I received a nice note from Julie Donnelly, who teaches at Clague Middle School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her 6th grade students had a bunch of really good questions about the dig and about living in a village in Sudan. It turns out that 6th graders are pretty smart! I’m going to try to answer their questions in several posts over the next week or two.
One group of questions was about life in the village.
There are maybe 1000 people living in El Kurru village (nobody seems to know for sure). The village is modern in some ways. There are four shops on the main street, including Waleed’s grocery store (above), the barber shop where I got my haircut, and a coffee shop that would amaze you—a woman making the delicious local coffee called jebena on coals that rest on the floor, which is sand. So, not a lot of businesses, but there are a few. People drop by the grocery store all day long…women sometimes feel more comfortable shopping through a window on the side of the store rather than going inside.
Nearly everyone here has a cell phone…one feature they enjoy is an ability to play the radio out loud on their phone while we are all working in the excavation. In fact, Sudanese went from having a pretty minimal wired phone network to a complete mobile phone network in a very short period of time in the last 10 years or so, and it is changing everything about working and living in Sudan.
And yes, there are mosques in the village and we hear calls to prayer throughout the day (with loud calls to prayer starting at 5:45 am!). The person who gives the call to prayer is called a muezzin, and we all have our favorite ones. This is one of the more observant Muslim places I’ve worked, and many people in the village go to the mosque to pray 5 times a day.