Archive for the 'General' Category

09
Jul
14

Johannesburg next week

For those of you who will be at next week’s meeting of the Pan African Archaeological Association for Prehistory and Related Studies / Society of Africanist Archaeologists (see here for something on the last SAfA), there are plenty of opportunities to hear about Crossroads.

Sam kicks things off on Monday afternoon, introducing the important site of Birnin Lafiya and its well-preserved archaeology. Tuesday Caroline et al and Louis et al focus in on aspects of the remains recovered – metallurgy and cultivation respectively. Wednesday, we open it all back up again, with papers by Nadia, Didier, Ali and I looking at the wider landscape around our field sites, and what we might be able to say about the past of that area, and in methodological terms for archaeology more generally.

Here are the details:

Mon 13h00-14h30
AN ARCHITECTURAL COMPLEX OF THE 12TH-13TH CENTURIES AD FROM THE EASTERN ARC OF THE RIVER NIGER (REPUBLIC OF BENIN, WEST AFRICA)
Sam Nixon (University of East Anglia)

Tues 10h30-12h00
IRON AND BLACKSMITHS IN THE DENDI (NORTH BENIN)
Caroline Robion-Brunner (CNRS-Université de Toulouse), Marie-Pierre Coustures (Université de Toulouse)

Tues 15h00-16h30
RICE AND MILLETS IN EARLY BENIN: ARCHAEOBOTANICAL RESEARCH IN BENIN IN THE CONTEXT EARLY WEST AFRICAN AGRICULTURE
Louis Champion (University College London), Anne Haour (University of East Anglia), Leilani Lucas (University College London), Dorian Fuller (University College London)

Wed 10h30-12h00
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF FIRST-MILLENNIUM SETTLEMENT IN NORTHERN BENIN, WEST AFRICA
Anne Haour (University of East Anglia), Alexandre Livingstone Smith (Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium)

Wed 10h30-12h00 Farmers
CONTRIBUTION OF THE ANTHROPIC MOUNDS OF ATAKORA AND THE NIGER RIVER VALLEY (NORTH BENIN) TO KNOWLEDGE ON THE HISTORY OF POPULATION SETTLEMENT
N’Dah Didier (Université Nationale du Bénin)

Wed 10h30-12h00
INTO THE UNKNOWN: USING FIELD SURVEY AND GIS TECHNIQUES IN THE NIGER RIVER VALLEY, REPUBLIC OF BENIN
Nadia Khalaf (University of East Anglia)

Find out more here

05
Jun
14

on tour

The past few weeks have been ones of intense criss-crossing of networks. Lots of exciting things. I attended two conferences organised by David Mattingly’s ERC-funded Trans-Saharans project, which is investigating the nature and consequences of the inter-connectivity of the Trans-Saharan zone in the preislamic period. The themes were the extent and commodities of trade and the evidence of human migration and identity formation as revealed by funerary archaeology. We talked about carnelian, pots, Amazight linguistics, the shape of camel’s feet and the use of Roman ceramics in Garamantean burials, among other things. I delivered a paper in Birmmingham as part of the Africa Talks series; we talked about social complexity as seen by archaeologists and about what our northern Bénin evidence adds to the picture of the West African past. John Mack, SRU Visiting Fellow Kodzo Gavua and I accompanied a number of students and colleagues to see the exhibiton Fragmentary Ancestors in Manchester. I was present in spirit in Austin for the Society of American Archaeology meeting, for which Stephanie Wynne-Jones and I prepared a paper about connections in early medieval Africa – contrasting East and West (and Sam was there presenting Birnin Lafiya); and at the Cambridge memorial workshop in honour of Thurstan Shaw where Sam and I talked about Birnin Lafiya and its corpus of glass and stone beads.
Back in Norwich, we the SRU hosted a major international symposium; and on a smaller scale, we at the Centre for African Art and Archaeology also welcomed several speakers and visitors from the US, Maldives, Brussels, and London – we discussed pots, cowries, borders, and Borno.
All of this has formed a dense network of threads and raised a great many questions and common research themes which – in some distant, faraway, place – all meet and coalesce.

31
Jan
14

photos

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31
Dec
13

2013 blog summary

In 2013 this blog was viewed about 6300 times by people from 93 countries in all.

