Steering meeting 2013

Most of last week was taken up with our yearly steering meeting or with its preparations.

Eight of the Europe-based team members gathered in Norwich to discuss two main things – on the one hand, progress so far and what that means we still need to do in the 2014 fieldwork; and on the other, plans for publications.

Generally speaking, pieces of the jigsaw are really starting to come together since we started our first, initial, foray into the Dendi past almost three years ago. Matters are certainly making more sense than they did then. In particular – and fantastic news, given our focus on the spatial patterning of material culture – we are seeing emerge a real division of ‘our’ region into distinct zones of material and technical practices. Weaving, ironworking, recent pottery techniques, surface ceramics, settlement foundation, all see a hiatus in the area around Guene. That area will form a particular focus of the 2014 work, partly through test pitting and partly through survey.

Another focus will be truing to close the five-century gap we currently have between our latest archaeological data (the radiocarbon dates keep coming in, and still don’t break past AD 1300) and the oral-historical information on settlement dates. This will, unavoidably, mean more test pits.

Finally, we have our job to finish at Birnin Lafiya and will be continuing soils sampling, excavation, geophysical survey, and if all goes well ground-penetrating-radar investigations.


As regards plans for publication it is now agreed that, as well as specialised journal articles, we are aiming to have a Crossroads volume as a Journal of African Archaeology monograph in 2016. The layout of the book is what we are discussing now, since we could organise it by theme, disciplinary specialism, or chronology.


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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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