SRU logo
UEA logo

Anne Haour

Reader in the Arts and Archaeology of Africa

BA (1995), Oxford; MA (1998), University College London; DPhil (2002), Oxford; British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow 2002-2005 Hertford College, Oxford; Lecturer in Archaeology 2006-2007, University of Newcastle.

General Research Interests

West African archaeology, especially archaeology of Niger and Bénin; social, economic and political boundaries and connections in the Sahel in the last 1500 years; ceramic typology

Current Research

My focus is the recent, ‘medieval’, archaeology of West Africa, in particular that of the Sahelian zones. This was a time and place in which vast and powerful ‘empires’ are described in historical records as controlling the land – but little is know of them in archaeological terms. My major project at the moment is a programme of archaeological excavations and ethnohistorical research in the north of Bénin, on the Niger River, which I am leading in the context of a European Research Council grant. This area is at the crossroads of numerous past polities of which the most prominent are Songhai, Borgu and Kebbi. This five-year project (2011-2016) studies how medieval ‘empires’ influenced the patterning of settlement and material culture across the landscape. I write about it on We are hoping to find evidence of the activities of skilled craftspeople – ‘technical specialists’ – such as potters, blacksmiths and dyers, and to explore how their work and daily life were affected by the polities that occupied this landscape in the last millennium.

This builds on my earlier work at two Sahelian medieval sites, both in the Republic of Niger: Kufan Kanawa (Haour, 2003) and Garumele (Haour, 2008). Both these sites are said by oral tradition (and less clearly by written records) to have been involved in the formative stages of some powerful political entities: the Hausa and Kanem-Borno respectively.

This field research, then, addresses themes of wider significance: the creation and maintenance of political and cultural boundaries, the nature of the ‘early state’, the role of trade and of religion, and the interrelation of the different sources of information we have relating to the past. I have therefore developed theoretical reflections along these themes (Haour, 2005, 2007, 2013), in particular using comparative approaches. In my 2007 book I set side by side the central Sahel and northwest Europe to see what each region can teach us about the other, and I have just finished writing a book for OUP about the role of outsiders and strangers in the West African past. Focusing on West Africa, this book argues that we should explore what happens when the primary label assigned to a person's identity is that of an outsider - when he or she is of, but not in, society. Such outsiders can be found everywhere in the West African past: rulers show off their foreign descent, traders migrate to new areas, potters and blacksmiths claim to be apart from society.  All in all then, African archaeology has proved to be a fertile ground for theoretical debating and refining, and that its profile within the wider archaeological community will go on increasing.

The European Research Council project is my major commitment at the moment and I am enjoying getting passionate and intelligent people together to hammer out a scholarly problem. In 2008 I had convened two international workshops : a Leverhulme-Trust-funded meeting dedicated to West African pottery analysis with Kat Manning (UCL), and a workshop on Hausa identity with Benedetta Rossi (Birmingham), supported by a major grant from the AHRC/ESRC and with valuable assistance from the Sainsbury Research Unit.  Both have led to books. Further details on these, and other SRU research projects, can be found on the SRU Research Activities page. In addition, the Hausa identity project led me to seek further funding under the Religion and Society ‘Youth Impact’ funding which has allowed me to bring the results of our research to a nearby secondary school, asking 11-year-olds to reflect on stereotypes which they might hold on Africa. You can find the results on our online teaching resource stemming from the project,

My research group includes postdoctoral researcher Sam Nixon, who is currently undertaking research within the Crossroads project as well as developing a series of publications on medieval era archaeology in West and North Africa; and doctoral students Joyce Dartey (who is excavating the site of Zoboku in the Koma area of northern Ghana), Asma’u Ahmed Giade (working on the archaeology and ethnography of Shire in northern Nigeria), and Nadia Khalaf, who is applying satellite remote sensing and survey to investigate the historic landscape of the Niger River Valley of Benin. In addition I oversee several MA students who are working directly on aspects of the Crossroads material. Together with John Mack I supervise Ivan Lagat (National Museums of Kenya) and Vicky van Bockhaven (Belgium) and recently completed students are Laura de Becker (University of the Witwatersrand), Fiona Sheales/Savage (formerly British Museum, now SRU), and Abubakar Sule Sani (Ahmadu Bello University Zaria).

Selected publications


Haour, Anne (2013). Outsiders and strangers: an archaeology of liminality in West Africa. In press with Oxford University Press.

