The Neolithic Mission (QSAP-06) further pursues research previously conducted by Jacques Reinold, on Middle Neolithic sites (5th millennium BC), in the Kadruka area (Northern Dongola Reach, Northern State). Since 2014, the present mission is a joint QSAP-SFDAS-NCAM-French CNRS operation, directed by Dr. O. Langlois, Dr. P. Chambon and Dr. P. Sellier.
The work in progress includes the study and publication of several of the burial mounds (“kôm”) explored by J. Reinold within the Kadruka concession. The kôm KDK1 is the first cemetery under study. All available human bones from all of the sites excavated by J. Reinold are also currently included in another separate research endeavour seeking to clarify the biological and demographic status of these ancient peoples (Emma Maines, PhD in progress).
The excavation of another kôm, KDK 23, was also organized, and, following five campaigns, 110 graves have been registered, with an overall estimation of approximately 200. The top of the mound appears to have been completely occupied by graves. All but three of the graves excavated were individual human burials. Despite the high density of burials, some concentrations are obviously not random. Indeed, in some cases, the location or the position of individuals appear to take into account those of previous burials. This consideration is visible because of the subsequent symmetry of placement between multiple, chronologically distinct burials. The cemetery mixes adults of both sexes and children of all ages, with a proportion of very young individuals that may correspond to a natural mortality pattern. The grave goods are numerous and diverse: pottery vessels, typically above burials, are quite systematic; but artefacts also include personal adornment, bone tools, stone axes, yellow or red pigment... Five graves contained flint sickles, and ten have revealed bucrania.
The project also aimed to explore several of the numerous settlement areas (indicated by concentrations of flint flakes and other artefacts), seen in the vicinity of the burials mounds. In proximity to KDK23, one of these sites (KDK23-H) was submitted to evaluation. A test excavation brought to light hundreds of small pits, most of which proved to be postholes, whose distribution pattern do not allow for a reconstruction of the shape of the dwelling. A basin-shaped hearth was brought to light, surrounded by hundreds of stone flakes and many animal bone fragments. A paleo-channel, discovered at the edge of this area and whose upper filling has been dated to around ca. 4000 cal. BC, likely separated the dwelling from the burial mound. Along the former Wadi-El-Khowi, sites of this type were frequent and hail from multiple periods. Unfortunately, a great number of them have already been destroyed by agricultural works. Two of these sites (KDK05B and KDK05A) have been dated, respectively, ca 3500 cal. BC and ca 3000 cal. BC, proving that the area was occupied during the mid-4th millennium, a period seen as a 'gap' in the regional chronology.