Jeff Fleisher

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Rice University

"The Archaeology of the Ancient Swahili: Trade, Islam, and Indian Ocean World"

Thursday March 7, 2013
11:00 am – DeBartolo Hall Room 244

Cosponsored with the Department of Anthropology

The ancient Swahili of the eastern African coast—from southern Somalia to Mozambique—have been long recognized as an Islamic, mercantile society that negotiated the trade between the African continent and the Indian Ocean world.  Recent archaeological research has begun to explore the African roots of this complex society, showing the deep connections the Swahili built with long distance traders in the Indian Ocean, their early adoption of Islam, and the means through which coastal settlements grew into cosmopolitan cities boasting elaborate mosques, tombs and palaces.  The archaeology of the ancient Swahili is a crucial part of establishing complex histories on a continent that is often thought lacking them.