Archive for January, 2012

19
Jan
12

Cotonou 19 Jan 2012

The rest of the Europe-based team arrived last night, minus Paul A’s luggage but otherwise unscathed and in fine spirits. One of the team vehicles is now (almost) operational and we’ve made arrangements to hire a minibus for a week until the Crossroads car becomes available. So we leave tomorrow 6am for the north!

18
Jan
12

Cotonou 18 Jan 2012 – Crafting equipment

As is traditional, the first few days of fieldwork have been taken up gathering equipment – buying, borrowing and having made. In the photo above, Sam and Didier explain to tailors how to stitch archaeobotanical sampling bags. Sam brought from the UK some very fine mesh – it has a quarter of a millimetre gaps – and we bought locally some cotton percale cloth. The tailor is stitching all this to make 11 sacs with a mesh base.  On site, these sacs will be used for archaeobotanical sampling: essentially placing a chosen sample of earth in water and running the mix through the mesh, in order to pick up minute fragments of charred seed, chaff, etc.Which, obviously, will tell us what plants people were using in the past. This is interesting for several reasons, not least because it tells us about past culinary practices – a cultural artefact – and about contacts that various regions had with one another as evidenced through the movement of food crops.

Abubakar S arrived yesterday via Lagos to join the team, and we expect six other colleagues on tonight’s flight from Paris.

At yesterday’s planning session at Université Abomey Calavi’s Department of Archaeology, History and Art History the various strands of the project started to come into even closer focus. The working plan is for Anselme G to examine the changing way in which Islam was promoted in Dendi while Dendi was the southernmost province of the Songhai empire, and after the empire’s collapse. Obarè B will continue his earlier work on Borgou to examine what oral traditions have to say around the town of Guene about that region’s role in controlling commerce south to Borgou and north/east into the Hausa regions. Art historian Didier H will examine, in a historical perspective, the traditions of weaving and dyeing in our study area along the Niger river. Previous field season members Oumarou B-G and Didier N’D have already been mentioned. In addition, we will be accompanied by ten Abomey-Calmavi students who will be joining the project to receive training in the various aspects of fieldwork.

Now all we need is  car or two…

16
Jan
12

Cotonou Jan 16 2012

The 2012 field season is now well and truly on its way. Sam, Didier and I have been making arrangements in Cotonou in advance of our planning meeting with Université Abomey Calavi colleagues tomorrow, and the arrival of the remainder of the Europe-based team in the coming days.
It is a pleasant 25 degrees and hazy. One of the Crossroads team members, soon-to-be Dr Oumarou B-G, has been named Directeur de Cabinet for Minister for Families Fatouma Amadou Djibril. Petrol is in short supply following the cancellation by the government of neighbouring  Nigeria of the petrol subsidy, which has caused a doubling of the price of fuel.

11
Jan
12

Pre-announcement : Doctoral scholarship in West African Studies

A fully-funded doctoral scholarship, tenable at the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas (University of East Anglia) under the supervision of Dr Anne Haour, will be available commencing October 2012, linked to the project Crossroads of empires.

The PhD scholarship will cover fees (UK/EU or International) and maintenance for three years, plus some fieldwork and conference costs. The topic, to be finalised in discussion with members of the Crossroads team, will fall within the following areas:

– ethnographic studies of craft practices;
– medieval and post-medieval archaeology of the Niger Valley;
– museum collections of the central Sahel;
– cultural heritage in West Africa.

Full details and an application form will be available in late February, with an anticipated application deadline of 1st April.

 

01
Jan
12

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here are some excerpts:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for crossroadsofempires.wordpress.com, salines du midi, clement bakinde, and gobero expedition.

Most visitors came from The United Kingdom. Switzerland & The United States were not far behind. 32.8% of African visitors came from Nigeria.Viewers came also from the Philippines, Chile and Russia.

Click here to see the complete report.




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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