Archive for the 'General' Category

17
Sep
18

conference excursions

Once the formal conference proceedings were completed we were taken on a tour of several historical and archaeological delights, both around Rabat and near Casablanca.

A trip to the Museum of History and Civilizations and to an exhibition at Bank al-Maghrib Museum, devoted to Moroccan medieval traveller ibn Battuta. No prizes of guessing what was amongst the most prized commodities he encountered – cowries, of course.

dav

Ibn Battuta’s presumed route across West Africa

 

Then off to Casablanca for a visit of several former quarries that were mainly exploited in the early 20th century when Casablanca’s port was developing and which led to the discovered of some very early human, hominin and animal remains.

dav

Above is a panel at the Sidi Abderrahmane archaeological park, outlining the region’s importance. The particular geomorphology of the region means there is a high density of Pleistocene sites.

The sequence from these various caves, which spans over 5 million years, offers data for comparison with those from other African areas where hominids appeared and it feeds into the debate on the earliest occupation of Europe.

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10
Sep
18

rabat, 10 sept

In Rabat for the 15th Congress of the PanAfrican Association.

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The overall theme is ‘Valorisation of African Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development’. We are hosted by The Sciences Faculty of Mohammed V University and the National Institute of Archaeology and Heritage Sciences in Rabat, Mohammed I University in Oujda, and Moulay Ismaïl university in Meknès. The last meeting of this association was in Johannesburg: when I wrote about it then, we were in the midst of trying to process and understand all of the data we had gleaned through Crossroads, so it does seem a while back. Great to see colleagues and friends again.

 

10
Sep
18

sept 9

During our archaeological investigations at Sultan Park in Male’ in 2016, we uncovered an octagonal metal piece with a square hole at its centre.

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We sent it to Norfolk Museums for cleaning and conservation in the hope it might be something interesting (a Chinese coin, say).

sdr

Examining the artefact and its concreted covering

The outcome is inconclusive. The object appears to be copper alloy – it’s definitely not ferrous – and it’s heavily concreted. Despite cleaning, no inscription or decoration was noted. Its sides are rather uneven, and this, together with the fact it isn’t iron, suggest to me it’s not modern, at least. We still don’t know what it is, so the next stage will be to have the composition tested.

On other news, I waved a final goodbye to the Crossroads book proofs.

 

 

02
Sep
18

summer

The last few weeks have been dominated by finalising the Crossroads volume. I’ve carried the manuscript around with me (it’s hefty) like a turtle and its shell, checking first, second, and yes, even third proofs. Out in the coming months with Brill – watch this space…

but also a visit to colleagues at the Palace Museum in Beijing to discuss Chinese pottery and coins in the Maldives and elsewhere.

 

 

19
Jun
18

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).

dav

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.

dav

sdr

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.

dav

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.

 

18
Jun
18

avlo, 12 june

Work continues… And grinds to a halt once we reach the water table.

Trench 1 in particular is very close to the river, its beach cluttered with potsherds which have eroded out of the island.

But it’s fine – we have the results we came for, which show that there is an archaeological record here that it would be well worth exploring through a bigger-scale project.

dav

The River Mono flowing past the site

15
Jun
18

avlo, 9 june

The first step involves surveying the island and its neighbours – not the easiest of tasks given the dense vegetation.

The decision is then taken, based on whether we can see archaeological material on the surface and whether there are any other notable features of the ground, about where to place our two test pits.

dav

Placing Trench 2




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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