Posts Tagged ‘anthropology

08
Jun
18

crossroads book out soon

…well, soon-ish. The book has entered production with Brill and we’re expecting the first proofs in a couple weeks. With 33 co-authors and at 208,000 words, we hope it will be a fitting reflection of the work we put in between 2011 and 2015 in the Dendi region of northern Benin.

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In a study of archaeological sites, standing remains, oral traditions and craft industries, 2000 Years in Dendi, northern Benin: archaeology, history and memory offers the first account of West African region often described as a crossroads of medieval empires.

 

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11
May
18

norwich 11 may

Over the past two days, we have been hosting colleagues for a workshop on the Western Indian Ocean. It’s been very exciting to hear papers ranging from Madagascar to the Maldives via Tanzania, Ethiopia, Iran and Mauritius.

We’ve been thinking about how communities from around the Western Indian Ocean lived and connected between 1500 and 200 years ago.

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With a strong representation from the Maldives, both scholarly and diplomatic.

Framed by a dinner in the evening sunshine.

There is more on Twitter.

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.

27
Apr
16

aarhus, 26 april

I have been visiting the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions, an archaeological research group which aims to compare the archaeology of urbanism from medieval Northern Europe to the Ancient Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean World. Integral to doing this is the use of various techniques (isotopes, XRF, statistical analyses of radiocarbon dates) which can allow a greater precision in chronologies but also determine the origin of objects.

It’s all about context, context, context.

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I was speaking about our Crossroads work and the five-phase chronology developed to characterise our sites – underpinned by 120 radiocarbon dates but ultimately based on pottery styles and on small finds such as glass bracelets or cowries.

I was taken on a visit to the Moesgård Museum, with its very high-tech coverage of the archaeology of Bronze, Iron and Viking Age northern Europe as well as displays charting the evolution of the human species.

I was interested to learn that the Queen of Denmark is also an archaeologist.

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I was taken on a great tour of the places of Viking and medieval significance in Aarhus – former city walls, two cathedrals of which one was outside the walls, locations of former excavations. Aarhus will be European Capital of Culture next year.

At the seminar, and dinner afterwards, we talked about… network theory, the relations between trans-Saharan traders and their host communities, elite items or not at Birnin Lafiya, cowries and the Merovingian trade, PhD and postdoctoral funding opportunities, the value of having anthropologists on the team to keep archaeologists in check, ERC videoconference interviews, and ways of advancing capital over long distances.

Back to Norwich now, and on the plane will be thinking about trust in the global Middle Ages.

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10
Feb
15

fieldwork – two weeks to go

Just back from a stimulating visit to the British Institute in Eastern Africa, I turn now to plans from the other side of the continent. Only two weeks to go before I am back in Benin. This year’s fieldwork will be quite different from previous years: it will involve a smaller team, and its aims, at least in terms of my part in it, are quite distinct from the research-based ones we had in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. They are twofold:

Pass through the villages in which we worked and explain what our research uncovered. To this end we plan a series of public events in Dendi.

Outline the project activities and findings to the scientific community in Benin. To this end we plan a three-day workshop at the Universite d’Abomey Calavi.

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14
Oct
14

Steering meeting 2014

Last week, 13 of the Europe-based Crossroads team members gathered in Norwich for the yearly project meeting. We heard four powerpoints, and most participants had submitted papers beforehand, and the major focus was on discussion. In particular, we had a list of twenty questions to chew over. Below are a few… We are now thinking quite concretely about the project book which will come out of our five-year collaboration, and which we aim to publish in 2016 with the Journal of African Archaeology Monograph Series.

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In archaeology, there has been an increasing awareness of the importance of global history and global connections, and an increasing concern with the movement of practices rather than just objects (Arguably, developments driven by history and anthropology). How optimistic can we be about the chances of recovering practices through the material from Birnin Lafiya and other sites sampled by the team?

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Does the nature of the subsurface evidence (stratigraphy, geophysics) offer us any clues about whether the entirety of Birnin Lafiya was occupied at one time?

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Are there apparent ruptures in the occupation or creation of the settlements between the 4th and 14th centuries? Is there an evolution in settlement strategies ? In food practices? (What was the ratio of fish and game in diets throughout time?)

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What can we say about the ecological evolution of the area during the last two millenia ? Is there evidence of flooding or drought episodes ? Do historical studies carried out in adjacent and more remote regions point toward ‘natural disasters’?

30
Oct
13

African Archaeology Research Day 2013

After seven months of planning, we are just two days away from African Archaeology Research Days 2013, the yearly gathering of Africanists in the UK, which this year will be held at UEA. 

We have about 110 registered participants. We will have a couple of keynote papers, plenary session papers which will deal with Kenya, Tanzania, Benin, Mali, Senegal, Libya, the Sahara as a whole, the UK, Sudan, and the Western Sahara. Focus discussion groups dealing with archaeology and development, museum collections, the Indian Ocean system, and ritual in archaeology will consider those and other parts of the continent and bring the plenary session participants up to date with burning thematic developments in the field. 

The fun starts at 9.15 Friday.




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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