University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series > Heavy Rainfalls in a Desert(ed) City – a climate-archaeological case study from Naga, Sudan

Heavy Rainfalls in a Desert(ed) City – a climate-archaeological case study from Naga, Sudan

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In the semi-arid region along the fringe of the north-eastern Sahel and the eastern Sahara desert, about 150 km north of Khartoum and 40 km south of the Nile, the remains of this Meroitic city Naga are located. During its heydays the city has been a highly developed central place, with a high population and an economic culmination from about 300 BCE to 300 CE. Naga is the target of archaeological research since several decades and since 2008 of geoscientific investigations. The main construction in Meroitic Naga, the “Great Hafir of Naga”, was built around the turn from BCE to CE to collect surface runoff. This study is an approach to investigate the ancient water harvesting measures, focusing on the relation of the water availability and the water storage capacity. Work on hydrological and climatological questions in the regions involves typical problems of drylands: the catchments of the wadis are ungauged, climate data are spatially and temporally fragmentary and information on the physical characteristics of the catchment is either scant or coarsely resolved. Moreover, rainfall and runoff are spatially and temporally highly variable, so that quantitative estimations of present and to an even greater extent, past climatological and hydrological processes are problematic. The contribution aims to present the concept, background and results of an approach to cope with these challenges and to model the catchments’ rainfall-runoff relationships including the behavior of the water supply systems of the ancient city of Naga.

This talk is part of the Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series series.

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