Geophysical Survey at Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Department of Anthropology, Rice University
  • 2 Department of Archaeology, University of York
  • 3 Bournemouth University, Archaeology Group, School of Applied Sciences
  • 4 Bournemouth University, Archaeology Group, School of Applied Sciences

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Geophysical survey at Kilwa Kisiwani, southern Tanzania, has recovered evidence for several aspects of town layout and the use of space within the town that enhance our understandings of this important Swahili site. Although excavations in the 1960s recovered substantial monuments at this stonetown and traced a chronology for the development of the site from the eighth to the sixteenth centuries AD, the overall site layout has remained poorly understood. This paper outlines the possibilities that geophysics creates for positioning the excavations within a broader urban landscape, and reports on a preliminary season of survey at Kilwa. Two areas were the focus of fieldwork during 2011. First the main town centre was surveyed, and the results suggest a denser town plan of coral-built houses that have subsequently been robbed. Second, the enigmatic enclosure of Husuni Ndogo was explored, and revealed evidence for activity relating to metalworking in this monumental space.

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