Posts Tagged ‘Nile’

Programme Tonight on Israel’s Attack on Gaza Last Year

May 13, 2019

Tonight, 13th May 2019, BBC 2 are screening a documentary at 9.00 pm, ‘One Day in Gaza’, about the terrible events there last year when Israel fired on Palestinian demonstrators. The article for it on page 74 of the Radio Times runs

On 14 May 2018, mass disturbances on the border between Israel and Gaza led to one of the deadliest days in a generation. For weeks Palestinians had been protesting along the border fence, but tensions were running particularly high due to the inauguration of the new US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, a controversial step ordered by Donald Trump. By the end of the day, as many as 60 Palestinians were dead or dying, and over 2,000 were injured, mostly by live ammunition. One year on, Olly Lambert’s film relates the events of that day using footage filmed on the ground and interviews with those on both sides of the fence.

A further piece about it on page 72 runs

Palestinians in Gaza had already been protesting Israel’s land, sea and air blockade of the territory for a fortnight when, on 14 May 2018, the situation turned from tense to bloody. While Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and other officials of the Trump administration were in Jerusalem to inaugurate a controversial new US embassy, violence exploded at the Gaza border. The Israeli army claimed to have acted in self-defence; more than 60 Palestinians died in a day, with more than 2,000 hurt.

A year on, film-maker Olly Lambert pieces together an account of what happened, by interviewing political leaders on both sides and drawing on video footage at the time.

This follows the mass demonstration through central London on Saturday, commemorating 71 years of the Nakba, an Arabic word meaning ‘catastrophe’, which the Palestinians use to describe their own genocide and dispossession by the Zionist settlers. The protest was organised by the Palestinian Forum in Britain, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Muslim Council of Britain and the Stop the War Coalition. The protest was also against the continuing failure of the Israeli state to honour the peace treaty it had signed with the Palestinians over Gaza, and its continuing campaign to strangle the area’s economy, fishing and obstruction of medicine and humanitarian aid. The star speaker was Ahed Tamimi, the 15 year old girl who got 18 months in prison for slapping an Israeli storm trooper after her brother was shot in the head with a rubber bullet.

Labour has committed itself to recognising Palestine as a sovereign state, which has contributed to the hysterical accusations of anti-Semitism by the Zionists against Jeremy Corbyn, despite the Labour leader’s many sincere actions on behalf of Britain’s Jews.For further information, see the articles on the demonstration by Mike at https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/05/12/pro-palestine-demonstration-in-london-to-show-support-after-latest-violence/

and Tony Greenstein at http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/05/15000-march-in-memory-of-nakba_12.html

This could be a really interesting documentary. But I have no doubt it will also be highly controversial. Whenever anyone, no matter how respected, reports atrocities committed by Israel or its allies, there are instantly accusations of anti-Semitism by the Jewish press and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. This happens even though the reports are accurate. Those, who have been smeared for their reportage include the very well respected Beeb foreign correspondents Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin, and the former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

The anger of the siting of the American embassy in Jerusalem was inevitable, as Israel would like to claim Jerusalem as its capital rather than Tel Aviv, despite UN recommendations that it should be shared between Israel and the Palestinians. It also raises very deep fears about what Israel intends to do with the Dome of the Rock mosque. This is the third holiest site in Islam. But it’s built on the remains of Solomon’s Temple, and Jewish fanatics like Gush Emunim would like to see it destroyed and the Temple rebuilt instead.

Israel also has a policy of deliberately bombing and closing Palestinian places of worship. While the world mourned the destruction of Notre Dame cathedral by fire, the Palestinians were also feeling the destruction of one of their holiest mosques in Gaza. This precious monument, dating from the 7th century, was deliberately targeted by the Israeli military. Else where in eretz Israel, mosques and other places of worship are vandalised and desecrated by Jewish fanatics. And this includes Christian churches and monasteries. Benzi Gopstein, an extreme right-wing rabbi in one of the Israeli settlements, a few weeks ago issued the statement that Jews had a divine commandment to destroy churches in Israel, as they were places of idolatry. It’s a statement that I know shocks genuinely liberal Jews worldwide. I am also aware that Christian churches and other monuments in Israel have also been attacked by intolerant, fundamentalist Muslims. But the respected historian of the Middle East, Albert Hourani, has pointed out in one of his articles on the history of Palestine, that traditionally Christian churches were regarded as mawsin – sacred, sacrosanct – by Palestinian Muslims, who respected them. I have also heard that quite often the doorkeeper at Christian churches is a Muslim, and that they are often instrumental in preventing attacks by fanatical Jewish mobs. But you will not hear this from the mainstream press and news, and especially not from Christian organisations like Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, who want to see an Israel stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates.

This is why people do need to hear and see the truth about Israel and its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians against the attempts to silence it by the Zionist Jewish establishment, and establishment that’s also strongly opposed by an increasing number of Jews, disgusted at what is being done in their name. As one genuinely liberal Jews has said, ‘to be a Jew means that you are always on the side of the oppressed, never the oppressor.

