- BA, MA, PhD
- Honorary Research Associate, UCL Institute of Archaeology
- Director, Essouk-Tadmekka Archaeological Project (Republic of Mali)
- Consultant: British Museum Hajj exhibition, 2012
- Editor: Tadmekka: an early Muslim trading centre in West Africa. Africa Magna Verlag
- Editorial assistant/Co-editor: The archaeology of African plant use. Left Coast Press.
- African archaeology (particularly medieval period)
- Islamic archaeology
- Trade and exchange
- Complex societies
- Ceramics analysis
Projects and collaborations
- Essouk-Tadmekka Archaeological Project (Republic of Mali): 2004 – present
The project was developed to better define trade relations, social identity, and material culture production within the wider context of the West African Sahel and its contacts with early Islam. The focal point of the project has been a fieldwork program at the early Islamic trans-Saharan trading centre of Tadmekka, in the north of Mali. A 6 metre archaeological sequence was excavated (dating from c. AD 750-1400), significantly expanded the understanding of the site and the wider regional socio-cultural processes being investigated.
Together with various UK and international specialists, the following programs of analyses have been carried out on the Essouk-Tadmekka excavated material: technical analysis of West African ceramics using thin-section and SEM (Kevin MacDonald & Dorian Fuller, UCL); technical and chemical analysis of archaeometallurgy debris and metal artefacts using XRF, PIXE and SEM (Thilo Rehren, UCL; Maria Filomena Guerra, CNRS Paris); chemical analysis of metal artefacts using Lead Isotope and Microprobe analyses (Thomas Fenn, University of Arizona; Laure Dussubieux, Chicago Field Museum); formal and chemical analysis of the bead and vessel glass including SEM and LA-ICP-MS samples (James Lankton, UCL/CNRS Orleans; Pete Robertshaw, California State University; Laure Dussubieux, Chicago Field Museum; St John Simpson, British Museum); glazed ceramics analysis (Venetia Porter, British Museum; Derek Kennet, Durham University; Regina Krahl, Sothebys); archaeobotany, including SEM (Mary Anne Murray & Dorian Fuller, UCL); analysis of the faunal remains (Kevin MacDonald, UCL); analysis of shell remains (Ken Thomas, UCL; Jane Siddell, English Heritage); Islamic inscriptions (Paulo Farias, University of Birmingham); conservation work (James Hales, UCL).
Archaeological fieldwork experience
- 2008 & 2009: Co-fieldwork Director, Bronze Age tomb survey in Sicily. Responsible for field survey, including GPS recording and mapping of sites on topographic maps (UCL).
- 2004, 2005 & 2006: Director of Fieldwork, Essouk-Tadmekka Archaeological Project (Mali) In charge of the financing, logistics and execution of survey, excavation, and ceramic analysis seasons (UCL).
- 2004: Excavation Supervisor, Volubilis (Morocco) Supervising an excavation unit in the investigation of the Islamic-era levels of the urban centre of Volubilis (UCL/Moroccan Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine).
- 2003: Survey Leader, archaeological survey in the Lower Shire Valley, Malawi Overseeing the recording and sampling of historic era sites in Lengwe National park (University of Leiden).
- 2003: Fieldwork Assistant Supervisor, University of Dar es Salaam field school (Tanzania) Supervising excavation of an Iron Age village and mapping of a medieval town.
- 2002: Excavation Assistant, Cane River African Diaspora Archaeological Project (Louisiana, USA) Responsible for a unit in the excavation of an 18th-century plantation site (UCL/Northwestern State University, Louisiana).
- 2001: Excavation Assistant, Homestead Hill, Avery Island (Louisiana, USA) Participated in the excavation of a 19th-century industrial archaeology site (University of Alabama).
- 2001: Excavation and Survey Assistant, Black Warrior River Survey (Alabama, USA) Participated in shovel testing/surface collection at the pre-Columbian Moundville complex (University of Alabama)
- The Essouk-Tadmekka research has featured in BBC History Magazine (2005), Die Welt (2005), the Berliner Morgenpost (2005), and on UCL’s African Heritage and Archaeology website
- Artefacts, photographs, and results from the Tadmekka research are to form an important part of the 2012 Hajj British Museum exhibition, on the history of Islamic pilgrimage
- 2008: PhD in Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
- 2002: MA in Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology. Graded Distinction.
- 1998: BA in History of Art, UCL.
- Nixon, S., M. Filomena Guerra & Th. Rehren. In press. New light on the early Islamic West African gold trade: coin moulds from Tadmekka, Mali. Antiquity.
- Nixon, S. In press. Tadmekka: l’archéologie d’une ville caravanière Islamique sur les routes trans-Sahararienne. Afriques 4.
- Nixon, S. In press. Contacts between Europe and Africa. In M. Carver and J. Klapste (eds). The Archaeology of Medieval Europe, Vol 2: 1200-1600. Aarhus University Press.
- 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.
- 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.
Selected publications in preparation
- Nixon, S (ed.) Tadmekka: an early Muslim trading centre in West Africa. Africa Magna Verlag
- Nixon, S., D. Fuller, M. Murray (eds.) The archaeology of African plant use. Left Coast Press.
- Nixon, S. Islamic archaeology in West Africa. In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer
- Nixon, S. Pilgrimage and trade from West Africa. In V. Porter (ed.) Hajj. British Museum Press.
- General contact:
Institute of Archaeology UCL