Malanville, 7 feb 2012

Malanville is the border town between Bénin and Niger, sitting on the shore of the majestic Niger River and the major settlement in these parts.

For the past two and a half weeks, the team has been intensively crisscrossing and excavating the area upriver from here. Olivier, Doulla, Mardjoua and Lucie have been talking to blacksmiths, dyers, potters and weavers and learning about immigrants from Mali, rites and trade in fish. Abubakar and Wahabou dug a test pit near Pékinga and uncovered a potsherd pavement, hinting to some degree of kinship with Birnin Lafiya. Paul and Emma have (despite the best efforts of the Air France handlers) sampled sites up and down the valley to track use of resources by past inhabitants and the way the river influences settlement now and before.

Most of the work has focused at Birnin Lafiya (where we have been wondefully welcomed, lodged in the local administrative offices and kept supplied in cool drinks and ice by the police). Adamu, Aminou and Simon, on what was supposed to be an easy student training pit, are puzzling over a deep trench with some eight interlocking pit features, including one containing several toys. Ali worked through an ashy midden with lots of fish bone and then started surveying the wider area arund the site. Sam is patiently piecing together a succession of postherd pavements, plaster-faced walls and fired brick. Carlos is carrying out a geophysics survey, systematically working over the surface of the site in 30x30m squares yet far from exhausting this extensive settlement. Nicolas and Louis are preparing to begin their own, 3x3m, trench, which will be called SVI. Julien is learning from village elders about history and past tree usage.

We are just over halfway through so await further discoveries. It’s a complex and fascinating historical landscape.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

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!

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

Blog Stats

  • 32,384 hits

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 154 other followers


February 2012
« Jan   Mar »

%d bloggers like this: