Archive for May, 2019


cotonou, 30 may

Our writing workshop has now been going for three days and our participants have, collectively, written over 12,000 words already – woo hoo!


Below, Abubakar and Asma’u obtained their PhDs with us at the Sainsbury Research Unit in 2013 and 2016 and they have now gone back to lectureships at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. Abubakar is with us at the workshop in his capacity as Editor of Zaria Archaeology papers. Asma’u is here to distill her thesis into a single journal article on the archaeology of the borderlands of Kanem-Borno and the Hausa cities.


In the margins of all of this I am of course also engaged in the inevitable final filing and documenting of artefacts from the Crossroads work we undertook up in the north of the country between 2011 and 2014. Below is a curved metal sheet, possibly a blade fragment that was subsequently re-used. We found it on the surface of the site of Birnin Lafiya at a time when really we knew almost nothing about that site. It was all new and exciting (and to be honest for the most part still is!).



cotonou, 27 may

First day of our writing workshop. I start with the obligatory car shot, which regular readers will recognise from previous years. Not such a big distance to cover this time though – just from one part of Cotonou to the university campus. Left-right Dr Ettien from Ivory Coast, Dr Giade from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, Dr Djidohkpin from Benin, Dr Labiyi from Benin, Barpougouni Mardjoua who is a doctoral student at Université libre de Bruxelles/Université Abomey Calavi and Dr Daraojimba from University of Nigeria Nsukka.


The formal opening with the Dean of Faculty, Pro-VC for inter-university collaboration, and the Deputy Head of the Department of History and Archaeology.  Thank you for their kind words.



cotonou, 26 may

In Cotonou again, this time to host a British Academy Writing Workshop. We have brought together a fine collection of early career researchers and journal editors to discuss the craft of writing a paper that will be accepted by an international journal. More in days to come!

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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May 2019