Haour, Anne (2012) To the other shore: West African trade centres and the wics. In: Hodges, R. and Gelichi, S. eds. From one sea to the other: trade centres in the European and Mediterranean Early Middle Ages. Brepols, Turnhout.

Haour, Anne (2011) Putting pots and people in the Sahelian empires. Azania (issue guest-edited in collaboration with K Manning), 46 (1). pp. 36-48.

Haour, Anne (2011) The archaeology of Hausaland. In: Gold, slaves and ivory - medieval empires in northern Nigeria. Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz, pp. 66-69.

Haour, Anne (2011) The early medieval slave trade of the central Sahel: archaeological and historical considerations. In: Comparative dimensions of slavery in Africa: archaeology and memory. Proceesings of the British Academy (168). Open University Press/British Academy, Oxford, pp. 61-78.

Gosselain, O, Haour, Anne, MacDonald, K and Manning, Kat (2010) Introduction. In: African pottery roulettes past and present: techniques, identification, and distribution. Oxbow, Oxford, pp. 1-34.

Haour, Anne and Rossi, B (2010) Introduction: Hausa identity: language, history and religion. In: Being and becoming Hausa: interdisciplinary perspectives. Brill, Leiden, pp. 1-33.

Haour, Anne, Manning, Kat, Arazi, N, Gosselain, O, Guèye, S, Keita, D, Livingstone Smith, A, MacDonald, K,Mayor, A, McIntosh, S and Vernet, R, eds. (2010) African impressed pottery roulettes past and present: techniques, identification, and distribution. Oxbow, Oxford. ISBN 978-1842179680

Haour, Anne and Rossi, B, eds. (2010) Being and becoming Hausa: interdisciplinary perspectives. Brill, Leiden.

Haour, Anne and Gado, B (2009) Garumele, ville médiévale du Kanem-Borno? Une contribution archéologique. Journal of African History, 50. pp. 1-21.

Haour, Anne and Moguen, C (2008) Afrique Oubliée; Translation (English to French) of Connah, G. 2004. Forgotten Africa: an introduction to its archaeology. L'Harmattan.

Haour, Anne (2007) Rulers, warriors, traders and clerics: the Central Sahel and the North Sea. Oxford University Press (in the context of the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellows Monograph Scheme), p. 200. ISBN 0197264115

Haour, Anne, Winton, V, Idé, O, Rendell, H and Clarke, M (2006) The Project Sahel 2004: The archaeological sequence in the Parc W, Niger. Journal of African Archaeology, 4 (2). pp. 299-315.

Haour, Anne (2005) Power and permanence in precolonial Africa: a case study from the central Sahel. World Archaeology, 37 (4). pp. 552-565.

Haour, Anne and Galpine, R (2005) Culture and technology in the pottery of the medieval Sahel. Journal of African Archaeology, 3 (1). pp. 127-137.

Haour, Anne and Person, J (2004) An Instance of Dental Modification on a human skeleton from Niger, West Africa. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 24 (4). pp. 427-433.

Haour, Anne (2004) L'ancienne Kano? Nouveaux résultats de Kufan Kanawa, Niger. In: Acts of the 11th Congress of the PanAfrican Association of Prehistory and Related Fields, Bamko Feburary 2001. Bamako, Mali, pp. 54-61.

Haour, Anne (2003) One hundred years of archaeology in Niger. Journal of World Prehistory, 17 (2). pp. 181-234.

Haour, Anne, Mitchell, P and Hobart, J, eds. (2003) Researching Africa's Past: new perspectives from British archaeologists. School of Archaeology, Oxford, p. 200. ISBN 0947816585

Haour, Anne (2003) Ethnoarchaeology in the Zinder region, Republic of Niger: the site of Kufan Kanawa.Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 56 . Archaeopress, Oxford, p. 149. ISBN 1841715069

Haour, Anne (2000) The former Kano? Ethnoarchaeology of Kufan Kanawa, Niger. Antiquity, 74. pp. 767-768.

Haour, Anne, Blench, R, Driver, T and Hendrie, B (1998) Resource Conflict in Semi-Arid Africa: An Essay and Annotated Bibliography. Overseas Development Institute, London.


Current courses

  • SRU MA Africa seminars
  • Contributions to SRU MA Core course
  • ART 3rd year undergraduate course, 'A myth of timeless Africa'

Excavations in progress at Garumele, easternmost Niger

Excavations in progress at Garumele, easternmost Niger

Site designed by Accent Design Group Ltd