20
Jan
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karimama, 19 january

The ‘flying team’ have just completed a week’s work in the bush, on a hill north-west of Kompa. We chose to test pit this site because in our 2011 survey we’d found both pottery and iron-working remains dotted about this area, an unusual combination. Also, we had noted that there was a seasonal stream running across the site which might conceivably have cut across in situ layers of the settlement, enabling us to make a quick assessment.

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In our 2013 work we met and surpassed the expectations of the first aim. Not only did we find ceramics on most of the mounds we surveyed, but they were quite often combined with slag (iron-working residue). We also mapped and cleaned some furnaces, some well-preserved providing indications of technology used. We excavated a couple of test pits which yielded a good sample of ceramics (helping us understand the settlement of the area), even though they were poor in terms of features or stratigraphy (‘just pots and sand …. like a ditch’commented Nadia).

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We camped near the site and enjoyed dinner under the stars every evening.

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The ‘Flying team’ was Abbas, Caroline, Louis, Nadia and I, with driver Imorou. We have two more test pits to complete, this time not far from Karimama.

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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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