Archive for June 19th, 2018


other things

It wasn’t all about excavating. While on the coastline between Grand Popo and Cotonou, we also took the opportunity to…

Be interviewed by local ecotourism operator Eco-Benin about the results of our work, future prospects and the interlinking of heritage and tourism. You can read the result here (en français).


Make a visit to Ouidah, with one of the students, Jules, a trained guide, as a shepherd. Ouidah is known as a centre for vaudou and also for the involvement of its people in the transatlantic slave trade. The Door of No Return commemorates this.



After this visit we spent some time answering a questionnaire left near the site by a PhD student whose thesis concerns tourism and heritage in Ouidah. We were asked our impressions of Benin’s fledgling tourism and hospitality sector, right down to the names of the dishes we most enjoyed eating.


On the island where we were excavating, we spent some time asking about cowrie shells, and specifically notions people had of the various species, including those native to the West African coast.



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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June 2018
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