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Shinnie, P.L. 1915–2007

Shinnie, P.L. 1915–2007

(Peter Shinnie, Peter L. Shinnie, Peter Lewis Shinnie)


See index for CA sketch: Born January 18, 1915; died July 9, 2007. Archaeologist, Africanist, historian, linguist, educator, and author. Shinnie went to Africa with the training and intention to be an Egyptologist, but his fate lay farther afield. After World War II he went to the Sudan to work as a field archaeologist and became a government commissioner there. He spent many years studying the ancient Meroe people of the Kush, located in the Nubian region of northern Sudan, approaching their civilization with the spade of an archaeologist and the heart of a historian. After Sudan's independence from Egyptian and English oversight in the 1950s, Shinnie's job went to a native Sudanese, and the scholar made his way southward toward Uganda, where he worked briefly as the director of antiquities, then westward to Ghana. He became a specialist in the strip of Africa south of the Sahara Desert where these countries lay. Perhaps because of his several career moves, Shinnie's perspective was that of an Africanist not rooted in any particular region, nor was he focused on a specific time period. He was interested in cultural changes over time as they were manifested in a people's history, language, oral traditions, and artifacts. The closest he came to his original career goal of Egyptology was the time he spent just south of Egypt studying the culture of ancient Nubia. Shinnie taught archaeology at the University of Ghana for eight years, then returned to the Sudan to teach at the University of Khartoum until 1970, when he left Africa for Canada. He was a professor at the University of Calgary until 1980, when retirement enabled him to return to Africa for occasional research expeditions, though by then the land of the Meroe was mostly in the flood plain of the new Aswan Dam. Shinnie's dedication to Meroe culture was recognized near the end of his life when he was awarded the Sudanese Order of the Two Niles. Shinnie's books, more than a dozen in number, reflect his interests: Meroe: A Civilization of the Sudan (1967), The African Iron Age (1971), and Ancient Nubia (1996). He was also the founder and editor of newsletters and journals intended to keep scholars around the world in touch with ongoing research. These include Kush and Nyame Akuma, the latter of which was available at no cost to people living and working in Africa.



Times (London, England), October 11, 2007, p. 68.

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