02
Feb
16

and finally

Our last job on this island was to investigate the palace, in which cowrie hoards have been recovered in the past. Thousands of them:

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We decided to target the area just in front of the main door. Previous hoards had been recovered in a similar location – liminality, and all that.

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We found a fair few cowries (kudi boli) and pottery. No cowrie hoard… but charcoal, which we’ll have dated, and then we hope to come back next year.

There is one final thing to report from this island, something which we did find very thrilling. We encountered our first live cowrie when our hostess (who used to fish for cowries in the 1980s) took us hunting for them on this scenic shoreline.

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Much to our surprise though, they look pretty much the same alive as they do dead!

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Heading home at the end of a long day

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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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