The Kerma culture was based on a strongly hierarchical society that depended on agriculture and stock breeding, as witnessed by archaeological evidence. It has been possible to identify domestic animals in the capital as well as in Gism el-Arba, a rural area some 30 km to the south. At these two sites, many clay figurines of animals have been found. More than 700 medium-size figurines were discovered at Gism el-Arba, most of which show no very precise characteristics. Nevertheless, other examples provide defining characteris-tics which allow us to distinguish between cows and bulls. Some figurines display a non-standard morphology, from which we were able to identify miniature, "statopygeous" and "discophorous" types. Amongst these figurines, whether generalized or particular, several have been incised with various symbols before firing. Clay figurines existed over lengthy periods in other cultures. Whether they were reckoning counters, children's toys or religious objects the purpose of these figurines has not yet been precisely identified, although we can, at least, draw comparisons with today's examples.
Kerma, Gism el-Arba, cattle, figurines, “discophores”, marks.