By Stephanie Wynne-Jones
A fabric Culture makes a speciality of items in Swahili society during the elaboration of an strategy that sees either humans and issues as stuck up in webs of mutual interplay. It accordingly presents either a brand new theoretical intervention in many of the key issues in fabric tradition stories, together with the organization of items and the methods they have been associated with social identities, in the course of the improvement of the inspiration of a biography of perform.
These theoretical discussions are explored during the archaeology of the Swahili, at the Indian Ocean coast of japanese Africa. This coast used to be domestic to a sequence of "stonetowns" (containing coral structure) from the 9th century advert onwards, of which Kilwa Kisiwani is the main well-known, thought of the following in neighborhood context. those stonetowns have been deeply thinking about maritime exchange, conducted between a various, Islamic population.
This ebook means that the Swahili are a highly-significant case learn for exploration of the connection among items and other people long ago, because the society was once constituted and outlined via a specific fabric atmosphere. extra, it is strongly recommended that this dating used to be subtly assorted than in different parts, and especially from western versions that dominate winning research. The case is made for another type of materiality, maybe universal to the broader Indian Ocean global, with an emphasis on redistribution and flow instead of at the accumulation of wealth. The reader will for that reason achieve familiarity with a little-known and engaging tradition, in addition to appreciating the ways in which non-western examples can upload to our theoretical models.
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Additional resources for A material culture : consumption and materiality on the coast of precolonial east Africa
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 consider archaeological data from the sites of Kilwa Kisiwani, Vumba Kuu, and from the caravan routes into the interior of Tanzania. For Kilwa, these data refer to the position of a developing Swahili town within its broader region, and highlight the very particular material setting that was created by the urban residents. Through trade, and the management of access to exotic objects, the elite of Kilwa created a singular form of urbanism that differed substantively from nearby settlements.
The evolution of coastal settlement is not the primary focus of the current volume, which does not, therefore, propose a new developmental chronology. Herein, instead, is an exploration of the qualities of interaction with the material world that seem to have characterized the precolonial coast. As becomes clear in Chapter 2, there are some broad categories within which these become apparent, each with a particular flavour to the overall assemblage and material setting. Early archaeologies were concerned particularly with the period of stone building, which dates from only the eleventh century onwards (Chittick 1974, 1984; Kirkman 1964).
Excavations conducted by Mark Horton (Horton 1984, 1987a, 1996) were geared towards the discussion of Swahili origins, and yet his detailed stratigraphic investigations of the development of the town have provided a wealth of evidence on all aspects of coastal life. Like Kilwa, the town of Shanga developed from a smaller settlement of earth and thatch architecture to become a stone town; but the gradual evolution of the architecture is demonstrated in much clearer detail at this site. From eighth-century foundations, Horton uncovered a sequence involving multiple rebuildings of houses and public structures, first in earth and thatch, then in porites set in a mud mortar, and finally in the coral and lime architecture in which the standing remains are built.