The reconstruction of early language and culture contacts in north-eastern Africa is the primary focus of this project. The area of investigation - north-eastern Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia) - is viewed as an historically contiguous contact zone that stretches from Egypt in the north to the today linguistically heterogeneous borderland of Ethiopia and the Republic of the Sudan in the south. For the first time perhaps, Africanists and Egyptologists are closely working together in their attempt to reconstruct the complex migrational and cultural exchange patterns within a region that has been characterised by political relations and alliances as well as economic exchanges from very early times onward.
During a first research period the historical investigation primarily dealt with a systematic comparison of lexical items referring to pastoral activities as well as to food production in more than eighty Afroasiatic and Nilosaharan languages (see MAP).
The aim in this case was to further investigate into the origins and early diffusion patterns of two primary subsistence modes, i.e. live-stock keeping and food production activities, among those population groups inhabiting the area during the Holocene, a topic also dealt with in related archaeological projects. The analysis of a large corpus of pictorial devices in early Egyptian sources further showed that there is a wealth of evidence for Egyptís connections to the south where reference is made to the countries, people and resources that coexisted, interacted with and were traded to their northern neighbour during the Ancient Egyptian period. During the current phase of research the historical linguistic study of culture and language contacts proceeds to later periods of north-east African history (3000 to 600 BC). At that time Egypt and the ethno-linguistically diverse regions located to the south of it must have come into closer contacts.One indicator for such a development is the rise and importance of the Meroitic kingdom which gained influence in the middle Nile area between the rivers Nile and Atbara even before its rulers conquered Egypt during the eighth century BC.
The study of ĎAfricaní toponyms, ethnonyms and loanwords within different semantic areas in both, the Egyptian and (Nilosaharan?) Meroitic languages, will provide important linguistic evidence for a more de-tailed reconstruction of bilateral relations between Egypt and the south. The large-scale lexical comparison of iron-working terminology in a number of Afroasiatic and Nilosaharan languages spoken in north-eastern Africa today finally contributes to the reconstruction of those cultural and economic innovations that seem to have originated in the region of Egypt/ Sudan/ Ethiopia and then spread to further regions in Africa during later millennia.
[Project A1] [Project
A2] [Project A3] [Project A5]
[Project A6] [Project