Posts Tagged ‘cultural heritage

16
Jun
19

kinolhas, 16 june

We left the capital of Maldives, Male’, on Thursday morning on a dawn speedboat – the early departure was meant to avoid the rougher seas, and it seems to have paid off.

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This year’s work is led by Shiura, and it has two main purposes. The first is to discuss with local communities how keen they would be – given all the other competing priorities and risks in their daily lives – to develop cultural tourism on the island, which would build on their fame as the place ibn Battuta visited in the 1340s. The second is to excavate again on the site we studied in 2016 and 2017, to obtain a good-sized sample of potsherds which Shiura can then analyse as prime evidence for the past connections maintained by the Maldives.

The meeting with the island council leaders goes well – they are as supportive as last time, and have identified a team of people who’d like to work with us.

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A first visit to the site allows us to scope and identify the best location to place the trench – which as any archaeologist knows is always quite a nerve-racking guessing game.

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We last visited Kinolhas in 2017. And everyone says hi, Annalisa and David!

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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.

 

31
Mar
19

norwich, still in europe, 31 march

Though this blog has been quiet for the past few months, hopefully you have caught us on Twitter. We’ve certainly been busy – 2019 started at a fast pace and continued the same way.  Excellent workshops in Cambridge and here in Norwich with colleagues in International Development and at the Earlham Institute.

Continuing sorting through the materials relating to the cowrie project, and continually finding lovely new examples to feed into teaching. To the left here is a Kuba drinking cup. Jan Vansina, in his book Children of Woot, notes that among the Kuba rare objects that came from afar were, as is the case in many societies, the goods that counted most. The habit of showering cowries into graves was one clear instance of conspicuous consumption.

Our Centre for African Art and Archaeology series continued to receive wonderful speakers: CFAAA Spring 2019

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Other colleagues visited to chat about pottery and bone

And then of course the overarching issue of the day.

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.

11
Jul
17

accra, 11 july

Busy but productive times here at the University of Ghana.

 

Attending talks. Here, insights into the disastrous effect of jihadi occupation on the heritage and tourist industry in Timbuktu, and in Mali more generally. Malian colleagues outlined the work done to investigate, study and repair the mosque and mausolea torn down in 2012.

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Catching up with friends and colleagues; trading books, cowries and pots.

 

 

And still scouring the storerooms for shells!

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07
Oct
15

british museum, london

Fiona S and I spent a happy day in the British Museum storerooms as part of our cowrie-related work. Fiona was leading this particular visit, having selected objects from Ghana – many of them Asante – which feature cowrie shells.

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We went through the objects, carefully documenting how the cowries had been used – whether they were pierced, strung, sewn, threaded… – and what other objects they were associated with.

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We also tried wherever possible to determine whether they were cypraea moneta or cypraea annulus. This is important because some have argued that moneta was the first cowrie into Ghana, brought along trans-Saharan routes, while annulus was brought in after AD 1800, with the opening of European trade with East Africa. This is one of the hypotheses that we are testing. In terms of Fiona’s work specifically, she is interested in seeing whether certain types of cowrie were selected to use in certain objects, and why.

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The objects we saw covered a range of periods, some as old as 1850 AD. Many were ritual or protective objects, that is to say commissioned by people to solve particular problems they were having, or used in ceremonies.

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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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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