first project meeting, UEA, 27-28 October

The first project meeting of the European side of the team has been held at UEA for the past two days. It has proved a fruitful and enjoyable meeting of minds (I hope I do not speak just for myself…!).

We have talked a lot about scale: which scale is the most appropriate to reach a good understanding of the past of this part of West Africa.  A 4x4m trench at a single site? A series of test pits at several sites? Survey over 20x20km? Enquiries in each household over 100km?

Much depends of your disciplinary slant, too.

However, in order to answer the questions that Crossroads was set up to explore – boundaries, technical know-how, the effect of political change – it seems imperative we operate both on a very fine-grained scale – getting a sense of how space was used within an individual settlement or even an individual structure – and the broad-scale – how, over a region (the entire valley, and its affluents), material culture changes.

More to follow, after these first impressions hot off the press.

The meeting now concludes with a talk at the Centre for African Art and Archaeology and a farewell dinner, till Benin.


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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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