25
Jun
18

Watch “Bénin: Des fouilles archéologiques dans la réserve la Bouche du Roy, une première dans cette région” on YouTube

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19
Jun
18

other things

It wasn’t all about excavating. While on the coastline between Grand Popo and Cotonou, we also took the opportunity to…

Be interviewed by local ecotourism operator Eco-Benin about the results of our work, future prospects and the interlinking of heritage and tourism. You can read the result here (en français).

dav

Make a visit to Ouidah, with one of the students, Jules, a trained guide, as a shepherd. Ouidah is known as a centre for vaudou and also for the involvement of its people in the transatlantic slave trade. The Door of No Return commemorates this.

dav

sdr

After this visit we spent some time answering a questionnaire left near the site by a PhD student whose thesis concerns tourism and heritage in Ouidah. We were asked our impressions of Benin’s fledgling tourism and hospitality sector, right down to the names of the dishes we most enjoyed eating.

dav

On the island where we were excavating, we spent some time asking about cowrie shells, and specifically notions people had of the various species, including those native to the West African coast.

 

18
Jun
18

avlo, 12 june

Work continues… And grinds to a halt once we reach the water table.

Trench 1 in particular is very close to the river, its beach cluttered with potsherds which have eroded out of the island.

But it’s fine – we have the results we came for, which show that there is an archaeological record here that it would be well worth exploring through a bigger-scale project.

dav

The River Mono flowing past the site

18
Jun
18

avlo, 11 june

We’ve chosen two spots for our trenches. One is supervised by Nestor and the other by Imogen.

The trenches are 1×2 m in size and the going is relatively easy at first, getting more difficult as we get down to about 60cm depth and the soil turns very clayey and wet.

The finds are just what we had hoped for: lots of pottery (local and mainly rouletted), smoking pipes, cowries, glass fragments, beads, shells, and scraps of metal in poor shape.

sdr

The inevitable pot-washing

15
Jun
18

avlo, 9 june

The first step involves surveying the island and its neighbours – not the easiest of tasks given the dense vegetation.

The decision is then taken, based on whether we can see archaeological material on the surface and whether there are any other notable features of the ground, about where to place our two test pits.

dav

Placing Trench 2

11
Jun
18

avlo, 9 june

Settled in Avlo village, we take a first in-depth look at the site we are proposing to excavate in the next days.

 

08
Jun
18

crossroads book out soon

…well, soon-ish. The book has entered production with Brill and we’re expecting the first proofs in a couple weeks. With 33 co-authors and at 208,000 words, we hope it will be a fitting reflection of the work we put in between 2011 and 2015 in the Dendi region of northern Benin.

4017177

In a study of archaeological sites, standing remains, oral traditions and craft industries, 2000 Years in Dendi, northern Benin: archaeology, history and memory offers the first account of West African region often described as a crossroads of medieval empires.

 




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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