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Early Muslim Trading Settlements on the East African Coast: New Evidence from Shanga

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2011

Extract

Much archaeological and historical research has recently been devoted to the study of the early Swahili communities inhabiting the East African coast during the late first millennium a.d. The practice of Islam can be shown to date back to perhaps the beginning of the ninth century from when the first mosques have been excavated. The economic importance of East Africa for the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean world is apparent from the wealth of imports and exports found in a large number of these coastal sites. African trading systems brought to medieval society high-value commodities ranging from gold, rock crystal and ivory, to slaves and timber. The items were carried across large distances sea by traders following the seasonal monsoon system around the coasts and across the Indian Ocean. is argued that the trading settlements were African in culture and origin, but then attracted Muslims who were responsible for occasional local converts from a very early period in the history of Islam.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Society of Antiquaries of London 1987

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