Archive for the 'General' Category



This week I travelled down to London to show archaeologist & metallurgist Prof Marcos M-T a small pot and metal pendant which we uncovered in Kinolhas: see here, where I mention the recovery of a small cache of cowrie shells. The cache also included this small pot, a pendant and several glass beads.


Using the fantastic facilities of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology we subjected the various artefacts to x-ray fluorescence analysis – which determines the elemental composition of materials – and looked at them using a scanning electron microscope, which gave us a lot more information on the way that they were made.

One of the recurring questions in the archaeology of the Maldives is – how was the object made and how did the maker obtain the necessary raw materials? These questions are recurring ones in archaeology, but particularly significant in the context of the Maldives: a small land mass with very limited clay/mineral resources, and over 300km from the nearest land mass.





three and a half weeks back

After the fieldwork, comes the post-excavation work. My network and I have not been idle: the slag has gone to France, the plant remains to Australia and the charcoal to London. We wait to see what all these objects can tell us…

The pottery will be examined in Norwich by Shiura and I, but we will definitely need help on some of the sherds, given their variety.

The shells and bone will also be examined here in Norwich, by Annalisa.


day 31

In order to tie our seven trenches into the wider landscape, we go surveying and make a record of any stone features we encounter.

A square stone on its own and the floorplan of what looks like a house!

A large scale wall and a possible well .

All this is also an opportunity to learn more about the vegetation. Above right, the feature which we interpret as a well was shrouded by a thick cover of dhigga (Hibiscus tiliaceus). Screwpine trees (Pandanus tectorus) seem to appreciate archaeological features; they are often comfortably settled over ruined stone structures.

Elsewhere on the site… work is clearly coming to an end.


On an unrelated note, but something I really had to mention. We have been eating very well. Including screwpine cake..!



day 28, kinolhas

A busy morning digging… but also backfilling, as we are nearing the end of the season.

There is a family from Kerala living on the island, and we take the opportunity of their walking past our pot-processing area to show them some of our material. Judging by its decoration, the tamper marks on the inner surface of the sherds, and comparable material from other published sites, some of our stuff appears to be from southern India and perhaps Kerala specifically. So we asked them if it looked familiar.


Ramla brings lunch onto site and we have a picnic.

Drone’s eye view of our site: Trench 631 bottom left.



day 25

Another busy day to close off the week.

An experimental flight of the drone lent to us gives us a new view of our area of investigation.


Trench 325 is the white square near top right of the image – it is 2×2 m in size. Smaller white blotches (e.g. the three running in a diagonal line) are our shovel test pits.

A team of five has been occupied finding, and marking with stakes, all the stone structures in the area. Next week we will take their GPS points and fill out survey sheets.

Still working on Trench 631. Annalisa completes the huge job that was planning the stone structures.


I do an honest morning’s digging, which is good for the soul.


Whizzing through washing of pots, pottery desampling and sampling (ie. recording and eliminating those which are too small or are undecorated), and measuring shell.



it’s the week-end!

We decide on a picnic on a sandbar on the reef closest to Kinolhas (just here). We go with the family and friends of Ramla (who cooks for us each day) and Moamin (he works with us at the site and also takes us places on his dinghy).


We have a competition to see who can collect most cowries, and Annalisa wins hands down. Altogether we collect about 40.

We have tuna samosas, doughnuts and chocolate cupcakes.

Return under the near-full moon.



days 23 and 24, kinolhas

First to start off with the excitement of today: the Male’ ferry arrived a short while ago with a drone that is being lent to us (see here to find out how we discovered its existence), and the ingredients for the cheesecake which David wants to make on Friday.


More widely though, these have been a busy few days.

Visit by members of the island council


Recovery of a small cache of cowrie shells


Visit by a school group



Lots more stone, lots more pot



Lunchbreak swim in the medieval harbour


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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