Malanville, 24 January 2014

Day off for the team, which now numbers 27 people. Test pits are underway at Birnin Lafiya and another of the modern town’s satellites, the house complex is being further unveiled, a series of units across the site are exploring the build-up of the mound, we are emptying two dye pits in the former dyeing centre of Karimama (unearthing some interesting 20th century archaeology), while survey along the Alibori river is aiming to set the site within its wider regional context.

Continuing with this regional context, the flying team is about to begin its activities upriver from here, and its mission is to find sites to close the gap we have between AD 1300 and 1800. In hunting for these villages, we’re pursuing a theory that revolves around contour lines. We’ve noted for some time that sites occur on slight elevations so, now finally armed with 1:50,000 maps of the region, we are going to target our test pits based on topography, supposing that the height of the Niger river will have conditioned past settlement at various times. We also have the extensive information collected over the past 4 years by Olivier G and his team, which has identified which modern villages possess satellites which immediately preceded them.


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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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