day 7, arriving

We will now be based in Kinolhas (Dhihevi: ކިނޮޅަސް). One of its claims to fame is that ibn Battuta first landed here when he arrived in the Maldives. He writes:

When I reached there I disembarked at the island of Kannalus [Kinolhas island in Raa atoll], a beautiful island in which there are numerous mosques. I put up at the house of one of its pious inhabitants where I was received hospitably by the jurist Ali. He was an accomplished man and had sons who pursued the study of sciences. There I met a man named Muhammad, a native of Dhofar (Zafar-ul-humuz), who entertained me and told me, ‘When you enter the island Mahal [Male’], the vezir will detain you, for the people there have no judge.’

A spot of impromptu survey – trying to link the putative medieval settlement with the reported medieval harbour. It is not all fine sandy beaches in the Maldives…

But there are some of these too, of course.



Meeting our team. We will hopefully work together for 22 days and do good research.

Kinolhas is about 0.5 km2 in size and has 580 inhabitants but a third live in Male’ in search for better education and job opportunities.


day 7, leaving

The end of our time in Utheemu. Early morning start, under the rain, from Utheemu, to airport, to fly to Baa atoll and thence to Raa atoll where lies our next target island, Kinolhas.


day 6, utheemu

Brief trip to Beenafushi, an island also known as Bodu boli finolhu… that is, the island of the cowries.


Annalisa recovered 11 live moneta cowries, and we also found some eggs. Getting a much better sense of how these animals live!

Returning to Utheemu, we visit the palace – as tourists this time, after our time there excavating last year.


Then back to our trench for the final afternoon. The name of the game is cleaning and sweeping before we plan and photograph. Slabs looking mighty fine!


back to school

Annalisa delivers a talk to pupils at Ghaazee Bandarain School, Utheemu.


She outlines what archaeology consists of – the subject is not even taughr at undergraduate level in the country – and ties it into what we have been doing here on the island.



day 5, utheemu

Third day working here. A Friday, but we have too much to get done to take a day off… (tomorrow being our final day on the island). Nonetheless, here is a mix of work & play images:

Excavation in the morning, finds processing in the afternoon.

Aquaerobics class!


Views of Utheemu life. Classic sunset shot. Middle: the palace; Hussein and David at breakfast. Bottom: where Shiura and I are staying.


day 4, utheemu

Some more progress in identifying other coralstone blocs in our trench, and the material associated with them. Their function, and the reason they came to lie here, remain a bit of a mystery…

Also, we know that the archaeological layer is not deep: today we reached the sterile layer (which, in the Maldives, manifests itself as fine, yellowish white sand). One question answered!

Perhaps the most unusual sound accompaniment I have ever had to a dig: the cheers and whistle blows of the aquaerobics class close by. Donkeys and camels braying, traffic, monkeys screeching, farm vehicles, I have all had, but this is definitely a first.





sherd of the day


Two notable sherds of the day, in fact. Three hours ago, they were sleeping peacefully in the ground. We think they might help us understand Utheemu’s connections with other parts of the world.


About this blog

This blog has been set up to chart the activities and research findings of two projects led by Anne Haour, an archaeologist from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The first project, called Crossroads, brings together a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are hoping to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years and to understand how population movements and craft techniques shaped the area's past.

The second project, called Cowries, examines the money cowrie, a shell which served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, and in medieval times most especially in the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. We hope to understand how this shell was sourced and used in those two areas.

These investigations are funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7) and by the Leverhulme Trust as a Research Project Grant. The opinions posted here are however Anne Haour's own!

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