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SEMINAR: Swahili social landscapes: a case study from northern Zanzibar,1000-1400 CE

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Today's date is Friday, March 05, 2021
Swahili social landscapes: a case study from northern Zanzibar,1000-1400 CE Other events...

The large group of people commonly known as the Swahili occupied an expansive stretch of coastline between Somalia and Mozambique from the 6th and 7th centuries CE, with early villages being built with wattle and daub while later settlements also included stone structures such as tombs, mosques, and private houses. Increased involvement in long-distance trade, urbanisation, and religious developments led to a gradually more hierarchical social structure in many Swahili societies, which included forced labour and servitude. In this research seminar, I will present some of the results from two archaeological field seasons in Tumbatu and Mkokotoni in north-western Zanzibar (Unguja) in Tanzania, and their relationship to my larger doctoral project at Uppsala University titled: “Swahili Social Landscapes - Material expressions of slavery, labour, and non-elite identity in pre-colonial Zanzibar”. The results from surveys and household excavations at both sites reveal that the two sites were closely connected, partially relying on each other for food and trade commodities, while simultaneously operating within larger regional and international networks of trade and communication. Although long believed to be an elite stone town, the data from Tumbatu is showing a settlement highly reliant on its neighbours and questions the assumed dichotomy between elite and non-elite inhabitants.

Biographical information

Henriette Rødland is an archaeologist and PhD student at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University, Sweden, where she has also been teaching undergraduate and postgraduate classes on heritage, slavery, and urbanisation. She has also been a visiting teacher at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She specialises in Swahili urban archaeology and the history and archaeology of slavery in East Africa, with a particular focus on the role of artefacts in reflecting, maintaining, and negotiating social identities and inequalities. Her research currently centres on northern Zanzibar, Tanzania, and two early second millennium urban sites that were well-connected to the Indian Ocean sphere of commerce. These relationships brought pottery, cloth, beads, and glass to East Africa, while timber, gold, ivory, and enslaved individuals were exported to other Indian Ocean ports. Henriette holds a BA from the University of York and an MA from the University of East Anglia (Sainsbury Research Unit), where her research focused on archaeological and historical approaches to slavery in West and East Africa.
Speaker(s) Henriette Rødland
Location UWA LAWS Lecture Room 1, G.31
Contact Martin Porr <[email protected]>
Start Thu, 12 Mar 2020 16:00
End Thu, 12 Mar 2020 17:00
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Last Updated Thu, 05 Mar 2020 10:17
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