – under the supervision of Marie-Hélène Guelton. Next session planned for Summer 2018. She also attends, when possible, dr Agata Ulanowska’s seminar of textile experimental archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw.

In 2016, Magda received a POLONEZ Fellowship (Marie Skłodowsla-Curie Program COFUND) for the project “Nubian textiles”, hosted by the Institute of Oriental and Mediterranean Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences.


Focus on the project

Magda is the project’s director. She’s responsible for the documentation and analysis of the textiles and tools related to textile production, as well as for the online publication of the database.

One of the main research axes of the project is the identification of the dyes – the analyses are conducted by a team of chemists of the Department of Chemistry of the University of Warsaw.

Isotopic analyses will also be conducted for some samples by the team of Prof. dr hab. Zdzisław Belka, from Laboratory of Isotopes of the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań.

Magda is also the organizer of the textile exhibition “Hidden Textile Treasures in the collections of the Sudan National Museum”, planned in March 2018. She benefited from the collaboration of her colleague Dr. Elsa Yvanez (Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen) for the selection of the material related to textile production during the Meroitic period. She coordinates the redaction of the exhibition catalogue (co-authors Elsa Yvanez, Barbara Czaja, Joan J. Žabkar). She will co-organize with Barbara Czaja the workshops associated with the opening of the exhibition and dedicated to archaeological textiles.

Barbara Czaja

Textile conservator. Archaeologist.


Few words about

Barbara works in the textile conservation from 25 years – she acquired considerable experience in the conservation and restoration of archaeological fabrics, clothes, rugs, kilims, soumaks, tapestries, furniture upholsteries, wall upholsteries and wall hangings.

Barbara obtained a MA in Archaeology from Warsaw University. She post-graduated in Modern analytical technologies for conservation of historical objects at the Faculty of Chemistry, Jagiellonian University, as well as in Museology at Warsaw University.

She worked for a while for the National Museum in Warsaw and pursued her carrier at the Textile Conservation Workshop of the Polish Studios for Conservation of Cultural Property (PPKZ S.A.). Since 2000, she works in the Prevention and Conservation Department of the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów.


Focus on the project

Barbara took part in the study visit at the Sudan National Museum (February 2017) where she was responsible for the technical analysis of the textiles as well as for their temporary (re)setting in the storerooms in accordance with textile conservation standards.

She is responsible for the conservation of 4 archaeological textiles from the collections of the Sudan National Museum brought to Poland in February 2017 for the purpose of the planned exhibition.

During the next visit to Khartoum, planned for March 2018, she will be responsible for the setting of the objects in the showcases and will also co-organize the workshops.

Barbara is also co-author of an article about the textiles from Meinarti and the author of a chapter dedicated to conservation work in the exhibition catalogue.

Mustafa el-Sherif

Deputy Director of Conservation Department, National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums (NCAM).


Few words about

Mustafa holds a BA in Archaeology from the Conservation Dept. of Cairo University, Egypt. He post-graduated in Historical Studies at Neelain University, Sudan and recently obtained his MA. in Archaeology from Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland. In addition, he completed several courses and workshops in Sudan and aboard.


Focus on the project

Mustafa is the coordinator between the Polish researchers and the team of the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum as well as the NCAM.

His help was precious during our first visit in February 2017 during the formalities process in order to get the permission to take samples as well as the 4 textiles selected for conservation.

Mustafa will also take part in the implementation of the exhibition in the Sudan National Museum in March 2018. His good knowledge of the Museum’s personnel and building is invaluable for the good setting of the exhibition.

Elsa Yvanez

Archaeologist. Textile specialist.


Few words about

Elsa studied archaeology at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne and University College London. She obtained her PhD from the University of Lille 3 in 2015. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the Archaeology, Production, and Use of Meroitic Textiles in Nubia and Sudan.

In 2017, Elsa received a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship for her project « TexMeroe », hosted by the University of Copenhagen.


Focus on the project

Elsa’s specialization in Meroitic textile production and her excellent knowledge of the Meroitic collection in the Sudan National Museum was of paramount importance in the planning of the exhibition. She participated in the selection of objects from the Sudan National Museum collections as well as in the redaction of the exhibition catalogue.

Robin Seignobos



Few words about

Robin Seignobos is a historian specialized in Medieval Nubian history with a particular interest in Arabic literary and documentary sources. His Ph.D. dissertation, dealing with the relations between Egypt and Nubia from the Muslim conquest of Egypt to the early 16th century, was defended at the University Paris-1Panthéon-Sorbonne in 2016. He currently holds the position of“scientific member” at the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) in Cairo.


Focus on the project

Robin’s role in the project is to work on textiles through the prism of written sources, both medieval and modern. One of the most interesting topics we plan to study is the question of nudity: the contrast between the written accounts about naked Nubians and the numerous textiles in the archaeological evidence invites us to investigate this social phenomenon. Another track we want to explore is the economical value of textiles in the Makurite society and the possible use of cloth as money – a practice well attested in Ottoman documents from Qasr Ibrim and in the accounts of 19th-century travellers in Sudan. Next meeting planned for April 2018!

Dr hab. Magdalena Biesaga, MA Monika Ganeczko, Prof. dr hab. Tomasz Gierczak, Dr Bartłomiej Witkowski

Dr hab. Magdalena Biesaga, MA Monika Ganeczko, Prof. dr hab. Tomasz Gierczak, Dr Bartłomiej Witkowski


Few words about…

The team of chemists from the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Warsaw, working under the supervision of prof. dr hab. Tomasz Gierczak and dr hab. Magdalena Biesagi has been analyzing historic buildings for many years with the help of advanced instrumental analytical techniques. The Group has extensive experience in conducting analyzes of the identification of natural dyes in textiles, as well as both protein and oil painting adhesives. The analyzes are carried out with high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS / MS) and capillary gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The team participated in many scientific projects, among others “Revitalization and digitalization of the only baroque royal residence in Wilanów in Poland”, “Identification of dyes in archaeological fabrics by Jakub Strzemię” as part of cooperation with the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace in Wilanów, “Identification of dyes in samples of antique linen from vestments and liturgical vestments from the collection of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Gdańsk “in cooperation with the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and” Identification of proteins, drying oils, waxes and resins in a sample from the Painful Crucifix “in cooperation with the National Museum in Warsaw,” Identification of natural dyes in fabrics archaeological “cooperation with the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Łódź.


Focus on the project

A team of chemists is responsible for the project for identifying the dyes of natural origin used in archaeological fabrics from Sudan. The task of the group is to adequately prepare the sample, i.e. to extract the analyzed dyes from the fabric into the solution, perform chromatographic analysis using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS / MS) and in the final phase to identify the raw materials used. All completed project stages and final results will be compiled in the report.
Researchers are the authors of a number of works on issues related to the identification of natural dyes and binders in historic objects published in international scientific journals and presented the results of their work at many international conferences.


Aneta Cedro

Archaeologist & Graphic Designer.


Few words about

Aneta Cedro is a researcher at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences. Her main research interest is Nubian pottery and its technology, from Meroitic to modern times. She has participated in many projects in Sudan and Egypt. For the last decade, she has been involved in excavations at the medieval settlements of Selib and Banganarti. Parallelly she has been conducting pottery research on other Nubian sites, mostly fortresses.


Focus on the project

Aneta was responsible for the design of the exhibition poster and panels. Her creativity, sense of aesthetics and good knowledge of graphic programs were great assets for this important part of the project.

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

The Research Centre on Medieval Nubia 2018
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