Archive Page 2

06
Jul
17

accra, 6 july

I’m in Accra for the 15th meeting of the West African Archaeological Association. I’ve arrived earlier, looking forward to catching up with colleagues and with the hope of researching the cowries held in departmental collections. (The archaeology of Ghana has been majorly important in setting out some of the theories scholars hold about the spread of these shells into West Africa).

 

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Neither the traffic, nor the weather, are with me on this occasion, but let’s see how other things go…

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18
Jun
17

thinking about pots

Thinking about pottery again.

The Maldives pots… visit from Dr Alison G from Southampton, expert in Islamic ceramics…

Looking, also, at the Chinese connection.

But also the Crossroads pots: organising and re-visiting our chapter which presented our ceramic assemblage and assessed its similarities and divergences with  other reported assemblages from across West Africa.

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These are two completely different sets of problems. In one case, the Maldives, clay was not available and all the pottery had to be imported, and it is largely wheel-thrown. In the case of Dendi, clay was available pretty universally, and although pots certainly moved – either for their own sakes or as containers for other things – it’s likely most households had the skills and raw material they needed to make what they required.

26
May
17

more worrying news for UK research

The Royal Society reports on disciplines most dependent on EU funding. This is a new report commissioned by the UK’s four national academies (which include the British Academy: see my earlier post here). It has analysed the latest available figures (2014-2015) available from the Higher Education Statistics Authority.

It confirms what we all knew, but it is actually worse than I had realised. Natural and physical sciences and engineering dominate in absolute numbers; clinical medicine, for example, received £120 million in 2014-2015. The Royal Society remarks with typical restraint that “Given the high numbers, [such] fields may find it challenging to replace this income from other sources if the UK no longer had access to EU funds”.

Last year twenty colleagues and I wrote to Theresa May to raise some of these concerns. Never got a reply beyond a short email from her office saying they are considering the matter. I am sure they have plenty more fish to fry, of course. Various sectors will be pleading for a slice of income now that the EU source is looking like it will be turned off.

Back to the report. 68 pages long, it gives a wealth of detail about the differences across sectors and disciplines in reliance on European funding. Archaeology is particularly exposed: 38% of its research funding comes from EU government bodies. In fact archaeology warrants a box feature (page 39) discussing this. “This increasing dependency on EU funding can be in part explained by the availability of and success of UK-based archaeologists in winning competitive ERC funding, which was launched in 2007 under FP7. ERC grants are unique to the discipline because of the size of the grants (enabling sufficient funding for the salary of academics working at different career stages), the length of the grants, and the collaborative nature of the funding. The ERC grants enable collaboration and teamwork that helps advance research. For Archaeology, there are no other sources of multiannual funding of this magnitude available.”

“[The EU’s] Horizon 2020 in turn is unique, and is the only international research and innovation programme of scale anywhere in the world. Other international research programmes are orders of magnitude smaller and often more narrowly based geographically and/or thematically”. I wrote something about this a few years back. And here.  And here and here for some votes of thanks to the EU.

‘Challenging’ doesn’t begin to cover it. I might use a stronger word…

25
May
17

about the islamic archaeology in global perspective conference

Last month I visited Bahrain for a conference. You can hear short interventions by some of the conference speakers here; I am about ten minutes in.

“A recent conference in Bahrain brought together archaeology experts from over 14 countries to examine how our view of historic Islam has been distorted by the West. Sylvia Smith reports.”

 

25
May
17

norwich, 25 may

Back in Norwich where temperatures are just slightly below those of Dakar, and spending a week sorting, filing and tidying the Crossroads finds and data.

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This has also been the occasion to go through the various image folders and come up with some gems from the past.

Filming some podcasts – which you can now hear here.

Steering meeting – work and play:

Back in Benin:

A very cute pot – thanks to Giulia N for the photo.

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Also, back to work also on the project book, which we hope to have out next year.

20
May
17

dakar, 20 may

We have concluded our week in the archives of IFAN. We will be returning to Norwich richer in data and richer in cowries and will be thinking about how to write it all up.

Being here has been a great opportunity to round off my knowledge of the archaeology of Senegal – I know best the areas farther east in West Africa.

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I gave a talk to the PhD students and we discussed political boundaries and connections in medieval West Africa. Annalisa and I had lunch with Prof Ibrahim T and spoke about collections curation, underwater archaeology and Gorée Island among other things.

We say adieu to West Africa for now, until our next visit, in July for the West African Archaeological Association conference.

 

19
May
17

dakar, 19 may

Yestreday, as well as studying the Monod hoard (see below in its entirety: not just cowries but also brass bars and fragments of rope and textile bags), we went to the market to look for cowries.

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They are available for sale in the traditional medicine section of the market and retail at between 25 and 100 CFA apiece depending on their origin and potency. Some are described as being ‘fabriqués par les Chinois’ (!) and they are less effective than the older kind, which we were told are dug up from archaeological sites near Gao in Mali.




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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