Site 4

Our fourth enquiry took us to the island of Veyvah. We chose this island because an inventory made of the Maldives’ stone mosques in the run-up for a World Heritage application speak of a mosque there alleged to be 400 years old, one of the few surviving coral stone mosques in the country. Also the 2011 Heritage Inventory identifies several remains of historical interest there – a cemetery, a large banyan (nikagas) and a bathing tank. Thirdly, it was clear from aerial photographs that the modern settlement was largely restricted to the northern end of the island whereas the reported heritage was at the centre and south, so we stood a good chance of finding undisturbed archaeology. Finally, Veyvah sits close to the only two channels allowing access into the atoll from the east, and its neighbour is an island which Ragupathy and Mohammed connect with cowries (based on the name).

Much vegetation here!


The mosque is a fine coral stone building

Traces of former structures everywhere, as well as many gravestones.

And potsherd scatters


The December 2004 tsunami was mentioned to us repeatedly; this atoll was very affected. We were told that on Veyvah the freshwater lense was contaminated and the remains of past structures and walls were damaged and displaced.



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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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