For Israeli attacks on churches and mosques, see also this article by Tony Greenstein, http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/04/should-we-set-fire-to-churches-mosques.html

 

Book on Nubia in the Oxbow Bargain Books Catalogue

December 1, 2018

I got the latest issue of Oxbow Books’ bargain catalogue through the post earlier this week for Winter 2018. Oxbow specializes in books on history and archaeology. In the ‘Asia, America and Egypt’ section of the catalogue on age 11 is a book on ancient Nubia, Acta Nubica, edited by I. Caneva and Alessandro Roccati. The blurb for this read

This substantial volume resulting from the Tenth International Conference of the Nubian Society held in 2002, surveys the recently discovered antiquities of the Nile Valley and beyond, throughout Egypt and the Sudan. In these numerous archaeological, archaeometrical, and epigraphical discoveries, scientists present new groundwork the understanding of Egypt, not as a lone oasis of civilization, but rather as a key part of a larger ancient world.

The original published price was 150 pounds, but it’s been reduced to 19.95.

The book’s clearly aimed at academics, but it might be of interest to some ordinary people with an interest in ancient Egypt, Nubia and African civilisations.

Book on Medieval Nubian Literature and Literacy

March 14, 2015

One of the pieces I wrote a few years ago on this blog and which is still being read was an article on the churches and monasteries of medieval Nubia. From the early Middle Ages to the fifteenth century, when the area was finally conquered by Islam, there were a group of three civilisations stretched along the Nile in ancient Nubia. These were literate kingdoms, who appeared to have adopted monophysite Christianity from Coptic Egypt. They built churches, monasteries and palaces, and were in communion with the other Eastern orthodox Christian churches, whose literature they translated into Nubian.

Archaeologists have been studying and attempting to piece together this culture since the 1960s. A number of sites have been excavated, including the ancient capital, Soba, and Arminna West. Four years ago in 2011 the Journal of Juristic Papyrology published a collection of papers on Nubian literature and writings, Nubian Voices: Studies in Nubian Christian Civilisation, by Adam Lajtar, Giovanni Rufini, and J van der Vliet. The blurb for it in the Oxbow Books Catalogue for Egypt, the Near East, Islam and the Middle East, says of it:

This book is a collection of articles dealing with various aspects of medieval Nubian literacy. It contains eleven articles by an international group of scholars, representing different areas of language studies (Greek and Latin epigraphy, Coptology, Old Nubian studies). The articles contain both editions of new textual finds and reconsiderations of well-known sources. The chronology of the texts discussed in the books spans a few hundred years of medieval Nubian history (from the 7th until the 15th century) and their topographical distribution covers a large part of the Middle Nile Valley (from Qasr Ibrim in the north to Banganarti in the south) and beyond (northern Kordofan). The typological variety of the sources, with epitaphs, sepulchral crosses, legal documents, visitors’ inscriptions, and depinti on pottery, provides an insight into the richness of the Christian Nubian civilisation.

At £50, this way beyond my pocket, and I imagine most peoples. Still, you might be able to get it on interlibrary loan, or find a secondhand copy somewhere.

A Portrait of a Black Romano-Briton

May 29, 2014

Black British Roman

The above picture is of a wooden scoop handle from the site of the Thames Exchange in London. It’s about 10 inches long, and the end has been carved into the face of a Black man. It’s now part of the collection of the Museum of London. It’s part of the evidence that Black people have been present in Britain since the Roman Empire. In some ways, it should be unsurprising, as the Roman Empire stretched from Britain to North Africa, and had trade connections extending across the Sahara, and down the Red Sea and Nile to Ethiopia. Before the rise of the Roman Empire, Ethiopians were also present in Greek Art.

The European elections were marked by the victories of anti-immigration and overtly racist parties all over Europe, from UKIP in Britain to the Front National in France and the Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece. I felt it was therefore necessary to post this up, just to show that there is a long history of Black people in Britain as a response to the racist rhetoric we can now expect from politicians, not just of the extreme Right, but also ostensibly more liberal parties. They are attempting to regain some electoral popularity by promising a more harsher stance on immigration. Such rhetoric will lead to more racial tension and bigotry. In this case, it’s timely to post the evidence that Black people have also lived and worked in Britain as part of the British people since 2000 years ago. The picture itself can be found in Patrick Ottaway, Archaeology in British Towns: From the Emperor Claudius to the Black Death (London: Routledge 1992) 66.

