The governments in Africa implement various development projects to improve livelihoods. The projects are both large and small scale. Large-scale projects include construction of dams, railway lines, roads, industrial complexes, expanding cities and new mines. Small-scale ones include establishing new residential houses and maintenance of roads linking administrative divisions. Both large- and small-scale projects involve land disturbance and have the potential to destroy archaeological heritage particularly when not accompanied by salvage studies. Unfortunately, archaeological salvage studies largely focus on large-scale projects. Only a handful of studies may have investigated the impact of small-scale projects. This paper focuses on small-scale projects and investigates the seven-hectare archaeological site of Bweni in NE Tanzania. The project to build fishing ponds on an area of only 350 m2 destroyed archaeological heritage including human remains and ceramics of the early Swahili period, ceramics and beads of the Swahili ‘golden age’ period, and archaeological records of the post-Swahili period.
Part of the history of human settlements on the islands along the Pangani River at Korogwe in northeastern Tanzania has been misconstrued. Eurocentric accounts claim that the islands were inhabited during the nineteenth century and that they were refuges for the Zigua from Maasai cattle raiders. Those accounts also claim that these settlements served as staging posts for trade caravans during the nineteenth century to provide food and security to coastal traders. An historical archaeology study conducted at the four abandoned islands of Ngombezi, Old Korogwe, Kwa Sigi and Maurui necessitates a rigorous re-examination of the documented historical narratives of these settlements. Current archaeological evidence suggests that the islands have been inhabited continuously for more than five centuries. The island communities were not isolated: instead, they were part of regional systems of trade and exchange that had developed long before the nineteenth century.
For World Heritage Sites (WHS) to be sustainable, they need regular care and established Management Plans. Such care depends, however, upon the availability of resources (both technical and financial) and the readiness and commitment of government, together with the involvement of other stakeholders such as local communities. The application of this care results in the continued survival of WHS despite the anthropogenic and natural threats that they face. Recent research carried out at the cultural WHS of the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara, Tanzania, indicates that, although significant financial resources have been given to address various conservation and management challenges, the Tanzanian government has not fully committed itself to resolving these challenges and has not fully involved local communities in sustainably managing the sites. Moreover, in the process of implementing conservation projects, archaeological deposits, which, like architectural structures, form part of the site’s Outstanding Universal Values (OUV), have been destroyed. Despite these shortcomings, UNESCO has removed the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara WHS from the World Heritage List (WHL) of sites in danger. We present an analysis of what is needed to retain WHS integrity in conditions that are far from optimal. We suggest that multi-focused WHS conservation projects that adhere to established Management Plans, aided by professional advice, are critical to preserving these sites for posterity.
In a paper titled ‘When Did the Swahili Became Maritime’ published in the American Anthropologist, authors are sceptical about accepting the idea that Swahili societies of the East African coast were fully maritime from their earlier settlement times (about 20,000–30,000 years ago). Instead, they argue that “despite their proximity to the sea and the use of it, they practically remained not maritime societies until after circa C.E. 1000 when the level of maritimity increased greatly and became fully realized.” Although tracing when a certain society becomes ‘maritime’ is problematic, the authors did not recognize the full maritime-ness of the Swahili societies that existed several centuries before 1000 C.E., hence this reply. This paper uses historical and archaeological data with the view that the maritime-ness of the Swahili communities of the East African coast is older than thought by authors. I hereby argue that from their earlier settlement, Swahili communities were not merely part of their maritime environment but they were fully maritime and interacted with the Indian Ocean. Movements of people between and among the islands of the Indian Ocean along the coast of East Africa, individuals navigating abroad to learn some aspects of a foreign culture which they later brought back home, and the day-to-day uses of resources from the ocean verify that the maritime-ness of the societies is before 1000 C.E.
The interaction between the Swahili Coast of the present-day Tanzanian coast and other parts of the Indian Ocean world dates back to the first millennium AD. This commercial communication resulted in the rise of several coastal city-states (stonebuilt towns), some of which date back to the tenth century. Unfortunately, some of these states started to collapse during the second half of the second millennium and the majority of them is in a ruinous state. These material remains, which according to the Tanzania’s Antiquities Act of 1964 deserve legal protection, have not been studied comprehensively mainly to establish their conservation history. The current article addresses this problem, and by analysing documents, it establishes the conservation history of monuments and historic buildings of the Swahili Coast in Tanzania. Research results indicate that some built heritage sites started decaying during the fourteenth century AD. Because of recognising the importance of these built heritage sites, communities of the region embarked on strategies to care these built heritage sites. This observation contradicts the European conventional wisdom maintaining that, in Africa, conservation of built heritage sites such as monuments and historic buildings began in the nineteenth century and was propagated by European colonialists
Laetoli is a well-known palaeontological locality in northern Tanzania whose outstanding record includes the earliest hominin footprints in the world (3.66 million years old), discovered in 1978 at Site G and attributed to Australopithecus afarensis. Here, we report hominin tracks unearthed in the new Site S at Laetoli and referred to two bipedal individuals (S1 and S2) moving on the same palaeosurface and in the same direction as the three hominins documented at Site G. The stature estimates for S1 greatly exceed those previously reconstructed for Au. afarensis from both skeletal material and footprint data. In combination with a comparative reappraisal of the Site G footprints, the evidence collected here embodies very important additions to the Pliocene record of hominin behaviour and morphology. Our results are consistent with considerable body size variation and, probably, degree of sexual dimorphism within a single species of bipedal hominins as early as 3.66 million years ago.
