Archive for the 'News' Category

30
Jun
19

kinolhas, 26 june

A few last walks on Kinolhas before boarding the speedboat.

Quick look back at the archaeology we investigated in 2017.

Left image: the tall light green tree on the left is a bodhi tree, identified by locals as marking a former Buddhist site. (The Bodhi tree (Sanskrit: बोधि), was a large and ancient sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa) at Bodh Gaya under which Buddha obtained enlightenment). On this image, it is guarded by a thicket of screwpines (kashikeo) which are quite impassable when they gang up on you (but you can make cakes and juice from its fruits), and a sea almond tree (Terminalia catappa) (the nuts make great cakes).

Right image: the sandstone structures we cleaned and measured are now covered by leaves and soil again – the safest way for them to be – sitting quite nicely.

 

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These are some cowries collected on the shore. These larger species typically live a bit deeper than annulus and moneta, so are less available to the casual collector. These guys on the left are, I think, tiger cowries.

An invitation to tea, and excited children as the coast guards pay a visit.

And finally, the obligatory sunset shot. I am now off to Male’, and Shiura remains on Kinolhas to continue her work on the pottery of ibn Battuta’s island.

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30
Jun
19

goodbye kinolhas

As my stay at Kinolhas draws to an end, Shiura and I are treated to a coconut drink, very refreshing in this heat. They set us up some shade in Shiura’s trench!

There is a gift giving ceremony on the beach

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And we then go off to number and pack up close to one thousand potsherds, which are coming back to the UK on a temporary export permit, to be studied.

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25
Jun
19

where next?

 

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After a week’s work, the 10x10m trench is down to about 30cm.

Sterile ground – that is, the end of the archaeological materials – has been reached in some parts of the trench. West Africanists, I know, right! Many of us are more used to reaching sterile at 3m rather than 0.3m!

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With hermit crab tracks.

The question therefore now is where to excavate next? Shiura and I have been noticing potential locations.

In summer 1974 John Carswell observed that the streets of Malé were surfaced with finely packed coral sand studded with pottery sherds; “each monsoon shower revealed a new crop”. Same here… Main street in Kinolhas:

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24
Jun
19

kinolhas, 24 june

The analysis of the pottery has begun.

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At the same time, we continue to learn about the island – its layout, resources, and outlook.

On the south shore, low tide exposes the sandstone which could be mined in the past to build things.

Kinolhas has many neighbours, and the islands are intervisible. On the left is Fainu, its neighbour to the north. On the right, can you spot at least three islands? Blog followers based in Kinolhas, you no doubt can name them.

Raa atoll – where we are – is in the midst of a major development of tourism (foreshadowed here). Many of the previously uninhabited islands are being developed as resorts and many of the inhabited islands are launching into the guesthouse business.

Back to sandstone: one of the things you can build with it is a well. Which is fine, but that means unfortunate archaeologists then have to map it!

12
Jun
19

male’, 12 June

A day of catching up in the capital of Maldives. Lunch with Dr Shazla, Dean at Maldives National University, Mauroof Jameel, and Shiura. We talked about surveys of traditional house forms, cowries on banknotes, nitrogen pollution, mangas, yams and coral mining among other things.

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In the Twittersphere, Shiura seems to be welcomed back with open arms. There’s definitely a lot to be done here in the Maldives. Here’s a chance to say a virtual hello to colleagues in Oxford and London whose research is underway on the archipelago. And plenty (again, on Twitter) by local stakeholders on a number of recent archaeological discoveries made during the development of new resorts. Some of these we hope to visit in coming weeks.

There’s a new section in the National Museum which highlights recent traditional crafts – primarily basketry and woodworking, but there is also a section on pottery storage jars by which we were quite enthralled. All pots had to be imported to this clay-less archipelago so I am assuming they were brought both for their own sake and as containers for something else…? Something to figure out through the material from Kinolhas.

 

11
Jun
19

male’, 11 june 2019

Happy to be in Maldives once again! This is my fourth visit to Male’ and the place certainly does not stand still. You can now drive from the airport to the city, for a start, thanks to a new bridge. The PM of India was here last week. And it’s a busy time for culture too, with renewed calls to preserve Maldivian heritage both tangible and intangible.

Before leaving Norwich I made the obligatory stop to buy fieldwork supplies, and this time I travel not with potsherds but with several kilos of cowries (which caused me to be stopped by Customs). These are part of the hoard recovered by locals in Utheemu as they built a football field which we later studied (the cowries of course, not the football field). I’m also travelling with some of the pottery, metal and clay finds from Kinolhas. These are all returning to the Maldives after being on temporary loan to us in the UK.

 

 

 

27
May
19

cotonou, 27 may

First day of our writing workshop. I start with the obligatory car shot, which regular readers will recognise from previous years. Not such a big distance to cover this time though – just from one part of Cotonou to the university campus. Left-right Dr Ettien from Ivory Coast, Dr Giade from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, Dr Djidohkpin from Benin, Dr Labiyi from Benin, Barpougouni Mardjoua who is a doctoral student at Université libre de Bruxelles/Université Abomey Calavi and Dr Daraojimba from University of Nigeria Nsukka.

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The formal opening with the Dean of Faculty, Pro-VC for inter-university collaboration, and the Deputy Head of the Department of History and Archaeology.  Thank you for their kind words.

 




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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