An African Commitment: Papers in Honour of Peter Lewis Shinnie

An African Commitment: Papers in Honour of Peter Lewis Shinnie

An African Commitment: Papers in Honour of Peter Lewis Shinnie

An African Commitment: Papers in Honour of Peter Lewis Shinnie

Excerpt

Peter Shinnie has already been honoured by his Egyptologist and Meroiticist colleagues' dedication to him of a special number of The Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities (Vol. XVII, No. 1/2, 1987). With the importance of his contribution to the historic and protohistoric archaeology of northeast Africa recognized in this way, his other friends, colleagues and students—inclusive rather than exclusive categories—have been able to pay tribute to him and celebrate the extraordinary breadth of his scholarly achievement in a volume that reflects Peter's belief in the mutual relevance of past and present.

The three geographical regions covered by these papers and the diverse approaches of archaeology, anthropology, history and political science are indicative of Peter Shinnie's interests and involvement in Africa and with Africans themselves. This involvement is exceptional in that it embraces the peoples and cultures both of Arabic-speaking North Africa and of that sub-Saharan zone so rich and complex in its cultures and history that runs east and west across the continent to the north of the Bantu line. All the contributors to this volume are either present or former colleagues or students at the University of Calgary.

The first set of papers best reflects Peter's early, but still enduring, interest in the history and peoples of northern Africa. D. G. Hatt, his title an elegant tribute to Peter in itself, describes a tribal saint of the Islamic African world in which Peter worked for so long as a sensitive and discriminating observer. Ali Osman, himself a Nubian and one of Peter's first graduate students at Calgary, asks whether cultural continuities relate Nubian folk tales to archaeological sites. It is appropriate that John Robertson should contribute a paper on the archaeology of Meroe, for Shinnie conducted many years of important excavations there and wrote the standard monograph on Meroitic civilization. His name will remain forever associated with the primacy of Meroe among the civilizations of Black Africa (Fig. 1). Mary McDonald's recent fieldwork in Dakhleh Oasis offers a new perspective and suggests a new dynamic regarding the origins of the food-production that underlies the civilizations of the Nile. The paper by Amal Mohamed takes us even further back in time to the Middle Palaeolithic of central Sudan.

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