This article reports on the artefacts and environment of marine ballast and pottery sites identified through inter‐tidal and underwater survey around Kilwa, Tanzania, one of the most important medieval sultanates along the east African coast. An inter‐tidal site on the limestone fringing reef on the approaches to Kilwa Kisiwani Harbour and an underwater site within the harbour have been dated from associated pottery to c.8th–10th century and the 13th–16th century respectively. The presence of exotic basalt ballast is discussed as an indicator of wreck‐sites.
The east African Swahili ports developed extensive maritime trading links around the Indian Ocean, and supported economic, political, and urban growth in the early second millennium AD. This article identifies ports of varying function and importance in SE Tanzania, and seeks to understand their development in the context of natural harbor advantage, boat technology, sailing practice, and resource needs. Field data from landing places are combined with weather patterns, historical documents, and oral traditions to provide an integrated survey of the ports and harbors that once sustained medieval commerce along this section of the Swahili coast. The emergence of Kilwa as an entrepôt to become the key center is based initially upon its naturally advantageous harbor facilities, safety and flexibility of approach in days of sail, and assurance of monsoon winds. Original natural advantages gradually become self-sustaining with its economic and political growth. To the north and south of Kilwa a series of ports of call with drinking water and boat servicing supported trade to and from the pre-eminent city, although some such as Kisimani Mafia and Kwale-Kisuju developed important trade functions of their own.
This paper investigates the purpose of lime mortar-coated potsherds found along the East African coast. Recent sites investigated are in areas of Kaole, Kiswere, Rushungi, Sudi, and Mikindani in Tanzania. Desktop research revealed similar potsherds from Manda in the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya and Kilwa Kisiwani in Tanzania. From the late first millennium AD, asphalt has been recorded on pottery at Manda to make it waterproof. From around the same period, mortar was found on pottery at Kaole and on other artefacts in the midden deposit such as ‘bead’ grinders and bone deposits. This suggests natural cementation from lime introduced to the midden deposit. A thin layer of plaster on pots dating to the late twelfth to late thirteenth centuries at Kilwa Kisiwani, and eleventh to fourteenth centuries at Sudi, has been interpreted as deliberate to make the vessel more watertight. Later evidence indicates that the tradition of coating pots with lime mortar probably for the purposes of storing liquids continued up to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries at Mikindani. However, vessels and deposits dating from the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries at Kiswere and Bwembweni, near Kaole, contain layers of mortar too thick for the purpose of waterproofing the vessel, and were probably used for mixing and then coating a building. The coastal and estuarine settings of the find spots indicate the importance of water transport for this lime mortar industry. The storage and transport of lime along the coast and inland would have been a significant part of local East African trade for its use in iron making and building.
Tanzania is blessed with a unique and important maritime history as compared to many other countries of the Indian Ocean coast. The history’s uniqueness is due to two main reasons: First, the presence of many water bodies such as rivers and lakes equally distributed in Tanzania, and also the Indian Ocean which stretches from the northeastern to the southeastern parts of Tanzania (Fig. 1). The most known rivers with maritime heritage potentiality include Rufiji, Ruvuma, Pangani, Kagera, Mara, Malagarasi and Wami, just to mention few. The lakes are Victoria, Nyasa, Tanganyika, Rukwa, Eyasi, Manyara and Natron. The second reason is that fishing, transport, trade and contact and the related social interactions had long been part and parcel of the people daily activities in both rivers and lakes and along the coast of the Indian Ocean (Sheriff, 1987; Horton, 1996a; 1996b; Horton and Middleton, 2000; Gilbert, 2002; Ichumbaki, 2011). This marine culture and the related socio - economic undertakings are revealed in different evidences ranging from archaeology, history, architecture, mortuary and numismatics (Chami, 1999; Biginagwa, 2012).
By using archaeological and ethnographic evidence, this paper provides an overview of historic consumptions of fish and shellfish by local communities that lived along the coast of East Africa particularly in Tanzania. It is argued in this paper that for the past one and half millennium, fish and shellfish landing sites as well as their consumption have been changing over time and space. Data from archaeological surveys and excavations highlight some information on these two issues. Results indicate that, whereas the former (fish and shellfish landing sites) were and continue to be attributed to change in sea level and the need to meet demands of existing socio-economic setups, the latter (their consumption) was either due to availability and/or preferences. This tendency continues to-date though in a different manner. For instance, as a means to obtain preferred fishes, local communities embarked on dynamite fishing which, however, despite providing commercial and food advantages, causes serious harm to both local communities and marine resources.
