The Comoros Origins Project is exploring the origins and lifeways of the earliest settlers of the Comoros archipelago, a chain of small stepping-stone islands that link mainland East Africa with Madagascar. Settled by humans around the 8th century CE, the Comoros have long been part of Indian Ocean trading systems. Recent data collected by our team also suggests they were settled not only from Africa, but by people from island Southeast Asia as part of the same maritime expansion that contributed to the peopling of Madagascar. Here we report the preliminary results of our 2019 field season on Anjouan. With colleagues from Centre National de la Research Scientifique (CNDRS), we conducted geophysical surveys and small-scale excavations at the coastal trading site of Old Sima to determine the spatial extent and integrity of the earliest deposits, and to collect preliminary archaeological evidence to understand the nature of early settlement. Plans for future work on the project will be discussed.

About the presenter

Alison Crowther is a Group Leader in Archaeobotany at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Human Science (2017–2020) and Research Fellow at The University of Queensland in Australia (2014–), where she is based. Alison’s research interests include the archaeobotany of early agriculture in Africa and the Indo-Pacific, trans-regional maritime trade and crop transfers, and ancient food processing technologies, which she investigates combining micro- and macrobotanical approaches as well as experimental and taphonomic studies.  

About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.


Sir Llew Edwards Building (14), UQ, St Lucia

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