Back in Oxford for the final meeting of the Defining the Global Middle Ages workshop, following on from Birmingham, Newcastle and Oxford.The theme this time is ‘bringing your results to audiences beyond academia’ and I’ll be talking about the Crossroads exhibition which closed recently, and the comments we had from visitors about what they learnt through the exhibition. I’ll draw also on what I learnt through working with schoolchildren a few years back.
The end of project workshop went very well, with some 15 papers.
The opening, attended by Université Abomey Calavi’s vice-chancellor, the faculty dean, the head of the archaeology lab and the head of the department of history and archaeology, involved two presentations and a musical interlude.
Papers followed all through the Saturday and, on the Sunday, a round table on heritage.
Here is some local press coverage.
Refreshments were taken in the delightful setting of the Botanical Gardens of Université Abomey Calavi.
On dit à tout le monde à la prochaine fois.
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. At the end of the session we distributed leaflets to those attending so that they could distribute them in their communities. We’re getting a reputation; last week in Guene someone approached us for comment on some lithics they had found while digging a well.
It hasn’t been sessions in dusty meeting rooms, of course.
An impromptu roadside discussion about cowrie shells and other shells
We took the opportunity, along the Monsey Dendi to Karimama road, to take a pirogue trip along the Niger
Here is the site of Tin Tin Kanza, cut by the road, and now we’re wondering whether it was ever a shell midden
Gorouberi, with copious and large pieces of pottery in an erosion gully.
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.
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.
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.
Village elders were also invited
Just three other women in the room…
As has been our usual format, there were several speakers then a question and answer session.
We went over the scientific results achieved – there was a remark about the depth of finds at the mound
A discussion on the need to preserve the sites from natural and anthropogenic degradation
Participants dispersed in the heat of the early afternoon sun
All went very well and tomorrow’s session, the final one, will be in Karimama, administrative centre for the region.
Today’s restitution was in Monsey Dendi, 3 hours up the river from Karimama. The landscape is beautiful but the road is rough.
Over 350 people attended.
Tomorrow, we wil be back in Birnin Lafiya, home turf of the archaeological team, Tuesday, restitution in Karimama.
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.
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.