The Horn of Africa and the Upper Nile Basin are areas of ancient human settlement. Several human groups, civilizations and monarchies have found there shelter since millennia before the Christian Era up to the present. These aras have also been centres of intense architectonic experimentation and innovation. Examples of this are widespread, such as in the towns of Ancient and Medieval Nubia, the pyramids of Meroe, the Gondar castles and the colonial cities in Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia.
This interdisciplinary workshop will explore the uses of architecture by the different groups and individuals that have exerted or tried to exert power in the societies and geographies of the Horn of Africa and the Upper Nile Basin. Considering the important archaeological and historical heritage of these areas the workshop will study monumental and domestic architecture and their political and symbolic roles. The workshop will be attended by scholars from disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences, including Philology, Archaeology, History, Anthropology and Geography.
Some of the questions the presenters will address include: Is the architecture of power in the Horn of Africa diametrically opposed to profane or domestic architecture or rather the two emerge and function according to similar symbolisms and cultural patterns? What techniques, designs and models, local or foreign, have been used to raise architectures of power, and which groups, polities and individuals have been associated with them? What role did factors such as ecology, religion, ideology, military development and diplomacy exert in shaping architectures of power? How did counter-powers, such as prophetic figures, rebels and merchant groups, relate to and eventually appropriate the constructions of the powers they were challenging?
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