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Economic Changes through Time along the Tanzanian Swahili Coast, as Seen through the Examination of Non-Ferrous Metals and Metallurgical Technologies

Author(s): Thomas Fenn ; Jeffrey Fleischer ; Stephanie Wynne-Jones ; Edward Pollard ; Tom Fitton

Year: 2016

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Summary

Historic Swahili towns along the East African coast played prominent roles in the triangular Indian Ocean maritime trade linking East Africa with India and the Persian Gulf/Red Sea, but their impact and the extent of economic changes through time at these towns are still poorly understood. Examining non-ferrous metals, many of which were imported and reworked locally, can serve as a proxy to understand the impact of Indian Ocean trade on local economies, particularly with regard to the consumption of semi-exotic materials and finished goods. Copper-based metals were relatively commonly imported, but they also were locally worked and some even may have been produced locally or regionally. Therefore, studying these metals and their metallurgy from Swahili sites in Tanzania can provide insights into socio-economic aspects such as organization of production and workshops, consumptions patterns as well as networks connecting these sites to the hinterland and the Indian Ocean economic community. To that end, copper-based metals were examined from several Swahili archaeological contexts along the Tanzanian coast dating from the 7th cent. CE to 16th cent. CE. Results of chemical and isotopic analyses identified imported metals from multiple locations, while discussion of potential indigenous metal production also is presented.


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Economic Changes through Time along the Tanzanian Swahili Coast, as Seen through the Examination of Non-Ferrous Metals and Metallurgical Technologies. Thomas Fenn, Jeffrey Fleischer, Stephanie Wynne-Jones, Edward Pollard, Tom Fitton. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405305)


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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