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Figures

1.1 Where it all started. The team headquarters in Karimama, 2011 2

1.2 Location of the sites of memory discussed in this chapter (triangles), present-day villages (filled circles), and abandoned settlements (empty circles) 7

6.1 Geomorphology of the Dendi region 32

6.2 Lateritic hills seen at a distance 33

6.3 Key geological features 34

6.4 Mean monthly rainfall, days with rain and associated Niger river discharge rate for the study region 36

6.5 Erosional cuvettes formed along the Alibori 38

6.6 Schema of the soil catena established across the Niger valley at Birnin Lafiya showing the major soil types, their relative location, the underlying geology, and the associated geomorphological landforms 39

7.1 Sites identified during the 2013 survey 44

7.2 Niger River Valley study area 45

7.3 Université Abomey Calavi student Abass Diallo measuring a 10 m2 collection unit in the centre of an archaeological site 46

7.4 A 10 m2 collection unit after collection of all pottery sherds 47

7.5 Size of sites in the Alibori region 48

7.6 Size of sites in the Sota region 49

9.1 Map of Birni Lafia and surroundings, including tombo 59

9.2 Ruins of a circular house (2014) 59

9.3 Various aspects of the landscape 60

9.4 Cartography methodology 61

9.5 Map of Birni Lafia 62

9.6 Development of Birni Lafia 63

9.7 Remains of the birni inside the urban fabric 63

9.8a Most of the squares in Birni Lafia are related to the mosque 65

9.8b Various aspects of open spaces 66

9.9 Courtyard (2013) 66

9.10a Examples of compounds surveyed in Birni Lafia 67

9.10b Axonometric view of the eastern part of Birni Lafia 68

9.11 Typology table of regular and some singular buildings surveyed in Birni Lafia 69

9.12 Types of granaries 69

9.13 Using debris and foundations to build a new house (2013) 69

9.14 Evolution of the village since 1960 70

9.15 A granary built of banco, Tomboutou (2016) 71

9.16 Geometric patterns made by hand (2013) 71

9.17 Tools and materials used for the creation of a pavement 71

10.1 A woman from Karimama showing how cotton ginning used to be done 75

10.2 A woman from Birni Lafia, who still spins from time to time, showing her tools and bobbins 76

10.3 Tanda at work, weaving a strip of cloth 81

10.4 The completed blanket 81

11.1 2011 survey: On Transect 4, on a plateau near Dangazuri 86

11.2 The mound of Birnin Lafiya 87

11.3 Mound located during survey along Transect 6, west of Kompa 88

11.4 Sieving, Birnin Lafiya, January 2012 89

11.5 Geophysics survey underway at Birnin Lafiya, January 2012 90

13.1 Greyscale magnetic plan of Birnin Lafiya 97

13.2 Topographic map of Birnin Lafiya and geophysical plot superimposed 98

13.3 Interpretation of the greyscale magnetic plan of Birnin Lafiya 99

13.4 Circular or near-circular arrangements of magnetic anomalies corresponding to buried archaeological features, most probably pits 101

14.1 Birnin Lafiya. Digital elevation model showing potsherd pavement locations 107

14.2 Pavement with decorated potsherds 108

14.3 Pavement which includes perforated sherds 108

14.4 Pavement in which the sherds used are without decorations 109

14.5 Pavement combining decorated and undecorated sherds 109

14.6 Pounded laterite floor 110

14.7 Dismantled pavement 110

15.1 Investigation and cleaning of eroded potsherd pavements revealed on the Birnin Lafiya site surface 112

15.2 Local women sweeping up potsherds from the surface of the site to be crushed for use in contemporary house floor construction 114

