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Authored by: Mark Horton

The Swahili World

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138913462
eBook ISBN: 9781315691459
Adobe ISBN:


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The Swahili town of Shanga was the focus of intensive archaeological investigations, undertaken by the British Institute in Eastern Africa between 1980 and 1988 (Horton 1984, 1987a, 1996). Located on the south side of Pate Island in the Lamu Archipelago (Kenya) (Map 2, p. xxiii), the site has some of the best-preserved stratigraphy in eastern Africa, with an occupation spanning from the mid-eighth to the early fifteenth century. It has one of the most complete early town plans and, at its height in the fourteenth century, had a population of around 3,000 (Horton 1996: 58). Notable discoveries included the oldest known mosques in sub-Saharan Africa, the first archaeological evidence for the indigenous origins and nature of Swahili society, as well as detailed understanding of the chronology of local and imported ceramics, of fauna, particularly fish consumption, and of architectural development from timber and daub structures to coral buildings.

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