Arranged thousands of Cemeteries Medieval Islamic burials in eastern Sudan are in hard-to-detect patterns, with sacred cemeteries containing sub-groups of burials emerging from the main cemeteries.
Archaeologists have discovered these tombs that form a strange, galaxy-like pattern, according to a research paper published July 7 in the journal PLOS One, and detailed in “Science Alert” and “Live Science.”
10 thousand monuments
The team used satellite images to locate more than 10,000 monuments in the Kassala region in eastern Sudan.
Archaeological monuments also include burials made of stone, which are “relatively simple raised structures, widespread in prehistoric times and African history” and “domes”.
After the team mapped the funerary monuments, they struggled to interpret the data, given that few of the monuments had been excavated.
From the magazine Plos One
Stefano Costanzo, lead author of the paper, said: “We were faced with the challenge of explaining the creation of the funeral scene with almost no traditional archaeological data.”
“But we had a large enough data set to be able to assume that there were complex processes at the regional and local levels,” he added.
He also explained that “to the naked eye, it was clear that the cluster graves were conditioned by the environment, but perhaps there is a deeper meaning in their spatial arrangement.”
The modeling technique revealed that Islamic tombs “hidden several sub-groups revolving around the unidentifiable mother tombs (meaning major graves)” that served as centers of attraction for later burials.
It appears to be motivated by the general sanctity of the site and the social paths of still-existing mobile groups, according to Constanzo.
The study also confirmed that areas where building materials were readily available tended to contain more tombs and that environmental factors, such as the topography of the landscape, could also affect the location of tombs.
From the magazine Plos One
In parallel, the team reported that the Kassala region is inhabited by the Beja people, many of whom still live a semi-nomadic lifestyle. “Local assemblies are most likely tribal/family cemeteries of the Beja people,” the team wrote.
They pointed out that more research is needed to determine the exact locations of the “mother” tombs, explaining that more research could also reveal who was buried in these tombs and what made them so special.
Satellite images from the magazine Plos One
However, one scientist suggested a limitation to the study, with Philip Riris, a lecturer in paleoarchaeological and ecological modeling at Bournemouth University in the UK, concerned that the team included graves from vastly different time periods in the same model.
This is “risky because different funeral traditions are all thrown together,” Rires said.
“Reader. Infuriatingly humble travel enthusiast. Extreme food scholar. Writer. Communicator.”