Posts Tagged ‘dendi

07
Jun
16

new publication

A new publication by team member Olivier G. The World Is Like a Beanstalk: Historicizing Potting Practice and Social Relations  in the Niger River Area. 

IMG_4138

My interest in the history of  local pottery traditions in the Niger Valley was recently reactivated. As part of the “Crossroads of  Empires” European Research Council project (Haour et al. 2011), I made a systematic study of craft activities  along the Beninese bank of the Niger River and identified the southern boundary of the polychrome pottery production zone, as well as some two- or three-generations-old vessels whose shape and décor strongly evoked vessels illustrated in Y. Urvoy (1955). … The time had come to reconsider the data collected in Niger between 2002 and 2010, and to confront them with those collected in Benin since 2011.

This is also the time to thank Olivier who, while in Dendi with us, supplied the archaeologists’ base camp with two polychrome jars from Ouna which kept our drinks nicely chilled.

 

 

08
Sep
15

Mungo Park’s cowries

At the British Museum today to see – in the Enlightenment Gallery – some cowries given to Mungo Park by the King of Bambara on 23 July 1796.

a_IGP9034

Mungo Park was the first known European to travel to the central part of the Niger River, reaching it at Ségou (today in Mali). When he returned home to Scotland he was greeted with great enthusiasm as people had thought him dead.

aIMGP9032

Mungo Park later embarked on a second trip to West Africa, in 1805-1806, during which he will have sailed through Dendi, perhaps past some of the towns where we have been working. He drowned in the rapids near Bussa, now in Nigeria, where there are some major rapids on the river. The whole area now lies underwater; Online Nigeria notes,

“The Kanji National Park also contains the Kainji Dam, an artificial lake which covers the town of Old Bussa. Here Mungo Park, the explorer, was said to have come to grief in 1805. Now the lake hides the scene of the accident. The lake is 136 km long and tours of the dam are available on request from the Nigeria Electric Power Authority. Boat trips on the lake can be arranged by the Borgu Game Reserve office at Wawa. To reduce the expense, it is better for several visitors to share the cost. Fishing is allowed on the lake”.

It sounds like quite a lovely place. Incidentally, the lake also covers some archaeological sites very relevant to our findings in Dendi. They include large mounds where excavations recovered grinding stones, stone beads and bracelets, iron points, hoes, jewellery, fish hooks, slag, glass crucible fragments, terracotta figurines and clay smoking pipes, as well as tens of thousands of pottery sherds and architectural structures such as granary foundations, collapsed house walls, potsherd pavements and other floors, mysterious burnt clay ditches, and burials with associated beads and jewellery. I came across publications on these sites when researching my 2007 book, and little did I know I would later be working at kind of similar sites just upriver from these.

02
Jul
15

Cambridge 1 July

Trip to Cambridge’s McDonald Institute and Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies yesterday, to talk to Dr Ronika P about the work she has been doing on some of the Crossroads material.

Ronika, a biocultural archaeologist, has a set of human remains (mainly teeth, but also some bone) from our excavations. These samples come from the two burials we uncovered during our work, but also include fragments recovered during excavation. The latter were usually mixed up with other items, such as animal bone, and weren’t identified until much after the fieldwork; typically, Veerle L found these during her lab work. Such fragments testify to graves that were disturbed long ago, through the successive occupations of the site; the working hypothesis is that the dead were buried close to the living.

Untitled

We discussed the results obtained so far, their meaning, and plans to publish them. Almost nothing is known of the past occupants of this part of West Africa, and the isotope (oxygen and nitrogen) and morphological analyses which Ronika and her colleagues are undertaking will give us some first insights into the diet and geographical origin of the peoples of Dendi.

Next week, the focus will be pottery again. David K and I will be travelling to Brussels (with a suitcase of pottery, as ever – plus a lot of papers) to meet with Ali LS and go through all our data. I’m also looking forward to meeting up with the various members of the ‘ethno-team’ based in Brussels, and we’ll talk about the progress of our book.

02
Mar
15

and otherwise

It hasn’t been sessions in dusty meeting rooms, of course.

An impromptu roadside discussion about cowrie shells and other shells

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We took the opportunity, along the Monsey Dendi to Karimama road, to take a pirogue trip along the Niger

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is the site of Tin Tin Kanza, cut by the road, and now we’re wondering whether it was ever a shell midden

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorouberi, with copious and large pieces of pottery in an erosion gully.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Three test pits were done here over 2013 and 2014 and it turns out that it is our second-oldest site. The modern settlement, just visible in the trees in far distance, was tested by Ali’s team last year and on the evidence obtained is 800 years younger than the mound in its vicinity.

We ended the day in a venue that regular readers will recognise, the bar in Karimama.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

02
Mar
15

karimama, 2 march

Today’s restitution meeting was at Birni Lafia and concerned specifically the archaeological work we’ve done over four field seasons, totalling some 20-22 weeks, at the large abandoned settlement mound at the periphery of the village.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Attendees were the men from the village who worked with us on the site over the years. Of the 52 involved, 31 were present . Seven people had left the village to travel for various reasons.

team 1 P1020357

team 2 P1020392

team 3 P1020402

Village elders were also invited

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just three other women in the room…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As has been our usual format, there were several speakers then a question and answer session.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We went over the scientific results achieved – there was a remark about the depth of finds at the mound

mound depth P1020430

A discussion on the need to preserve the sites from natural and anthropogenic degradation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Participants dispersed in the heat of the early afternoon sun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All went very well and tomorrow’s session, the final one, will be in Karimama, administrative centre for the region.

01
Mar
15

karimama, 1 march

Today’s restitution was in Monsey Dendi, 3 hours up the river from Karimama. The landscape is beautiful but the road is rough.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Over 350 people attended.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There were questions
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There was a meal for community leaders, to conclude proceedings.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tomorrow, we wil be back in Birnin Lafiya, home turf of the archaeological team, Tuesday, restitution in Karimama.

27
Feb
15

guene, 27 feb

This morning was the first of three planned ‘séances de restitution’ where we report back to the populations of Dendi what we have learnt so far about the past of the region. Olivier and his team, who had preceded us into the region, had made a lot of the arrangements already, inviting the community leaders of the region between Madekali and Kantoro to attend a session this morning in a meeting room in Guene. They even got some griots. All that was left for us to do was buy 150kg of rice, a sheep and a goat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It all went very well as the images above hopefully show. The substantial remark we had (among dozens) was that the history of Dendi should be on the curriculum in local schools. There were a lot of thank yous and kind words otherwise, going both ways.

Next is Monsey Dendi on Sunday.




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!

Please log in often, comment and/or subscribe to keep up to date with what's happening.

Blog Stats

  • 27,931 hits

Recent posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. There will be a special prize for the 50th subscriber

Join 146 other followers

Calendar

April 2017
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930