Oursi Hu-Beero – a hands-on archaeological site and museum in the heart of the Sahel zone are open for public since the summer of 2005.
In the years 2000 and 2001 a team of archaeologists from the Universities of Frankfurt/ Main (Germany) and Ouagadougou, including myself, excavated a site that they had discovered some years earlier. They named it, together with the villagers, Oursi hu-beero, meaning “the big house of Oursi” in Songhay, the language spoken in the village.
This complex structure from the 10th century AD is a rare example of preserved mud-brick architecture ruins. An unhappy event for the medieval population turned hu-beero into a sensational find for the archaeologists: the house was attacked and burned down. Its basic structures were hardened by the fire, and a massive roof structure collapsed and protected the walls for the next millennium.
After the research project had ended, I took to developing the site as a pilot-project for cultural preservation and tourist development in the Sahel. Cooperating with the Burkinabe Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism, I raised funds from international donors and worked with the population to preserve this special site from its immediate destruction by erosion. Nowadays, the project is run by locals, but of course still remains under national authority as an important archaeological site.
The result is an entirely covered and protected site with a beautiful little museum, aesthetically designed to fit into the landscape and ecologically built in woodless construction. Inside you will find the fine white sand of the dunes covering the floor, exactly as it had been in the site a millennium ago. The exhibition tells you the story of the project, shows objects and gives information on what was discovered in the excavations and explains the historic changes over the last centuries that turned the Sahel into the area you witness nowadays.