From Cambridge to Lake Chad: Life in archaeology 1956–1971 [Paperback]

Graham Connah(Author)

ISBN: 9781784919580 | Published by: Archaeopress Archaeology | Series: Archaeological Lives | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 298p, H9.75 x W7, Illustrated throughout in black & white with 9 color plates
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From Cambridge to Lake Chad: Life in archaeology 1956–1971


This book is about how the author became an archaeologist at a time when opportunities for employment were rare and how he worked as a field researcher in West Africa and wrote about his work there. It traces his archaeological training and employment at Cambridge and his practical experience on British excavations and explains how he became one of the pioneers of Nigerian archaeology during a decade in that country. It is not so much a study of the archaeology that was done, as an account of how it was done; its circumstances, organization, and economic and social and cultural context. As a result, it is both a professional and personal account, for these two aspects of life were inseparably intertwined, his wife Beryl becoming an integral part of the story. Other archaeologists and many non-archaeologists also feature in the account. The period in Nigeria from 1961 to 1971 included the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970, when archaeological work continued with difficulty. Both circumstances and preference meant that the author always worked with a labour team of Nigerians and with Nigerian assistants, of whom few had any experience in archaeology and none had any formal training; there were no postgraduates or others from outside the country. Success in excavations in Benin City, in the south of the country, and in Borno, in its far north-east, was as much the achievement of those Nigerians as it was the author’s.

Table of Contents


1. Restarting: March–September 1956

2. Essays and excavations: Cambridge, October 1956–October 1959

3. Lucky Jim: Cambridge, October 1959–October 1961

4. A ‘first tour’ in Africa: October 1961–July 1962

5. Rediscovering one’s own country: July–September 1962

6. A Benin sequence and Borno reconnaissance: September 1962–June 1964

7. A perfect summer: June–September 1964

8. Getting to grips with Borno: October 1964–July 1965

9. A long sequence at last: August 1965–June 1966

10. Island refuge and Nigerian data analysis: July 1966–December 1966

11. Borno again and work at Ibadan University: January–September 1967

12. Civil war and analysing the Borno data: October 1967–September 1968

13. War, analysis, and more excavation: October 1968–September 1969

14. Adoption, writing, the war ends: October 1969–September 1970

15. Study leave and goodbye to all that: October 1970–September 1971


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