06
Mar
15

Karimama, 3 march

The final restitution session was in Karimama, involving all the village chiefs and authorities from the area.
As in previous sessions, Didier, Olivier and I spoke, and the leaflets (see an earlier post with the PDF of these) and images served as useful visual supports.

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At the end of the session we distributed leaflets to those attending – village chiefs and other authorities – so that they could distribute them in their communities.

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We’re getting a reputation; last week in Guene someone approached us for comment on some lithics they had found while digging a well.

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02
Mar
15

and otherwise

It hasn’t been sessions in dusty meeting rooms, of course.

An impromptu roadside discussion about cowrie shells and other shells

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We took the opportunity, along the Monsey Dendi to Karimama road, to take a pirogue trip along the Niger

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Here is the site of Tin Tin Kanza, cut by the road, and now we’re wondering whether it was ever a shell midden

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Gorouberi, with copious and large pieces of pottery in an erosion gully.

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Three test pits were done here over 2013 and 2014 and it turns out that it is our second-oldest site. The modern settlement, just visible in the trees in far distance, was tested by Ali’s team last year and on the evidence obtained is 800 years younger than the mound in its vicinity.

We ended the day in a venue that regular readers will recognise, the bar in Karimama.

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02
Mar
15

karimama, 2 march

Today’s restitution meeting was at Birni Lafia and concerned specifically the archaeological work we’ve done over four field seasons, totalling some 20-22 weeks, at the large abandoned settlement mound at the periphery of the village.

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Attendees were the men from the village who worked with us on the site over the years. Of the 52 involved, 31 were present . Seven people had left the village to travel for various reasons.

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team 2 P1020392

team 3 P1020402

Village elders were also invited

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Just three other women in the room…

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As has been our usual format, there were several speakers then a question and answer session.

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We went over the scientific results achieved – there was a remark about the depth of finds at the mound

mound depth P1020430

A discussion on the need to preserve the sites from natural and anthropogenic degradation

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Participants dispersed in the heat of the early afternoon sun

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All went very well and tomorrow’s session, the final one, will be in Karimama, administrative centre for the region.

01
Mar
15

karimama, 1 march

Today’s restitution was in Monsey Dendi, 3 hours up the river from Karimama. The landscape is beautiful but the road is rough.

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Over 350 people attended.

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There were questions
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There was a meal for community leaders, to conclude proceedings.
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Tomorrow, we wil be back in Birnin Lafiya, home turf of the archaeological team, Tuesday, restitution in Karimama.

27
Feb
15

guene, 27 feb

This morning was the first of three planned ‘séances de restitution’ where we report back to the populations of Dendi what we have learnt so far about the past of the region. Olivier and his team, who had preceded us into the region, had made a lot of the arrangements already, inviting the community leaders of the region between Madekali and Kantoro to attend a session this morning in a meeting room in Guene. They even got some griots. All that was left for us to do was buy 150kg of rice, a sheep and a goat.

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It all went very well as the images above hopefully show. The substantial remark we had (among dozens) was that the history of Dendi should be on the curriculum in local schools. There were a lot of thank yous and kind words otherwise, going both ways.

Next is Monsey Dendi on Sunday.

20
Feb
15

fieldwork – 2

Here is the document which we have designed to hand out to the various local communities amongst whom we have worked for the past 4 years in Dendi. We are really happy with it – we think it gives a good idea of what we have been up to and what we have been able to understand of the region. Hopefully others will agree!

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18
Feb
15

fieldwork – 4

I should have added that in fact fieldwork has already started for some of the team. Olivier and Lucie phoned earlier this morning from Dendi, where their interviews are going very well and they are preparing the ground for the ‘restitution of results’ events (and parties!) which we will be having next week. They are also hoping to visit the site of a well-known battle, which requires paperwork to be issued from the Niger side.

Mardjoua is on his way north from Cotonou, tasked with excavating some dyeing pits at Kwara Tegui Sambo Kwara and at Guéné. This is to test a hunch of Olivier’s that indigo dyeing was set up by artisans from the Mande world some 3-400 years ago.




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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