on the footsteps of ibn Battuta

When ibn Battuta arrived in the Maldives he went ashore at Kinolhas, ‘a fine island containing many mosques‘.

It does look like the kind of place you would want to stop:


People locally have a clear idea of where the settlement might have been in ibn Battuta’s time. Unfortunately, not much remains of the built heritage. The Heritage Inventory 2011 had mentioned the existence of a shrine to a respected person known as Uthman Thakurufaan, a mosque, and two marble tombstones with fine carvings and calligraphy dated to September 1480 AD. Since marble is not available in Maldives the slabs were thought to have been brought to Maldives from abroad, perhaps from Gujurat, and the inscription likely to have been written by someone well versed in the technique overseas.

However all that remains of this is more in the realm of archaeology than of standing structures.


On to Fainu, sometimes described at ibn Battuta’s stopping place – indeed, there isn’t much between the two islands:

fainu and kinolhas

Fainu to the left, Kinolhas to the right.

Plenty of archaeology at Fainu too – we were shown around by knowledgeable members of the island Council.

Shiura working the phone – always busy setting up our next visit


And on to Inguraidhoo, which is etymologically linked to ginger – so we wondered whether it might have a trade connection, but nobody there could tell us the origin of the name. The old mosque has been replaced by a new one and coralstone rubble is everywhere.



2 Responses to “on the footsteps of ibn Battuta”

  1. 1 ach
    February 13, 2016 at 02:13

    To say hello with the hope that you are rounding your Maldives work well. Just to say thank you for sharing with us new lines of research progress in the blog of Maldives archaeology.
    Wish you and your team well in the outing.
    Best wishes, Abubakar, ABU Zaria

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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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