pots but no potters

What archaeological work has been carried out on the Maldives – for example the by Carswell at the old palace in Malé or the analysis by Mikkelsen of pottery from excavations by Thor Heyerdahl’s team at Nilandu – has documented the evidence of  brown pottery decorated with incisions, thought to have been in use for a long period (and thus not that useful for dating), and apparently coming from southern India and Sri Lanka. Carswell specifically linked some of the material to pottery from a site in NW Sri Lanka, suggesting a connection between it and Malé. As he notes, Sri Lanka would be the Maldives’ nearest source of clay.

We are now seeing similar sherds in the collections of the National Museum here in Malé. They also have here intact pots of the same type though nobody knows much about them.


For his part, Ibn Battuta says a cooking pot was bartered for five or six chickens.

I was just wondering whether they ever imported clay and made the pots here.


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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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