The Sudanese-Ethiopian borderland has seen interaction between state and non-state peoples for at least two millennia. However, little is known about these interactions from an archaeological point of view. Our research project intends to cast light on this topic by looking at the lowlands of nw Ethiopia. Surveys conducted during three field seasons in the Metema and Qwara regions – in the Atbara-Dinder watershed – have allowed us to document different cultural traditions that are related to Sudan in medieval and post-medieval times. Here, we present the data and discuss the relevance of the findings to understand border dynamics from the mid-first millennium ad onwards.