The Churches and Monasteries of Medieval Nubia: The Church at Arminna West

June 25, 2013

The Town of Arminna West

One of the Nubian churches excavated by archaeologists was that of Arminna West. This township lay on the west bank of the Nile directly opposite Khor Usha in the middle of the modern Arminna East, a large and prosperous town on the east side of the river, four km south of Toshka, ten km south of the post boat station at Duki Dawur and 26 km north of Abu Simbel. The township was 600 m in length and 300 m in width. It was excavated in preparation for the construction of the Aswan dam from 1961 to 1963. During the Classic Christian period at Arminna West, between 850 to 1100, the town had a population of between 100 to 200 people. It had large, finely built houses with eight or more rooms and barrel vaulted roofs, which were well plastered. These were probably occupied by nuclear families, rather than extended clan groups. The houses in medieval Nubian villages are located extremely near to each other. This, however, may have been due to the fact that ancient Nubian society was highly integrated, rather than for defensive reasons. Under a treaty with the Ummayyad caliph Abdallah ibn Saad in 652, Nubia traded 400 slaves with Egypt annually in return for cloth, horses and food. This trade nearly vanished completely from the middle of the eighth century, possibly due to the overthrow of the Ummayyads by the succeeding Abbasid dynasty, though there was a brief revival around 1000. The Nubians also imported wine from the Egyptian monasteries. There is also evidence of animal herding in Arminna West during the Classic and Late Christian phases of the town’s history. A map of the town’s remains from its Classic Christian phase is shown below.

Arminna Township

The church lay about 54 m north of the town, as shown below.

Arminna Church and Town 1

Sources

Bruce G. Trigger, The Late Nubian Settlement at Arminna West (New Haven and Philadelphia: The Peabody Museum of Natural History of Yale University/ The University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania 1967)

Kent R. Weeks, The Classic Christian Townsite at Arminna West (New Haven and Philadelphia: The Peabody Museum of Natural History of Yale University/ The University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania 1967).

The Churches and Monasteries of Medieval Nubia: Part Three – The Church of Granite Columns, Old Dongola

June 23, 2013

Apart from the Cruciform Church, Old Dongola possessed a number of other churches. These included the Church of the Granite Columns. This was 30 m in length by 25 m in width (98 feet by 82 feet) and composed of fired red bricks. Its most striking feature, after which it was named by archaeologists, were the sixteen monolithic columns supporting its roof. The granite from which these columns were carved came from the quarries around the Nile’s third cataract. It was built in the late seventh century on the site of an earlier church, constructed a century earlier in the sixth. This Old Church was 30 m (98 feet) long, and divided into three sections. The building was strongly influenced by Greek and Byzantine architectural styles. Associated with the church was a large baptistry containing an oval basin. Running along the front of the heikal was a line of sockets, which would have supported a dividing screen.

The layout of the Church of Granite Columns is shown below:

Columns Church 1.jpeg

A Coptic Funeral Inscription from Medieval Nubia

May 4, 2013

One of the great medieval African civilisations was Christian Nubia. Centred on the thin strip of land running for the first to the sixth cataract of the Nile in what is now the Sudan, the Nubians possessed a written language from the sixth century AD. In 550 a local king, Eirpanome, appears to have converted the pagan temple at Dendur into a church. Christian Nubia survived until the sixteenth century, when the kingdom of Alwa declined following the conquest of Soba by the Muslim kingdom of Fung.

Between 1961 and 1963 the area around Arminna was excavated by the Universities of Pennsylvania and Yale as part of UNESCO’s campaign to save the ancient monuments in the region. The archaeologists uncovered the remains of the medieval town and a church. This church contained several inscriptions, including one in Greek and another in Coptic, the language of the Egyptian Christian church. The Greek inscription commemorated a person called Marieo. Its first 19 lines were the Greek Orthodox prayer for the dead, which is still used today. It read:

‘God of spirits and all flesh, You who have trod under death and have rendered ineffectual the devil, and have given life to Your world, rest the soul of Your departed servant (named) in a place of verdure, in a place of refreshment; therein grief, pain, and mourning have fled. Pardon every sin done by him in word, or deed, or thought, since You are a good God and love mankind, because there is no man who will live and will not sin. For You alone are outside sin, Your justice is justice forever, and Your word is truth, because You are the resurrection, the life, and the repose of Your departed servant (name), Christ our God, and to you we send up glory with Your everlasting Father and all-holy and good and life-giving Sppirit, now and always and forever. Amen’ Above the inscription, running from left to right, were a cross, an alpha and omega, and the sign of the fish.

The coptic inscription was situated inside the church’s apse. It had been set up by the parents of a woman named Maria. The inscription reads:

‘According to the statement which the Creator spoke, “Adam thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt (lit. she will) again return,” such was the way in which the blessed Maria went to rest, who was the daughter of Ptoou and the daughter of Mariam in the month of Hathor in the year (of the martyrs) 637. Her years were 39. The good god will give her rest in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob beneath the treat of life, which is in the paradise of joy with all his saints, who cried out, “Amen, so be it, Amen”‘.

These two inscriptions show the contacts medieval Christian Nubia had with the other Christian churches, and the touching concern its citizens felt to raise monuments to their deceased relatives.

Sources

Niall Finneran, The Archaeology of Christianity in Africa (Brimscombe Port: Tempus 2002)

Bruce G. Trigger, The Late Nubian Settlement at Arminna West (New Haven and Philadelphia: The Peabody Museum of Natural History of Yale University/ The University Museum of of the University of Pennsylvania 1967).