Archive for the 'General' Category


day 7, arriving

We will now be based in Kinolhas (Dhihevi: ކިނޮޅަސް). One of its claims to fame is that ibn Battuta first landed here when he arrived in the Maldives. He writes:

When I reached there I disembarked at the island of Kannalus [Kinolhas island in Raa atoll], a beautiful island in which there are numerous mosques. I put up at the house of one of its pious inhabitants where I was received hospitably by the jurist Ali. He was an accomplished man and had sons who pursued the study of sciences. There I met a man named Muhammad, a native of Dhofar (Zafar-ul-humuz), who entertained me and told me, ‘When you enter the island Mahal [Male’], the vezir will detain you, for the people there have no judge.’

A spot of impromptu survey – trying to link the putative medieval settlement with the reported medieval harbour. It is not all fine sandy beaches in the Maldives…

But there are some of these too, of course.



Meeting our team. We will hopefully work together for 22 days and do good research.

Kinolhas is about 0.5 km2 in size and has 580 inhabitants but a third live in Male’ in search for better education and job opportunities.


day 5, utheemu

Third day working here. A Friday, but we have too much to get done to take a day off… (tomorrow being our final day on the island). Nonetheless, here is a mix of work & play images:

Excavation in the morning, finds processing in the afternoon.

Aquaerobics class!


Views of Utheemu life. Classic sunset shot. Middle: the palace; Hussein and David at breakfast. Bottom: where Shiura and I are staying.


sherd of the day


Two notable sherds of the day, in fact. Three hours ago, they were sleeping peacefully in the ground. We think they might help us understand Utheemu’s connections with other parts of the world.






Day 2, Malé

So, here we are back in the Maldives, for our second field season. Readers will remember that last year we did quite a lot of island-hopping. We visited four atolls in the context of our archaeological work, and three more as part of the ethnographic research. This year, we will stay put a little more, especially as concerns the archaeological work.

First off we will make a brief return to the island of Utheemu in the far north (it is 300km away from Malé), where we worked last year. One part of the island, where one of our trenches had uncovered a massive coral stone slab, is slated for development as a B&B (currently there are no tourist facilities on the island at all, yet it is know for its fine beaches and its historical significance – so it was probably just a matter of time). We will be going back to that trench to figure out what that slab is.


Our work began at Utheemu last year

In the second phase, we will be returning to the island of Kinolhas to try and find the medieval settlement there. We will be based several weeks there in order to get a more complete view of life in the Maldives at that time.


Day 1, Malé

This afternoon: talking to the author of a report on the etymology of the name Mulah.


Mulah (Dhivehi: މުލައް) is an island in Meemu atoll, which we visited briefly last year,  when we were based for a time on a neighbouring island.

Mulah’s full name is Boli Mulah, and Boli is the cowrie shell, so of course we were intrigued. Of the nine places with names that relate to cowries, only Mulah is an inhabited island and therefore relatively easy to visit. And ibn Battuta allegedly went there, too. Thus, last week Annalisa and Shehe returned to Mulah for a few more interviews with cowrie collectors and coir producers.

They learnt much while they were there, and were also pointed to an informant now in Malé who wrote a study of the origin of the name Mulah. He told us that the island became famous as the place for cowries because it had the right habitat for them.

Also today we went to the National Museum and carried out an inventory of our gear, after which Annalisa, David (our lucky student volunteer of the season) and I went to eat hummus and shawarma in what is billed as Malé’s first Arabic restaurant.


gender stereotyping

What I am working on today, as well as cowries: I have been invited by a Careers Adviser to talk at Sprowston High School, a local secondary school, tomorrow.

The purpose is to challenge gender stereotyping for a group of 11-12 year olds – try to get them to look beyond stereotypes they may unknowingly have.

Here are some interesting facts:

Some 22 per cent of professors – 4,415 out of 19,750 in total – were female in 2013-14 compared with just 15 per cent in 2003-04, according to a report by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The report, titled Staff in Higher Education 2013-14, which was published on 26 February, also says 45 per cent of the UK’s 194,245 academic staff are women.

A couple of anecdotes are also relevant here. There was the time when my daughter and her friend decided to impersonate a Professor: for them, this involved a long moustache, round glasses and a hunched posture. There was the time when I tried to join a swimming class online and the drop-down menu only allowed the title ‘Professor’ if you had ticked ‘Male’ as your gender. True story!

Related content: here and here.

So, anyway, here I am thinking back to 2012 which is the last time I was put in front of an audience of 11-12 year olds.





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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