15.3 Area of Birnin Lafiya Trench 3/10 building before excavation 114

15.4 Cleaning part of the Trench 3/10 building, 2012 115

15.5 Overview of the Birnin Lafiya architectural complex recorded in Trench 3/10, 2013 115

15.6 Plan of Unit 3/10 structural complex with mud walls and potsherd and laterite pavements, excavated in Unit 10 116

15.7 Looking across a portion of the excavated Trench 3/10 house 116

15.8 Close up views of potsherd and lateritic pebble paved surfaces 117

15.9 Features excavated within the Trench 3/10 building complex 117

15.10 Corridor leading off from large potsherd-paved space abutting Room 1 in Trench 3/10 118

15.11 Elevated view of Trench 3/10 Room 2 and surrounds 118

15.12 Trench 3/10 Room 1 from above, showing child burial 119

15.13 Exploratory trench revealing intact potsherd-paved surface underlying the principal building phase 121

15.14 Potsherd-paved surface with associated traces of fired mud structural remains and crushed pots 122

15.15 Fragments of fired clay excavated from Trench 3/10 apparently bearing impressions of wood structural remains 123

15.16 East profile of TTK Unit 1 showing multiple layers of paved surfaces in the section wall 125

15.17 Pavement uncovered in TTK Trench 1 126

15.18 Small circular architectural space in TTK Trench 2 with white floor 126

15.19 Section of curvilinear mud walls associated with potsherd pavements, recorded in TTK Trench 2 127

17.1 On-site ‘desampling’ of pottery. Birni Lafia, January 2014 140

17.2 Classification of potsherds underway. Norwich, September 2014 142

17.3a Simple rims and bases 145

17.3b Thickened rims 1 to 11 146

17.3c Thickened rims 12 to 19 147

17.3d Thickened rims 20 to 27 148

17.3e Everted rims 1 to 11 149

17.3f Everted rims 12 to 20 150

17.3g Everted rims 21 to 32 151

17.3h Everted rims 33 to 39 152

17.3i Everted rims 40 to 47 153

17.3j Everted rims 48 to 51 154

17.3k Carinated rims and body sherds 155

17.4 Key to the representation of decoration types 160

17.4a Typology of Incised Geometric decorations (is-geo)-1 to 16

17.4b Typology of Incised Geometric decorations (is-geo)-17 to 28

17.4c Typology of Incised Geometric decorations (is-geo)-29 to 38

18.1 Localisation of the five smelting traditions 175

18.2 Profile of the “footed bowl with no base” slag (KMK13-1-AB) showing the position of the thin sections 180

18.3 Plan and sections of Furnace 14 at Kompa Moussekoubou 181

18.4 Topographical plan of Kompa Moussekoubou iron production remains 183

18.5 Topographical plan of Kantoro iron production remains and settlement 184

18.6 Slag block with entrapped tuyère fragments at CRB 23 185

18.7 Reconstitution of the furnace with large cylindrical slag block at the site of CRB 36 186

18.8 Photomicrograph (reflected light) of CRB 54 slag (MMS-13-1) 186

18.9 Several cylindrical slag blocks with concentric wrinkles and central depression on the upper surface at CRB 35-2 188

18.10 View of work ongoing at the site of Tomboutou 2 189

18.11 Topographical plan of Toumboutou 2 iron production remains 190

18.12 Plan and sections of Furnace 10 at Tomboutou 2 191

19.1 Representative examples from test pits in modern Dendi villages of Bogo Bogo (GOG), Karimama (KAR), Kwara zeno (KAZ), and Kargui (KGI) 194

