Posts Tagged ‘maldives

12
Dec
18

cowries project

Our research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, has now formally closed. We’ve definitely learnt a lot in 3.5 years! We now have a much better idea of the role played by cowrie shells in the medieval economy. We have shown that they were important in the medieval Maldives, and that these islands offered an ideal habitat for the living animals to thrive. We demonstrated that archaeology sheds important new light on this remote archipelago’s trade connections: our excavations yielded items from China, India, Sri Lanka, Europe and central Asia. We have seen tens of thousands of cowrie shells in museums across three continents, and developed reliable criteria to differentiate the various species. Thanks to this, we can identify the shells encountered by archaeologists in West Africa, and understand much more clearly the routes by which they came into the African continent.

We have published four academic papers and two briefings for UNESCO, and been featured in several news stories. We have talked about our work to dozens of schoolchildren, university students and ambassadors. We have presented conference papers in the UK, the Maldives, France, Sweden, Tanzania, Ghana, Denmark, Canada, Turkey and Morocco. We put together a small exhibition showcasing our findings. Thanks to our project, the first ever PhD thesis has been written by a Maldivian archaeologist.

Now the hard work begins! We are writing a book outlining our findings from our excavations at the Maldivian island which the famed medieval traveller ibn Battuta described as ‘a fine island’.

 

 

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30
Nov
18

last few weeks

This has been a busy time, with the book launch for 2000 years in Dendi last Friday,

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which celebrates the book getting from this:

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to this:

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swiftly followed by African Archaeology Research Day in Cambridge.

These past weeks, and in weeks to come…: Thinking about the possibilities and ideas behind the return of museum artefacts to sub-Saharan Africa, pottery in southern Benin today, whether medieval traders acted in a manner which economists would consider rational, responding to climate change, potsherds from the medieval at Kinolhas in the Maldives, Chinese archaeology, and how cowries speak to notions of value.

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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.

09
May
18

western indian ocean heritage workshop

As part of the workshop we will be hosting in the coming two days, Annalisa has, with the help of our students, been setting up a display showcasing some of our finds from our fieldwork in the Maldives.

There are, of course, a lot of potsherds. These include likely cooking pots from India, paddle-impressed sherds, blue and white Chinese porcelain, various types of celadon, Middle Eastern productions and fragments of mysterious transport jars from southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Ran Z has arrived early from Durham to continue looking at our Chinese material.

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15
Apr
17

bahrain, 15 april

Visit of the al-Khamis mosque – allegedly Bahrain’s oldest – where excavations by our host Tim Insoll produced evidence of settlement dating from the eighth century AD, with a range of finds including pearls, a bread over, and three gold dinars of which one was minted in Kairouan (Tunisia) in the late tenth century – perhaps from West African gold?

Traditional houses and musical interlude in Muharraq, the old part of Bahrain.

A call for work on the Islamic archaeology in the Maldives – we are on it, Mehrdad and Natalie! And 2017 is Bahrain’s Year of Archaeology – yey!

Visit to the Bronze Age village of Saar, and to the multi-period site of Qala’at al-Bahrain. Four thousand years ago, three different systems of weights were being used here: local, Mesopotamian, and Indus Valley – already a globalised world.
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09
Feb
17

it’s the week-end!

We decide on a picnic on a sandbar on the reef closest to Kinolhas (just here). We go with the family and friends of Ramla (who cooks for us each day) and Moamin (he works with us at the site and also takes us places on his dinghy).

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We have a competition to see who can collect most cowries, and Annalisa wins hands down. Altogether we collect about 40.

We have tuna samosas, doughnuts and chocolate cupcakes.

Return under the near-full moon.

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07
Feb
17

setting bait for cowries

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We secured a coconut frond to the bottom of the sea using large rocks.

The aim is to test the veracity of the assertion made in the ninth century by Suleiman the Merchant, who had heard that in order to fish for cowries the people of the Maldives put fronds from a coconut tree into the water (see page 23 of Hogendorn and Johnson’s classic study of the cowrie trade – highly recommended). Only one informant here has mentioned this method to us so we are wondering whether it really existed.

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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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