African Archaeology Research Days in Norwich (AARD 2013)

The year is coming to an end and there are three things that we would like to write about before we move into the New Year 2014 and possibly also into a new reality for the Medieval Sai Project…

The last entry will concern the new archaeological reality of Sudan that is introduced with the era of the Qatari involvement in Sudan archaeology.

The second-last post will be the presentation of the 17th volume of Sudan & Nubia, that we received a couple of weeks ago from the British Museum, the headquarters of the Sudan Archaeological Research Society.

And the third one, the post of today, will be the revisiting of one event of that weekend with the many academic meetings that we had promised to return to, namely the African Archaeological Research Days (AARD) of 2013.


This was the tenth AARD, since the inception of these meetings in 2002. It took place in Norwich, hosted by the Sainsbury Institute for Art at the University of East Anglia. The head of the organizing committee was Anne Haour (known in the wordpress world from her excellent blogging relating to her project in the Niger Valley) who was one of the three organizers of the first AARD in Oxford headed by Peter Mitchell, as we learn from the short history of the AARD set up in the very informative SRU webpage.

The programme of AARD 2013 was also posted there:

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The organizers were kind enough to send us the abstracts of the works presented in Norwich and we uploaded them for our readers: AARD 2013 Abstracts

The venue was attended by more than 100 participants from over 20 countries, but we will naturally focus a bit more on the papers related to Sudan. In more detail:

There were two plenary papers on Sudan archaeology, namely by Mike Brass on the Jebel Moya site, and by Robert Hosfield, Kevin White and Nick Drake on the Wadi Muqadam Geoarchaeological Survey.

Then in the posters’ session, Laurence Smith updated his colleagues in England about the progress of work on the site of Suakin, about which very unfortunate news are reaching us, since the buildings are collapsing literally as we are writing these lines and as you are reading them…

So, it was a very positive thing that Shadia Taha discussed issues of site development regarding Suakin in the frame of one of the workshops of AARD 2013, namely the one titled Archaeology and Development. In the same workshop, Charles Arthur gave a paper about ‘Development-led archaeology and ethics in Africa’, where among other things the Merowe Dam and its implications were discussed, while Matthew Davies discussed issues of clientele in the archaeological work focusing on Kenya and South Sudan, with perspectives not unrelated to issues of dam projects again.

Therefore, it is interesting to observe that the topics that our contribution in the Southampton AARD 2012 were dealing with, namely the Sudan Dams’ Crisis, have followed suite in a larger perspective that discusses ethics and development across the entire African continent. We are looking forward to debating more on such topics in AARD 2014, that has been planned to take place in Bristol!

AARD 2014 will surely also offer interesting presentations…


…heated discussions…


…and lively gatherings at the breaks of the African Archaeological Research Days…



Concluding this post, we would like to thank Anne Haour and Nadia Khalaf for the invitation to ‘cover’ AARD 2013 and all the material sent to us. See you next year!

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