Archive for the 'General' Category


The globalised world of the Middle Ages

Last few days before my public inaugural lecture. I have spent today sourcing images of ibn Battuta, Aethelred pennies and the the shells from Border Cave. It will be quite a tour!

For those of you not in Norwich, you will be able to follow the lecture here.


society of africanist archaeologists, 2

At the recent SAfA conference, the team on the Cowries: an early global commodity research project presented work within the ‘Trans-Saharan trade’ session. You can see our Powerpoint here:

HaourChristieJaufar_session 17


Society of Africanist Archaeologists

Just back from the biennial meeting of SAfA, in Toulouse. Congratulations to the organisers (in Toulouse, Geneva and Brussels) for an excellent, rich programme.


The conference was for many of us – not least for EU migrants to the UK such as myself – cast under a gloomy cloud by the Brexit vote, but despite this it was good, as ever, to catch up with colleagues and friends.

Annalisa, Shiura and I did a cowrie-focused paper in the trans-Saharan session, and Didier and I chaired a Crossroads session (here HaourNDah_session 22 is the paper).


crossroads book






Here is an interview of the Maldives’ first archaeologist. Do look out for our paper at the Society of Africanist Archaeologists meeting in Toulouse, in which we will outline the preliminary findings from our 2016 field season, and the significance to West African archaeology…



new publication

A new publication by team member Olivier G. The World Is Like a Beanstalk: Historicizing Potting Practice and Social Relations  in the Niger River Area. 


My interest in the history of  local pottery traditions in the Niger Valley was recently reactivated. As part of the “Crossroads of  Empires” European Research Council project (Haour et al. 2011), I made a systematic study of craft activities  along the Beninese bank of the Niger River and identified the southern boundary of the polychrome pottery production zone, as well as some two- or three-generations-old vessels whose shape and décor strongly evoked vessels illustrated in Y. Urvoy (1955). … The time had come to reconsider the data collected in Niger between 2002 and 2010, and to confront them with those collected in Benin since 2011.

This is also the time to thank Olivier who, while in Dendi with us, supplied the archaeologists’ base camp with two polychrome jars from Ouna which kept our drinks nicely chilled.




new publication

Our paper offering an overview of four years’ work in northern Bénin is now out in AntiquitySee some of our results and, later, read the project book where we develop and refine them.

And farewell to Florence who has helped see the book through the past eight months, and all best in the new job.

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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September 2016
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