In Russia, it is common knowledge that the country’s greatest poet, Pushkin, was descended from an African who was raised to high rank by Czar Peter the Great. Research done by Beninese historian Dieudonné Gnammankou led him to conclude that this great-grandfather most likely began life as the son of a chief in the sultanate of Logone-Birni, Cameroon.


A 1,700-year-old skeleton shows that people of African descent have lived in Warwickshire for far longer than was previously thought. Archaeologists said they now believed the man may have been a Roman soldier who chose to retire in Stratford after serving in an African unit.

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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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June 2011
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