Archive for August, 2012


Outsiders and strangers: an archaeology of liminality in West Africa

I’ve now finished my book. It goes off to OUP tomorrow.  It is theoretical but feeds directly into the Crossroads project because it is focused on technical specialists, among other categories of immigrant and outsider. Outsiders, incomers and migrants feature heavily in the oral and written historical record for West Africa and so the idea in the book is to see how archaeologists can see these people. In a nutshell, that is the broad aim.  The idea first came to me three and a half years ago and it has been actually quite fun (most of the time) and therapeutic (in the past 18 months) to be writing it. All being well, it will be out within 2013.

Plenty on the Crossroads diary for the autumn. The two main jobs on the archaeological front are going to be doing the pottery analysis (look forward to a few more of the ever-popular ‘sherd of the day’ features…) and examining and mapping the survey data from 2011 and 2012. Also in the diary are several meetings – the European team members will gather in Norwich in early October, and the African-based team members in Abidjan in November. I will be giving talks in Oxford, Southampton and at UCL. An incentive to pull things together. This will all feed in directly into the next field season, slated for early next year.

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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August 2012