day 8, kinolhas

The day begins with a meeting with the local councillors. The purpose is to explain our aims and we have a lenghty set of discussions on historical mosques, cowries and the medieval maritime trade.


Another important aspect of the discussion is to clarify that we are here working on behalf of the Maldives Department of Heritage, and won’t be absconding with gold or ibn Battuta’s bones. The project is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding and by the University of East Anglia’s ethics code.

The Council are very supportive, keen for us to find something, and will issue a statement to the island’s residents.


Then back to survey. The western part of the island is largely occupied by kitchen gardens (watermelons, chillies…) and by forest. Where people have dug to cultivate, sherds litter the surface. What we are looking for in searching for a place to excavate is an area which has not been disturbed in living memory but also – for practical reasons – is not too densely vegetated.

For the next three days, then, we will be searching for this magical combination. We do this by asking the locals about the use of the land, and by testing the soil at regular intervals (to this effect we spent a while hacking through spiky trees and grass bearing compass and tape measure).


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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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