Posts Tagged ‘pottery


kinolhas, 26 june

A few last walks on Kinolhas before boarding the speedboat.

Quick look back at the archaeology we investigated in 2017.

Left image: the tall light green tree on the left is a bodhi tree, identified by locals as marking a former Buddhist site. (The Bodhi tree (Sanskrit: बोधि), was a large and ancient sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa) at Bodh Gaya under which Buddha obtained enlightenment). On this image, it is guarded by a thicket of screwpines (kashikeo) which are quite impassable when they gang up on you (but you can make cakes and juice from its fruits), and a sea almond tree (Terminalia catappa) (the nuts make great cakes).

Right image: the sandstone structures we cleaned and measured are now covered by leaves and soil again – the safest way for them to be – sitting quite nicely.



These are some cowries collected on the shore. These larger species typically live a bit deeper than annulus and moneta, so are less available to the casual collector. These guys on the left are, I think, tiger cowries.

An invitation to tea, and excited children as the coast guards pay a visit.

And finally, the obligatory sunset shot. I am now off to Male’, and Shiura remains on Kinolhas to continue her work on the pottery of ibn Battuta’s island.



goodbye kinolhas

As my stay at Kinolhas draws to an end, Shiura and I are treated to a coconut drink, very refreshing in this heat. They set us up some shade in Shiura’s trench!

There is a gift giving ceremony on the beach


And we then go off to number and pack up close to one thousand potsherds, which are coming back to the UK on a temporary export permit, to be studied.




kinolhas, 22 june

It has rained for a while most days, but luckily this has not slowed down Shiura’s team too much.


Once the topsoil was cleared, it was time to set up the sieving station – some discussion about the most effective way to install its frame.


Once the topsoil clear, with the start of the archaeological layer, the pots began to turn up!




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.


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.


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.


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




avlo, 11 june

We’ve chosen two spots for our trenches. One is supervised by Nestor and the other by Imogen.

The trenches are 1×2 m in size and the going is relatively easy at first, getting more difficult as we get down to about 60cm depth and the soil turns very clayey and wet.

The finds are just what we had hoped for: lots of pottery (local and mainly rouletted), smoking pipes, cowries, glass fragments, beads, shells, and scraps of metal in poor shape.


The inevitable pot-washing


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.


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

Framed by a dinner in the evening sunshine.

There is more on Twitter.


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.


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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