Senior Research Associate
Sam Nixon PhD (2008, UCL) is a Senior Research Associate working within the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage.
He is an archaeologist whose broad research interest is the development of global trade and exchange networks in pre-modern times. His primary research interest is the medieval-era, with a particular emphasis on long distance trade networks linking European and Islamic medieval worlds to other parts of the globe. Sam’s principal research to date has been on medieval-era societies and trading networks in the Sahara and West Africa. Building on previous experience working in Japan, Sam is currently collaborating on a series of initiatives to link discussion of medieval-era archaeology in Japan into wider global networks and debates. His main theoretical interest is in the practice of ‘global’ or ‘world’ archaeology, and how different cultures around the world interpret and construct accounts of the histories of other peoples and nations.
Sam pursued his PhD on medieval-era Saharan societies associated with the West African gold trade, framed against his excavations at Tadmekka in the Malian Sahara (monograph in press). Sam was also a Research Associate with the European Research Council-funded Crossroads of empires project, investigating medieval ‘empires’ and urban landscapes in West Africa, focused around fieldwork in the Republic of Benin. Other recent projects Sam has led include a survey of the Ashanti-Hausaland trade route that traversed West Africa during the late medieval and early-modern period, and a Royal Anthropological Institute/Horniman Museum Collecting Initiative-funded project documenting craft production in West Africa.
Recently Sam curated the exhibition Crossroads of empires: archaeology in West Africa at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (Oct. 2014 – Feb. 2015) , and worked together with the British Museum on the exhibition Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam (2012). He is also a member of the Steering Committee for the upcoming Caravans of Gold (for 2019/20), a travelling US exhibition organized by Northwestern University.
Sam is also a Research Associate at the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania & the Americas University of East Anglia.
Sam is currently a Co-investigator on a new Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project, Global Perspectives on British Archaeology, focused on linking archaeological researchers with a ‘global archaeology’ background and archaeologists investigating the British past. The aim is to see how such an exchange can generate new reflections on the practice of local, national, and international archaeologies, and ultimately how we as archaeologists construct histories within a globally connected archaeological world.
64 The Close, Norwich NR1 4DH , United Kingdom
T: +44 (0)1603-597507
F: +44 (0)1603-625011
Nixon, S (ed.) In press (to be published Spring 2017). The market town of Tadmekka: a crossroads of cultures in medieval West Africa. Leiden: Brill.
Stevens, C., S. Nixon, M. Murray, & D. Fuller, (eds.) 2014. Archaeology of African plant use. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.
Nixon, S. In prep. Teasing out the traces of an African architectural tradition: an excavated pottery-paved architectural complex from the Republic of Benin. Submitting to African Arts.
Haour, A., S. Nixon, D. N’Dah, C. Magnavita and A. Livingstone Smith. 2016. The settlement mound of Birnin Lafiya: new evidence from the eastern arc of the Niger River. Antiquity 90 (351): 695-710.
Nixon, S., Mardjoua, B., Takpara, F. 2015. The Ashanti-Hausaland Trade Route and the Kingdom of Borgu: Archaeological and Oral Historical Survey within the Republic of Benin. Nyame Akuma 83: 48-61.
Rehren, T, & S. Nixon. 2014. Refining gold with glass – an early Islamic technology at Tadmekka, Mali. Journal of Archaeological Science. 49: 33-41 [Open Access].
Nixon, S. 2013. Tadmekka: Archéologie d’une ville caravanière des premiers temps du commerce transsaharien. Afriques 04 http://afriques.revues.org/1237 [Open Access].
Nixon, S., M. Filomena Guerra & T. Rehren. 2011. New light on the early Islamic West African gold trade: coin moulds from Tadmekka, Mali. Antiquity. 85: 1353-1368.
Nixon, S., M. Murray & D. Fuller. 2011. Archaeobotany and trans-Saharan trade in the early Islamic West African Sahel: investigating Essouk-Tadmakka (Mali). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. 20 (3) 223-239.
Nixon, S. 2010. Before Timbuktu: the great trading centre of Tadmakka. Current World Archaeology 39: 40-51. Current World Archaeology article.
Nixon, S. 2009. Excavating Essouk-Tadmakka (Mali): new archaeological investigations of Early Islamic trans-Saharan trade. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. 44 (2): 217-255.
Nixon, S. In prep. Saharan Africa. In: Walker, B., Insoll, T., Fenwick, C. Oxford Handbook of Islamic Archaeology. Oxford University Press.
Haour, A, & S. Nixon.. In prep. Birnin Lafiya within West African Archaeology. In: A. Haour (ed.) Birnin Lafiya: 2000 years in a Dendi Village. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph series. Leiden: Brill.
Nixon, S. In prep. Architecture. In: A. Haour (ed.) Birnin Lafiya: 2000 years in a Dendi Village. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph series. Leiden: Brill.
Haour, A., S. Nixon, A. Livingstone-Smith. In prep. Pottery. In: A. Haour (ed.) Birnin Lafiya: 2000 years in a Dendi Village. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph series. Leiden: Brill.
Haour, A., D. Ndah, C. Magnavita S. Nixon, A. Livingstone-Smith. In prep. Excavation methods and strategies. In: A. Haour (ed.) Birnin Lafiya: 2000 years in a Dendi Village. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph series. Africa Magna Verlag.
Nixon, S. Submitted. The archaeology of early Islamic-era Trans-Saharan trading towns at the southern Saharan fringe. In: Trans-Saharan Archaeology Volume II (‘Urbanisation and State Formation’), series editor D.J. Mattingly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press and The Society for Libyan Studies.
Nixon, S. In press. Trans-Saharan gold trade in pre-modern times: available evidence and research agendas. In: D. J. Mattingly, V. Leitch, C. Duckworth, A. Cuenod, M. Sterry and F. Cole (eds) Trade in the Ancient Sahara and Beyond. Trans-Saharan Archaeology Volume I. Series editor D.J. Mattingly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press and The Society for Libyan Studies.
Nixon, S. 2014. West Africa: Islamic archaeology. In C. Smith (ed.) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. New York: Springer. 7720-7733.
Nixon, S. 2013. ‘A longing for Mecca’: the trans-Saharan Hajj and the caravan towns of West Africa. In V. Porter & L. Saif (eds.) Hajj: Collected Essays. British Museum Press. 65-73.
Nixon, S. 2011. The rising trade with Africa. In M. Carver and J. Klapste (eds). The Archaeology of Medieval Europe, Vol 2: 1200-1600. Aarhus University Press. 361-369.
Haour, A., D. N’Dah, O. Gosselain, S. Nixon. 2015. Carrefour des empires: Archéologie, histoire et ethnographie dans le Dendi (République du Bénin). Universite Abomey Calavi, Benin.
Nixon, S. & A. Haour. 2014. Crossroads of empires: archaeology in West Africa. Gallery guide. East Publishing.
Nixon, S. 2013. Review of ‘Oursi hu-beero. A medieval house complex in Burkina Faso, West Africa’ (ed. L. P. Petit et al 2011). Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. 48: 448-451.
2012: Contributions to Patrimoines du Nord Mali, Biens culturels à préserver. UNESCO. DNPC/CRAterre.
2012: Contributions to the British Museum exhibition catalogue Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam.
2005: Collaborated on popular press outputs on Tadmekka research with BBC History Magazine, Die Welt, and Berliner Morgenpost.