‘Graffiti as Devotion Along the Nile' moves into the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor

From El-Kurru, Sudan to Ann Arbor, Michigan, graffiti provides glimpse into past

By Sarah M. Parlette - Associated Producer

The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is at 434 S. State St. Photo | Sarah M. Parlette

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Starting Aug. 23, a new exhibition in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in downtown Ann Arbor provides a window into the unique purpose of graffiti in ancient Sudan. 

Graffiti as a form of religious devotion may seem out of place in modern Ann Arbor, but in ancient Sudan , also known as Kush, graffiti played a purpose for those making religious pilgrimages throughout the region. 

“Graffiti as Devotion Along the Nile” highlights the usage of graffiti by the people of Kush and demonstrates the role Kushite graffiti played in temples, pyramids and other monumental structures within the Meroitic period. 

The graffiti, which includes religious images such as rams, horned altars and boats, tells how those making pilgrimages gathered at certain parts of the temple and pyramid structures at El-Kurru in northern Sudan. 

The exhibition will be made up of photos, interactive media and texts about Kushite and Meroitic graffiti that has been discovered in an archaeology project by the Kelsey Museum at El-Kurru.

  Like what you're reading? Sign up for our email newsletter here!

While the graffiti itself cannot be dated, in a recent interview, Geoff Emberling, the co-director of the El-Kurru project and an associate research scientist at the Kelsey Museum, said that carbon dating from jars found at the El-Kurru site as well as archeological layers in the temple, suggests that at least some of the graffiti dates from between 100 BCE and 100 CE. 

To learn more about the graffiti of El-Kurru, visit the Kelsey Museum on Sept. 5 for an exhibition opening lecture or attend a free curator tour on Sept. 8 and Oct. 27. 

"Graffiti as Devotion Along the Nile: El-Kurru, Sudan" will be on display at the Kelsey Museum until March 29, 2020. 

All events through the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology are free and open to the public unless otherwise stated. The museum is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on weekends from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Kelsey Museum is located at 434 S. State Street.

All About Ann Arbor is powered by ClickOnDetroit/WDIV

"Graffiti as Devotion along the Nile: El Kurru, Sudan" will run from Aug. 23 to March 29, 2020.