Archive for March 22nd, 2012


student contributions!

I can describe my experience of the fieldwork in the Crossroads of Empires project as the highpoint of this year for me. As an archaeology student, I must say I really enjoyed participating in my first dig in African soil, especially since I had taken up archaeology out of interest for Africa’s past. I also had an amazing time conducting interviews with the region’s inhabitants to collect data about contemporary plant use for my MA thesis. Those human interactions were very fulfilling, as people in and around Birni Lafia astounded me by their kindness and generosity.

Julien Jourand, Université Libre de Bruxelles

The few inconveniences like car problems, little illnesses or sardines with (a lot of) palm oil in many meals can’t dampen my enthusiasm. The name, “merry village”, suits Birny Lafia. Indeed, people were very nice, like these little kids who everyday brought us onions and tomatoes literately just out of the earth. The site, with a great team, was very interesting. From the beginning, it has seemed impressive: I have never seen as many potsherds on surface  and over such an extent. And the excavations didn’t fail to meet my expectations, especially the pavements of the testpit III.  In brief, this first African fieldwork was successful, professionally and humanly.

Nicolas Nikis, Université Libre de Bruxelles

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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March 2012