19.2 Representative examples of metal finds from Birnin Lafiya 196

19.3 Two blades: one from Tin Tin Kanza and one from Birnin Lafiya 197

19.4 Possible hoe from Birnin Lafiya Trench 11 197

19.5 Slag types from the assemblage 198

20.1 Beads and pendants 200

21.1 Differences in teeth morphology and shape on C. annulus and C. moneta 205

21.2 Shell measurements taken on intact specimens 206

21.3 Morphology of a cowrie shell 207

21.4 M. annulus with linear incision 209

21.5 M. annulus with circular groove 209

22.1 SF 2014-19 212

22.2 2014-31 213

22.3 2013-203 213

22.4 SF 2012-149 213

22.5 SF 2013-96 214

23.1 Archaeobotanical work in progress 217

23.2 Summary of the number of samples collected in North Benin 226

23.3 Examples of archaeobotanical specimens 226

23.4 Examples of archaeobotanical specimens 227

23.5 Patterns in the occupation of sites with archaeobotanical evidence in Dendi 231

24.1 Wood charcoal at Birnin Lafiya, without Trenches 3 and 10 236

24.2 Wood charcoal at Birnin Lafiya, Trenches 3 and 10 236

25.1 Proportions of numbers of identified remains by group of animals 251

25.2 Proportions of numbers of fish grouped by major habitat type 252

26.1 Nestor Labiyi excavating Birnin Lafiya Unit 16 255

26.2 Birnin Lafiya Unit 16 child burial, detailing dental development 273

26.3 Fragment of a right frontal bone 273

26.4 Deciduous right mandibular canine tooth exhibiting antemortem tooth wear 276

26.5 Fragmented right radius of a perinate exhibiting periosteal woven bone deposition on the proximal aspect 276

26.6–9 Right and left permanent central and lateral maxillary incisors, lingual view, featuring non-metric traits 278

A26.1 Visual inventory of Pekinga BAOBAB 2 (Spit 3: 60–80cm) mandible 275

A26.2 Visual inventory of Pekinga BAOBAB 2 (Spit 3: 60–80cm) dentition 275

Tables

6.1 Quaternary alluvial terrace chronology of the Niger valley 36

7.1 Decoration of body and rim sherds found during Niger valley Survey project 47

13.1 Range of the seven high-amplitude anomalies detected by magnetometry on Birnin Lafiya 100

14.1 Pavement recording codes and their meanings 104

14.2 Codes of structures and their geographical coordinates 104

17.1 Trenches analysed, sorted geographically 141

17.2 Rim groups defined during the pottery analysis 143

17.3 Decoration codes used during analysis 156

18.1 Summary table of the principal characteristics of the five metallurgical traditions distinguished in Dendi country 178

18.2 Dates for Kompa Dune, Kompa Moussekoubou, Kouboukoukourou, Kantoro and Tomboutou 2 excavations 182

19.1 Occurrence of different categories of metal find 195

21.1 Sites from which cowries were evaluated 205

21.2 Summary of visual factors used to determine species 206

21.3 Cowrie fragment classification coding 206

21.4 Species determination and context 208

22.1 Classification of terracotta small finds 211

23.1 Number of samples collected 216

23.2 Raw quantitative archaeobotanical evidence from the Dendi region, Benin 218

24.1 Wood charcoal at Tin Tin Kanza, Gorouberi, Kompa Dune and Kompa Moussekoubou (furnace), absolute numbers 237

25.1 List of identified animal taxa by site and phase (Numbers of identified specimens) 242

26.1 Inventory of human skeletal remains and associated material derived from the Crossroads of Empires Project 257

Catalogue Figures

A.1 Overall scene 308

A.2 Pavement (Context 5) 308

A.3 East section approaching completion 309

A.4 Pekinga east section at completion 309

B.1 Site under excavation 317

B.2 TTO-14-SIII, East section 317

C.1 Site overview. The Kompa Dune site is in the foreground, Kompa Moussekoubou at the foot of the hill in the background 325

C.2 North section at completion 326

C.3 Trench at completion, showing north section 327

D.1 Site under excavation 333

D.2 TRO-14-SI, West section 334

E.1 PTI-14-SI, North section 337

F.1 Site location 340

F.2 At 100BD: Pavements 7 (to north) and 6 (to south) and hearth associated with Pavement 7 341