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The most popular post was this one,  which is good to know because I was planning to write in the next few days a similar one for this year!

Happy New Year to all and thank you for reading.

 

14
Nov
13

After AARD

Having waved goodbye to colleagues and friends we thank everyone for an enjoyable and productive African Archaeology Research Day, and look forward to the next one, in Bristol, with 2015 in Stirling.

 

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30
Oct
13

African Archaeology Research Day 2013

After seven months of planning, we are just two days away from African Archaeology Research Days 2013, the yearly gathering of Africanists in the UK, which this year will be held at UEA. 

We have about 110 registered participants. We will have a couple of keynote papers, plenary session papers which will deal with Kenya, Tanzania, Benin, Mali, Senegal, Libya, the Sahara as a whole, the UK, Sudan, and the Western Sahara. Focus discussion groups dealing with archaeology and development, museum collections, the Indian Ocean system, and ritual in archaeology will consider those and other parts of the continent and bring the plenary session participants up to date with burning thematic developments in the field. 

The fun starts at 9.15 Friday.

01
Oct
13

MA theses 2013

I have received and am reading four Masters theses, supervised by colleagues from various institutions, by students who took part in the 2012 and 2013 fieldwork…

Première approche du système morphologique, ornemental et technique de la céramique du site de « Tintin » au Bénin by Louis Champion, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier

Study of a collection of archaeological beads from Birnin Lafiya, northern Benin by Héloïse Meziani, University of East Anglia

Birni Lafia, un village Dendi : Tentative d’application de la méthode d’analyse typomorphologique au regard du contexte rural africain by Jean-François Pinet, Faculté d’architecture La Cambre-Horta, Université Libre de Bruxelles

Des arbres et des hommes : La végétation comme indicateur archéologique lors des prospections pédestres en Afrique, apport des connaissances botaniques des habitants de l’agglomération de Birni Lafia (République du Bénin, commune de Karimama) à l’archéologie by Julien Jourand, Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Congratulations to all and for those who wish to find out more, most of this work will be presented at African Archaeology Research Day in a few weeks’ time, so please come along to that.

12
Jul
13

Interview

Here is a recent interview I did which deals with lessons which I believe modern society might be able to learn from the information we’re unearthing about medieval West African cultures. 

Previous post on related topic: this, linking to this.

I’m also doing an interview on Monday for  Radio New Zealand’s show Nights,  which bills itself as ‘Unfurling fresh ideas and sounds along with the best radio documentaries and features from here and overseas’. Among things we’ll discuss are what happened to the people who lived in the Niger Valley a thousand years ago, how medieval life in Africa compared with life in Europe at the same time, and the role of large trees. Tune in Monday 21.10 New Zealand time (10.10 in UK, 11.10 continental Europe).

08
Jul
13

Malé, 8 july

Despite spending a lot of time in the ocean in the past week or so (at depths of between 1 and 18 m) I have not succeeded in seeing a live Cypraea moneta cowrie: apparently, they feed at night, are masters of camouflage, and have been depleted by the Maldives’ long history as a cowrie trading nation.

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I did learn that these molluscs were often caught using rafts of coconut fibres to which they would attach themselves – and that although dead cowries wash up onto the beach (I saw some of these), those which had been fished alive were considered more valuable, as they were shinier.

Marion Johnson’s 1970 paper describes the cowrie trade from the West African perspective – but meanwhile I had a valuable opportunity to discuss the cowrie trade from a Maldivian perspective, by meeting yesterday with archaeologist and historian colleagues at the National Museum and the National Centre for Historical and Linguistic Research (meetings kindly facilitated by our holiday resort manager!). I return loaded with books and offprints…  Thus, some interesting things to think about in an island nation I have hoped to visit for over 25 years.

aaaDSC00318top left is a cypraea moneta

14
Jun
13

a map

People have been asking for a map showing exactly where we work. Here is one, with thanks to mapmaker extraordinaire Nadia K:

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About this blog

We are a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are carrying out new excavations and research to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years.

This blog will tell you all about it.

This investigation is funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7); it is led by Dr Anne Haour of the University of East Anglia, UK. The opinions posted here are however her own!

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