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The Fortified Settlement of Pujini and Implications for a Swahili Urban Landscape

Author(s): Adria LaViolette

Year: 2015

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Summary

During its lifespan from the mid-fifteenth to early sixteenth century AD, the fortified settlement of Pujini shared Pemba Island, Tanzania with numerous, undefended, more typical Swahili settlements ranging from earth-and-thatch hamlets to stone-built urban centers. The site expresses a unique combination of qualities on the Eastern African coast: complex ramparts around nearly two hectares of space, in which stood some dozen domestic and special-purpose features. Archaeological evidence from the site shows that its builders invoked multiple architectural tropes used widely in Swahili stonehouses and stonetowns, markers of Swahili urbanism and cosmopolitanism. This paper provides an analysis of the archaeology of this settlement through identifying a series of nested socially constructed contexts, from the most intimate spaces in building interiors outward to the Swahili coast itself. I argue that the combination of qualities that makes the fortified site appear singular can also be used to illuminate meaningful networks of social, economic, and political interactions and tensions: locally, in the urban landscape of Pemba Island, and in the tumultuous Swahili world of the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries that includes early incursions of Portuguese sailors, merchants, and soldiers into the region.

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The Fortified Settlement of Pujini and Implications for a Swahili Urban Landscape. Adria LaViolette. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396198)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
AFRICA


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America