london, october 2015

At UCL today talking archaeobotany with Louis C and his PhD supervisor Dorian F.

In the course of his participation in the Crossroads fieldwork, Louis took samples from 12 sites and 28 test pits and he has been looking for pieces of charred plants within them; see a report by Sam here. Below, sampling trench IV at Birnin Lafiya in February 2012.


Now all these samples are being examined in lab conditions here in the UK. Louis is looking at changes in the archaeobotanical remains across time, seeking to characterise what people grew and to identify shifts in the plant assemblages. Today we talked about maize, bananas, sorghum, shea butter nut, wild grasses, millet, tomatoes and mangoes. Each of these likely entered this part of Benin at a different time.


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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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