08
Jun
15

the earlier people

We have by now over a hundred radiocarbon dates from our various sites. The majority – about three quarters – date to between  500 and 1300 AD, which appears to be a key period for the settlement of the area. However, we have inklings of earlier occupation, too. Until now, indications for this early phase, of the first millennium BC, came just from one site, Alibori Site 2, excavated by Didier N’D in 2014: as its name indicates this was close to the Alibori river, and not too far from Birnin Lafiya. There, two samples from Trench III (below) indicated occupation sometimes between the eighth and fifth centuries BC.

P1000722

Now, with some new radiocarbon dates just received, we have confirmation of another early occupation, nearly 3000 years old, at a site called Kozungu, on a mound just outside modern Birni Lafia (photo below). It was visited by the architects and ethnographers in our team, then subjected to test pitting by Ali LS, Nicolas N and Daouda A.

IMGP7216

These excavators had suspected there was an early occupation at this place, based on a discontinuity in the stratigraphy. That impression was confirmed later, during pottery analysis, when we found that the material from the lower part of the trench looked really different.

Now we can suggest thanks to the radiocarbon dates that people apparently lived at Kozungu 3000 years ago then the site was abandoned and reoccupied at a much later date (13th century AD).

It’s a nice result because it sheds a bit more light on the earlier inhabitants of Dendi, who preceded the people building pavements and using huge numbers of pots and who for that reason are much easier to spot in the archaeological record.

05
Jun
15

studies continue

As we enter the final few months of the Crossroads project, we are reaching the end of our pottery analysis. 25 kilos of sherds returned to Cotonou just this week, thanks to our friend and colleague Joseph A.

Meanwhile, the animal bone is in Brussels, the human bone in Cambridge, the carnelian beads in Leicester, the metal objects and slag in Toulouse, the charcoal in Brussels and Miami, and the glass and shell beads in Frankfurt.

The challenge now is to pull of all of this together for the book.

image

Work ongoing by Ronika P at the at the Palaeoanthropology Laboratory of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies

18
May
15

top views

Here is some relatively random information for readers who wish to identify their peers. All supplied to me via WordPress, with thanks.

In the past seven days:

United Kingdom in the lead, United States second, Benin third

In the past 30 days:

Belgium in the lead, United Kingdom second, United States third. Good showing from Switzerland and Germany!

In the past year:

United Kingdom in the lead, United States second, Belgium third. Good showing from France, Nigeria, Italy, Japan and Botswana!

17
May
15

first meeting of the cowrie shell project

On April 1 we launched a new research project, aiming to better understand the cultural and commercial uses of cowries in West Africa. The most famous member of the cowrie family, the moneta or money cowrie, has served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, but among places where cowries had strong ritual and commercial functions in medieval times are the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean, and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. I wrote about this a couple of years ago, here and here. And now, here we are, with a proper, full scale research project with funding from the Leverhulme Trust.

We held the initial project meeting in Glandford, home of the Glandford shell museum. A rite of passage.

DSCN0437

The project brings together a West African archaeologist (myself), a marine biologist, an Africanist anthropologist, and a Maldivian archaeologist on a PhD studentship; a postdoctoral researcher will be recruited very soon. By bringing together expertise in marine biology, collections-based research, anthropology and archaeology, we’re hoping we can shed new light on how this one object, the cowrie, was valued within and between cultures over 750 years. So, we will be undertaking museum collections work, reappraisal of archaeological collections, and excavations of Islamic period contexts in the Maldives.

DSCN0427

13
May
15

photography again

Those pots are getting a lot of attention. Having been drawn mid-April, the same lot have now been photographed.

_IGP8940ed

Andi, who had previously been here to photograph our small finds, was back. Henriette R assisted with the process and we obtained some good individual shots as well as more artistic family groups.

_IGP8932_ed

The plan now is for these to go back to Benin, some as early as next week as we take advantage of a visiting colleague…

_IGP8950

01
May
15

new video

Visit the Crossroads exhibition archive to hear Benin archaeologist Didier N’Dah describe the aims and results of the project in northern Benin. This interview was made in March during our latest field trip for the project.

20
Apr
15

erc statistics

East Anglia is a good place to be…

“The 10 most attractive [macro-regions] for ERC grantees are the region of Île-de-France (which encompasses the Parisian metropolitan area), Inner London, East Anglia (which encompasses Cambridgeshire), the Lake Geneva region (which encompasses the Swiss cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Valais), the region of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, the metropolitan region of Zurich, the autonomous community of Catalonia, the administrative region of Upper Bavaria (which encompasses the city of Munich), the province of South Holland (which includes in its territory the cities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam), and the region of Rhône-Alpes (which encompasses the metropolitan area of Lyon). Within the group of … regions with more than 20 grantees, the highest aggregate success rates were attained by three Swiss regions, those of Northwestern Switzerland (with a success rate of almost 30 %), Lake Geneva and Zurich, East Anglia, the administrative region of Upper Bavaria, the region of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, Île-de-France, Inner London, and the provinces of North Holland and Gelderland (with a success rate of more than 15 %)”

Annual Report on the ERC activities and achievements in 2014, page 46




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!

Please log in often, comment and/or subscribe to keep up to date with what's happening.

Blog Stats

  • 20,781 hits

Recent posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. There will be a special prize for the 50th subscriber

Join 127 other followers

Calendar

June 2015
M T W T F S S
« May    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 127 other followers