Mortuary Archaeology of Burials from Two Swahili Stone Towns, Mtwapa and Manda, Dated to Circa 1600 CE.


Two ancient Kenyan Swahili sites were excavated over the course of five field seasons, from 2008-2012. Mtwapa (ca. 1000-1750 CE), located on the southern coast of Kenya, and Manda (ca. 800-1600 CE), located on the Northern coast, were once wealthy cosmopolitan polities involved in the Indian Ocean trade network. Both towns had populations of 5,000-10,000 at their height of occupation, and contained large central mosques.

Mtwapa excavations occurred between 2008 and 2011 and produced a minimum of 87 individuals buried across 13 crypts in the cemetery located next to the central mosque, with an average of 7 individuals per crypt. 18 individuals were C14 dated to circa 1647 CE. Crypts contained both men and women, as well as children, and all individuals uncovered were lain on their right side, extended, facing mecca.

Excavations at Manda began in December 2012, with a total of 19 individuals being exhumed (13 complete burials, 6 partial remains in fill). Five individuals produced C14 dates that clustered to circa 1612, and one individual was interred circa 1285. Burial orientation for all individuals was similar to that observed at Mtwapa, however burial organization was more variable.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Mortuary Archaeology of Burials from Two Swahili Stone Towns, Mtwapa and Manda, Dated to Circa 1600 CE.. Lindsey Proctor, Chapurukha Kusimba, Janet Monge, Muhammad Mchula, Sloan Williams. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398207)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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