A coastal occupation in Bénin, West Africa: Earthenwares and salt at the time of Atlantic entanglement

Anne Haour, Imogen Coulson, Didier N'Dah, Nestor Labiyi

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The archaeology of the immediate coastline of West Africa remains surprisingly little understood, and what research has been undertaken has often focused on questions relating to sea-based interactions and the precolonial polities lying slightly inland. This paper reports the results of excavations on Ohlinhoué, a small lagoonal island in the western Republic of Bénin. A locally manufactured ceramic assemblage was recovered, together with a small suite of artifacts, including glass, metal, shell, and smoking pipes. These archaeological data provide insights into a small-scale, likely fishing and salt-producing community in this area between sea and river. As such, they provide an alternative to historical readings relating to well-known precolonial polities and trade entrepôts that feed popular historical narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-268
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Issue number2
Early online date5 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Benin Republic
  • coastal archaeology
  • local pottery

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