F.3 West section at completion 342

F.4 North section at completion 343

F.5 East section at completion 344

F.6 South section at completion 345

F.7 North section at completion 346

F.8 Working shot at initial stages of excavation 356

F.9 West section of unit at completion 356

F.10 One of the authors (NK) exposing Context 13 357

F.11 West section of trench 358

G.1 Site under excavation 360

G.2 BOY-14-SI, West section at completion 360

G.3 BOY-14-SII, North section at completion 361

G.4 BOY-14-SI, South section 361

G.5 BOY-14-SII, North section 362

H.1 Site under excavation 367

H.2 GOG-14-SI, West section at completion 367

H.3 GOG-14-SI, West section 368

I.1 Site under excavation 374

I.2 KAZ-14-SI, West section at completion 374

I.3 KAZ-14-SII, West section at completion 375

I.4 KAZ-14-SII, West section 375

J.1 Atmosphere shot 380

J.2 South section at completion 380

J.3 Inside of Feature 3 381

J.4 Feature 5 381

J.5 Sections at completion 382

K.1 Site under excavation 391

K.2 GOB-14-SI, West section at completion 392

K.3 GOB-14-SI, West section 392

L.1 Site under excavation 396

L.2 KAR-14-SI, West section at completion 396

L.3 KAR-14-SI, West section 397

M.1 Kusulabu site view 400

M.2 Pavement recorded in KUS-14-SII 400

M.3 Kusulabu SII east section at completion 401

M.4 KUS-14-SI, East section 401

N.1 Site under excavation 406

N.2 Kozungu SI, South section 406

N.3 Possible floor in Kozungu SI 407

N.4 Kozungu SII, east section at completion 407

N.5 Kozungu SII, east and north sections 408

O.1 South section at completion 416

O.2 East section at completion 417

P.1 Location shot 422

P.2 Northwest corner on completion of work 422

P.3 North section at completion 423

Q.1 Excavation team at completion of work 428

Q.2 West section at completion 428

Q.3 East section at completion 429

R.1 Setting up the raised pit excavation 435

R.2 Bisecting of protruding pit completed 436

R.3 Excavation of 1 × 2 unit in progress 437

R.4 North section at completion 438

R.5 West and east sections at completion 439

R.6 South section at completion 440

S.1 Location of Birnin Lafiya Trench 5 2012 451

S.2 Aerial view of Trench 5 451

S.3 South section of Trench 5 at completion 452

S.4 Birnin Lafiya Trench 5, North and South sections at completion 453

T.1 Site location 460

T.2 Drawing the final section 461

T.3 East section at completion 462

T.4 North section at completion 462

U.1 Excavation atmosphere at Trench 9 468

U.2 Northwest corner at completion 468

U.3 East and north sections at completion 469

U.4 South and west sections at completion 470

V.1 Trench 3/10 under excavation during the 2013 season 485

V.2 Plan of Trench 3/10 area at the beginning of the excavations, showing eroded potsherd pavements and other evidence of architectural remains 486

V.3 Plan of Trench 3/10 excavation area, indicating excavation zones and principal architectural remains 487

V.4 Plan of Room 1 and adjoining areas, indicating ceramic cluster locations and radiocarbon sample locations 488

V.5 Plan of Room 2 and adjoining areas, indicating ceramic cluster locations and radiocarbon sample locations 488

V.6 Excavation in progress on interior of Room 1 491

V.7 Illustration of excavation of deposits overlaying pavement surfaces: left, excavation of deposits covering pavement in Room 3; right, remains of destroyed (and displaced) potsherd feature excavated within destruction deposits in Room 4 491

V.8 Exterior of mud wall of Room 1 [Wall 1] seen from Room 4 492

V.9 Pottery from Trench 3/10 492

V.10 Possible mud compound wall with buttresses [Wall 9], recorded to the north-west of Room 1 493

V.11 Extension of Trench 3/10 area to the north in 2014 [Zone G] 495

V.12 Exploration of laterite and clay floors in Zone G 495

V.13 Laterite/clay pit feature [Pit B] recorded in 2014 northwestern trench extension 496

W.1 Location of trench 498

W.2 Pottery pavement 499

W.3 West section at completion 500

W.4 West section at completion 501

W.5 North section at completion 502

X.1 Location of Trench 13 at Birnin Lafiya, dominated by a large baobab 520

X.2 East section at completion 521

X.3 South section at completion 522

X.4 South section at completion 523

Y.1 Excavation atmosphere 527

Y.2 North section at completion 527

Y.3 KGI-14-SI, North section at completion528

Z.1 Concentration of potsherds on the surface of Alibori I site 533

Z.2 Partial view of the feature uncovered by Trench 2, an extension of Trench 1 533

