Birnin lafiya, 23 january

Work at Birnin Lafiya has been proceeding well. There is a large team deployed there – researchers, students and workmen amount to about thirty. The place is a hive of activity, which should come out nicely on the timelapse camera which Alan has installed.

The core is the area around trenches S IX and SX, Ali and Sam’s trenches. The former is a deep square and the latter a shallow polygon, speaking roughly. Pits, potsherd pavements, weird red layers, and two intact pots are among the star cast. Following the structures built by the past people of Birnin Lafiya is fiddly work but Sam and his team have managed to link in several doorways/surfaces with each other. Next door Ali and his team are uncovering a complex series of pits which seems to be s complicated as last year’s ‘Chinese pit’ and will offer us a valuable sequence into the site: a surprise here, though, was that there were no more pavements under the three which we’d uncovered in 2011 and 2012.


About 600 metres away, Richard has started on his second trench, on top of a mound at the extremity of the site, close to two small hills which are absolutely covered in pottery. Thus far the surprise in this trench has been the recovery of a shovel at a metre’s depth. Quite truly an archaeologist’s joke!


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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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