Posts Tagged ‘pottery

18
Jun
18

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.

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The inevitable pot-washing

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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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03
Mar
18

durham

In Durham, travelling with potsherds – as usual. I am calling on Prof Derek K and Dr Ran Z to talk about the finds we excavated last year at Kinolhas in the Maldives.

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Well, our Maldivians certainly had wide-ranging connections. We already knew a bit about their Chinese imported pottery. Now, sherds which likely came from Iraq, India, Iran, and parts of South-east Asia have also been identified.

I am particularly intrigued by the so-called Martaban pottery, of which we appear to have a range of examples. The fabric is grey or pink, with a brown, black or olive glaze. We saw similar examples in resorts in the Maldives, where they are used for decorative purposes. However, this group is poorly-defined and we don’t know for a fact where these pots were made and how many different productions there were.

Durham was very scenic under a dusting of snow.

07
Feb
18

post-excavation processing

For the first time in seven years, I am not away on fieldwork in January and February – thus the blog, which thrives on scenic action scenes, has been much quieter than usual. However, things have not been quiet in Norwich. We have been working through the finds from our 2016 and 2017 field seasons in the Maldives (and doing a bit here and there on Crossroads pottery, ivory, and beads too – another story).

One strand of work concerns the pottery excavated, and the focus at present is on the earthenwares. We retrieved a great number of coarse fabric ceramics with a relatively thick body, often with channels, sharply carinated and/or with overhanging rims. These appear similar to those reported from sites along the Persian Gulf, in southeast Pakistan and along the Red Sea, so they may well be interesting in mapping our Maldivian islands’ connections with the wider world in the Islamic period.

Another major strand of work involves working through the shells that colleagues have generously let us borrow from their various excavations and surveys in West Africa. Annalisa and I are, this week, ensconced in the Yoruba world. The story of the spread of cowries through Yoruba areas is the story of two competing trade routes – northwards from the Atlantic and southwards through the Sahara. But is it also a story of two competing shell species?

 

 

 

 

03
Oct
17

back to pots from Niger

In 2003,  together with collaborators from Institut de Recherches en Sciences Humaines, I carried out some excavations on a large walled site in central Niger called Kufan Kanawa, allegedly the location of the former Kano.

 

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These weren’t always the easiest conditions as it was Harmattan season: cold and dusty. But I have just now been revisiting this, and been looking through my field notes from 2003, in much more comfortable conditions this time.

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The point of this is  to identify some potsherds which I can send to Dr Sonja M in Frankfurt, who’s been using X-ray fluorescence to study clay compositions. Different types of clay may indicate different provenances: in her previous work, on a site in central/north Niger, she showed that local ceramics were chemically distinguishable from imported pottery.  Now she is including many more regions, in order to see whether there is the potential for establishing a kind of chemical map for pottery.

Kufan Kanawa and two other sites which we studied all seem to date to the period AD 1300-1650. Curiously, there are two very distinct types of pottery: distinct in their decoration and in what substances the potters added to make the clay workable. The correlation between clay fabric and decoration is very strong and we wondered whether this pointed to functional differences in the vessels – we hypothesised that one type might have been used for carrying water. But at that time, we assumed all the clay was local. Fifteen years down the line, this might be an opportunity to test that hypothesis.

29
Aug
17

chinese pottery

A good number of our pottery finds from Kinolhas are from China or southeast Asia. As mentioned earlier we have been thinking about where these came from and we were happy, earlier this month, to receive Dr Ran Z from Durham, expert in Chinese ceramics.

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He was able to identify the likely time period and place of production of some of these sherds; a number are of the type known as Longquan celadon.

This little bowl, in the meantime, bears the annotation ‘Good Fortune’.

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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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