Tanzania is endowed with numerous natural and cultural heritage assets that span from pliocene to present. A number of these such as Oduvai Gorge and Ngorongoro Crater, just to mention a few encompass mosiacs of heritage assets that attract both local and international attention. Integration of such features is advantageous to tourists because they get an exposure to both cultural and ecological heritage at close distance. Therefore it is more fruitful in both time and money. However, despite existence of many features of the kind in Tanzania, such rare advantage has never been taped. In addition, there are no strategies to link cultural heritage and eco-tourism for sustainable socio-economic developments. This paper therefore explores and illustrates how Tanzania can link ecotourism and cultural tourism to promote not only tourism but also conserve both natural and cultural environments.
Tanzania has a long and unique maritime history. This shared history left various signatures which are needed by present and future generations for their cultural, scientific and economic significance. However, despite such maritime potentiality, very miniature has been done by scholars to research, identify, document and assess the cultural significance of the Tanzanian maritime and underwater cultural heritages. It was until rescently that the country has started some initiatives to identify and manage her maritime and underwater heritage assets. This is done by the established Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH) program which officially started in february 2009. Among others, the program initiatives has resulted to documenting some of the country's maritime and underwater cultural heritage assets as well as establishing a strong team from various Government‟s departments and institutions.
In 1976 and 2014, scientists reported hominin footprints in Pliocene volcanic deposits at Laetoli, north-eastern Tanzania. They hypothesized that the footprints belong to the extinct hominin species Australopithecus afarensis. Not only have the footprints shaped scientists’ understanding of human biological evolution, but they have also placed Laetoli and Tanzania on the world’s paleoanthropological studies map. However, there have been different interpretations of who made these footprints. Opinions of the scientists on the footprints are widely documented, yet narratives of Maasai (local people living around Laetoli) have never been investigated. This paper documents the perceptions of Maasai on what these footprints are, and to whom they belong. We report that concepts related to the nature and genesis of the footprints and who made them form part of the Maasai’s history. Finally, we suggest that for sustainable footprints preservation, local narratives about footprints be integrated into scientific interpretations of the site.. Click here to read the full article
The Swahili World, edited by Stephanie Wynne-Jones and Adria LaViolette, brings together papers by scholars who have done and continue to do research on the western Indian Ocean coast, famously known as the “Swahili coast.” Following a note on terminology, the volume has 672 pages containing 115 color prints, organized into a preface and 56 chapters. The book is part of Routledge’s “World” series. It is the first of its kind to bring together the different perspectives of eminent scholars of the Swahili, one of Africa’s great civilizations (p. 1), on what happened and why along the Indian Ocean coast during the past two millennia.
Researchers have long attempted to answer these what and why questions from different perspectives. For instance, Nurse and Spear (1985) answered them from the linguistic perspective, while Horton and Middleton (2000) did so from archaeological and historical ones. A more recent attempt is that of Meier (2016) who, by using monumental stone houses, mosques,... Click here to read the full article
In 1976 paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey and other scientists reported that they’d found ancient hominin footprints at a site in Laetoli, northeastern Tanzania. The footprints were frozen in volcanic deposits from the Pliocene, an epoch that lasted from 5.333 million to 2.58 million years ago. The team hypothesised that the footprints belonged to an extinct hominin species famously known as Lucy. The species’ scientific name is Australopithecus afarensis (Click here to read the full article ).
The Eastern Africa Quaternary Research Association (EAQUA) is a multidisciplinary scientific organization formed to enhance the growth of the Quaternary Science community in the eastern Africa region through promotion of collaborative research. In addition, the Association aims to facilitate active communication on Quaternary research issues and information exchange on palaeoclimate, palaeoenvironment, archaeology, palaeontology and palaeoanthropology among eastern African and international researchers with interests in various aspects on the Quaternary sciences in the region. The Association hosts biennial rotational conferences of eastern African and international researchers working in various aspects of the Quaternary period in the region to share research results and deliberate on various issues of Quaternary sciences research. The first three conferences of the Association were held in 2007, 2009 and 2011 in Kampala (Uganda), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Zanzibar (Tanzania), respectively. The conferences were aimed at bringing together eastern African Quaternary researchers together with their international counterparts to promote collaborative research and exchange of research results.
The Eastern Africa Quaternary Research Association (EAQUA) is a multidisciplinary scientific organization formed to enhance the growth of the Quaternary Science community in the eastern Africa region through promotion of collaborative research. In addition, the Association aims to facilitate active communication on Quaternary research issues and information exchange on palaeoclimate, palaeoenvironment, archaeology, palaeontology and palaeoanthropology among eastern African and international researchers with interests in various aspects on the Quaternary sciences in the region. The Association hosts biennial rotational conferences of eastern African and international researchers working in various aspects of the Quaternary period in the region to share research results and deliberate on various issues of Quaternary sciences research. The first three conferences of the Association were held in 2007, 2009 and 2011 in Kampala (Uganda), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Zanzibar (Tanzania), respectively. The conferences were aimed at bringing together eastern African Quaternary researchers together with their international counterparts to promote collaborative research and exchange of research results. (click here to read more)