This week I travelled down to London to show archaeologist & metallurgist Prof Marcos M-T a small pot and metal pendant which we uncovered in Kinolhas: see here, where I mention the recovery of a small cache of cowrie shells. The cache also included this small pot, a pendant and several glass beads.


Using the fantastic facilities of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology we subjected the various artefacts to x-ray fluorescence analysis – which determines the elemental composition of materials – and looked at them using a scanning electron microscope, which gave us a lot more information on the way that they were made.

One of the recurring questions in the archaeology of the Maldives is – how was the object made and how did the maker obtain the necessary raw materials? These questions are recurring ones in archaeology, but particularly significant in the context of the Maldives: a small land mass with very limited clay/mineral resources, and over 300km from the nearest land mass.





three and a half weeks back

After the fieldwork, comes the post-excavation work. My network and I have not been idle: the slag has gone to France, the plant remains to Australia and the charcoal to London. We wait to see what all these objects can tell us…

The pottery will be examined in Norwich by Shiura and I, but we will definitely need help on some of the sherds, given their variety.

The shells and bone will also be examined here in Norwich, by Annalisa.


unknown gunmen have killed two security escorts, kidnapped two archaeologists in Nigeria

conflict antiquities

Around 8.55am on Wednesday morning, abductors with ‘guns and machetes’ kidnapped two archaeologists in Janjala/Janjela/Jenjela village, Kadarko/Kagarko area (near the road between Kaduna airport and Abuja city), southern Kaduna state, north-western Nigeria. Tragically, according to the Archaeological Association of Nigeria, local hunters Anas Ibrahim and Adamu Abdulrahim, ‘who intervened to abort the kidnap’, were shot and killed.

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goodbye, kinolhas

On our last evening on the island, we were given a wonderful farewell.


The coolest cowrie-themed cake ever-complete with anatomically correct yellow ring around the dorsum!

A barbecue with fresh fish caught by Moamin.



day 32

Heading to the site with Councillors.


Final photos.

From the ground…


From the branches of a screwpine tree…


Taking levels


Then the backfilling begins. Having spent the last three weeks removing all the stones and sand from this patch, now we put them all back…


Good bye ibn Battuta’s harbour

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day 31

In order to tie our seven trenches into the wider landscape, we go surveying and make a record of any stone features we encounter.

A square stone on its own and the floorplan of what looks like a house!

A large scale wall and a possible well .

All this is also an opportunity to learn more about the vegetation. Above right, the feature which we interpret as a well was shrouded by a thick cover of dhigga (Hibiscus tiliaceus). Screwpine trees (Pandanus tectorus) seem to appreciate archaeological features; they are often comfortably settled over ruined stone structures.

Elsewhere on the site… work is clearly coming to an end.


On an unrelated note, but something I really had to mention. We have been eating very well. Including screwpine cake..!



lots of explaining to do

As our departure approaches, we have various opportunities to bring the community up to date with our findings.

First off a Council meeting at which we are given permission to remove the artefacts (seen here spread out on the table) from the island (so long as we promise to write a book about them).


Then a public event where we outline our findings and show people some of the objects unearthed.

A miniature pot, glass bracelets, a yellow pendant and a coarseware jar refitted by Hamid and Zaid prove most popular.

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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