Archive for the 'General' Category

09
May
18

western indian ocean heritage workshop

As part of the workshop we will be hosting in the coming two days, Annalisa has, with the help of our students, been setting up a display showcasing some of our finds from our fieldwork in the Maldives.

There are, of course, a lot of potsherds. These include likely cooking pots from India, paddle-impressed sherds, blue and white Chinese porcelain, various types of celadon, Middle Eastern productions and fragments of mysterious transport jars from southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Ran Z has arrived early from Durham to continue looking at our Chinese material.

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03
Mar
18

centre for African art and archaeology

Some of you might not yet be aware of our Centre for African Art and Archaeology Facebook page:
CFAAA. It is buzzing with Africanist opportunities and news, and you don’t need a FB account to join.

07
Feb
18

post-excavation processing

For the first time in seven years, I am not away on fieldwork in January and February – thus the blog, which thrives on scenic action scenes, has been much quieter than usual. However, things have not been quiet in Norwich. We have been working through the finds from our 2016 and 2017 field seasons in the Maldives (and doing a bit here and there on Crossroads pottery, ivory, and beads too – another story).

One strand of work concerns the pottery excavated, and the focus at present is on the earthenwares. We retrieved a great number of coarse fabric ceramics with a relatively thick body, often with channels, sharply carinated and/or with overhanging rims. These appear similar to those reported from sites along the Persian Gulf, in southeast Pakistan and along the Red Sea, so they may well be interesting in mapping our Maldivian islands’ connections with the wider world in the Islamic period.

Another major strand of work involves working through the shells that colleagues have generously let us borrow from their various excavations and surveys in West Africa. Annalisa and I are, this week, ensconced in the Yoruba world. The story of the spread of cowries through Yoruba areas is the story of two competing trade routes – northwards from the Atlantic and southwards through the Sahara. But is it also a story of two competing shell species?

 

 

 

 

25
Nov
17

york, 25 nov

In York for this year’s African Archaeology Research Day.

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Here is the group of attendees with SRU connections: past MA and PhD students, past and present postdoctoral researchers, and Visiting Fellow.

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Reunion, too, of some members of the 2014 Crossroads field team.

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28
Oct
17

copenhagen, 28 october

Day 2 in Copenhagen. No conference trip is complete these days without a complex exchange of goods. I receive cowries from Abomey in southern Benin and return glass, metalwork and terracottas from our Crossroads work in northern Benin.

Today’s sessions span the identification of Homer’s Ithaca, Chinese bronzes, the Peruvian Andes, Cypriot pottery, Jamaica and of course Africa. My paper is the final one.

Last night we were hosted at the Carslberg Academy, once the home of Niels Bohr.

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This is the hall known as “Pompeii” and it was completed in the last quarter of the 19th century.

27
Oct
17

copenhagen, 27 october

I’m at the Crossroad Archaeology: Global Narratives of Local Encounters conference at the University of Copenhagen. It is a meeting in memory of archaeologist Klavs Randsborg, whose research included excavations, anthropological interviews and museum development in Ghana and Bénin.

03
Oct
17

back to pots from Niger

In 2003,  together with collaborators from Institut de Recherches en Sciences Humaines, I carried out some excavations on a large walled site in central Niger called Kufan Kanawa, allegedly the location of the former Kano.

 

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These weren’t always the easiest conditions as it was Harmattan season: cold and dusty. But I have just now been revisiting this, and been looking through my field notes from 2003, in much more comfortable conditions this time.

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The point of this is  to identify some potsherds which I can send to Dr Sonja M in Frankfurt, who’s been using X-ray fluorescence to study clay compositions. Different types of clay may indicate different provenances: in her previous work, on a site in central/north Niger, she showed that local ceramics were chemically distinguishable from imported pottery.  Now she is including many more regions, in order to see whether there is the potential for establishing a kind of chemical map for pottery.

Kufan Kanawa and two other sites which we studied all seem to date to the period AD 1300-1650. Curiously, there are two very distinct types of pottery: distinct in their decoration and in what substances the potters added to make the clay workable. The correlation between clay fabric and decoration is very strong and we wondered whether this pointed to functional differences in the vessels – we hypothesised that one type might have been used for carrying water. But at that time, we assumed all the clay was local. Fifteen years down the line, this might be an opportunity to test that hypothesis.




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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