Z.3 Feature during excavation 534

Z.4 Alibori Site 1: east section 534

AA.1 Université Abomey-Calavi students setting out Trench 3 537

AA.2 South section of Trench 3 537

AA.3 Pottery pavements visible on the surface of the site, prior to their dismantling to set out Trench 4 538

AA.4 Trench 4 in the early stages of excavation 538

AA.5 Trench 3, south section at completion 539

AB.1 Molla west section at completion 542

AB.2 Molla west section at completion 542

AB.3 Glass bottles 543

AC.1 TOU-14-SI, North section at completion 547

AC.2 Glass bracelets from Dendi sites 548

AC.3 TOU-14-SI, North section 548

AD.1 View of Trench 1 at Kantoro 553

AD.2 North section at completion 553

AD.3 North section at completion 554

AD.4 North section at completion 568

AD.5 Atmosphere shot 568

AD.6 North section at completion 569

AE.1 GAR-14-SI, location view 576

AE.2 West section at completion 576

AF.1 Site location 580

AF.2 SI, West section at completion 580

AF.3 SI, North section 580

AG.1 Location of Guene SI test pit 583

AG.2 West section at completion 583

AG.3 Guene SI, West section 583

AH.1 Site view 586

AH.2 West section at completion 586

AH.3 ROU-14-SI, West section at completion 587

AI.1 Atmosphere 591

AI.2 KLI-14-RC1, East section 591

AI.3 KLI-14-S1, West section 592

AI.4 KLI-14-S1, West section at completion 592

AI.5 KLI-14-RC1, East section section at completion 593

P1 Pekinga (PEK-12) 602

P2 Pekinga cont’d (PEK-12) 603

P3 Toutokayori (TTO-14) 604

P4 Kompa Dune (KOD-13) 605

P5 Torouwey, Kompanti (TRO-14, PTI-14) 606

P6 Tin Tin Kanza (TTK-13) 607

P7 Tin Tin Kanza cont’d (TTK-13) 608

P8 Tin Tin Kanza cont’d (TTK-13) 609

P9 Tin Tin Kanza cont’d (TTK-13) 610

P10 Tin Tin Kanza cont’d (TTK-13) 611

P11 Boyeri and Bogo Bogo (BOY-14, GOG-14) 612

P12 Kwara zeno (KAZ-14) 613

P13 Gourouberi (GOB-SI-14, GOB-SII-13) 614

P14 Gourouberi cont’d (GOB-SII-13) 615

P15 Karimama (KAR-14) 616

P16 Kusulabu (KUS-14) 617

P17 Kozungu (KOZ-14) 618

P18 Kozungu cont’d (KOZ-14) 619

P19 Tondo windi, Bokorobu (TOW-14, BOK-14) 620

P20 Birnin Lafiya S4 and S5 621

P21 Birnin Lafiya S5 622

P22 Birnin Lafiya S5, S8 623

P23 Birnin Lafiya S9 624

P24 Birnin Lafiya S9 cont’d 625

P25 Birnin Lafiya S10 626

P26 Birnin Lafiya S10 cont’d 627

P27 Birnin Lafiya S10 cont’d 628

P28 Birnin Lafiya S10 cont’d 629

P29 Birnin Lafiya S11 630

P30 Birnin Lafiya S11 cont’d 631

P31 Birnin Lafiya S11 cont’d 632

P32 Birnin Lafiya S11 cont’d 633

P33 Birnin Lafiya S11 cont’d (excavated 2013) 634

P34 Kargui and Molla (KGI-14, MOL-14) 635

P35 Tomboutou and Kantoro (TOU-14, KRO-14) 636

P36 Garou and Guene zeno (GAR-14, ENE-14) 637

P37 Guene and Kouboukoukourou (GUE-14, ROU-14) 638

P38 Madekali (KLI-14 and RC-14) 639

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