Posts Tagged ‘small finds


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?






norwich, 25 may

Back in Norwich where temperatures are just slightly below those of Dakar, and spending a week sorting, filing and tidying the Crossroads finds and data.


This has also been the occasion to go through the various image folders and come up with some gems from the past.

Filming some podcasts – which you can now hear here.

Steering meeting – work and play:

Back in Benin:

A very cute pot – thanks to Giulia N for the photo.


Also, back to work also on the project book, which we hope to have out next year.



We are all set for our second session of small finds photography tomorrow. Below is a record of our initial session, mid June:



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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December 2019
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