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Mcintosh ; R.


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Mcin- tosh The Mclntoshs' model reaches beyond strictly archaeological data for the kinds of cognitive systems that might have spawned such an urban form and then held it together. They see in the region's current, complex ethnographic and linguistic make-up, its multiple, carefully maintained strategies of sharing power among ethnic and other corporate groups, and its widespread oral traditions con- cerning the deep histories of these and other relationships, possible homologs for the origins of the ancient clustering seen archaeologically R. Mcintosh ; Chapter The western Sudan produced societies contemporary with that at Jenne-jeno which did not seem to share the heterarchical ideology implied by urban cluster- ing.

For example, the states and eventual empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, better known from Arabic documentary sources than from archaeological ones, were described as ruled by kings of great power and wealth Delafosse Although the purported capitals and some major towns of these states were exca- vated before the s de Barros , archaeologists did not excavate below the Islamic levels, such that knowledge of the setdements' earliest manifesta- tions remains elusive but see Arazi ; Insoll ; and S.

Mcintosh for relevant work which goes beyond archaeological validation of Islamic documents. For the moment, the urban clusters identified archaeologically in the IND region are striking in their scale and longevity, and yet have no archaeologically recovered manifestations of hierarchical wealth and control. Here researchers have provided evidence of a particular form of urbanism, one which questions the validity of using traits like monumental public architecture R.

Mcintosh , centralization of craft production LaViolette a; R, Mcintosh , hierarchical stratification or ranking, and subsistence intensification S. Mcintosh a, b as definitive indicators of city life. Sinclair It and other major centers of the Zimbabwe plateau region - Mapungubwe before it, Khami, Torwa, and Mutapa after - have been considered major centers, even capitals, of chiefdoms or states, prime movers in cycles of state formation since European attention was drawn to them in the early 20th century Chapter Pikirayi ; Sinclair et al.

States, and certainly chiefdoms, can exist without urban centers see e. Wright , and the polities on the Zimbabwe plateau, however extensive, need not have had urban centers in their hierarchical structures - but it is a question that begs to be explored further. Sophisticated research on the nature of the larger polities has indeed taken place.

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While undertaking archaeological investigations of Great Zimbabwe's origins in the s, Caton-Thompson conducted excavations at smaller, Zimbabwe Tradition stone settlements up to several hundred kilometers from Great Zimbabwe that she posited were regional centers under the capital's rule.

The defining archae- ological characteristic of the Zimbabwe Tradition, centered on the plateau, was its curvilinear granite-block architecture whose origins are in first-millennium a.


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This stone architecture, identified at some sites based on surface remains Kuklick , suggests the probable extent of the Zimbabwe Tradition polities. The earlier architecture is curvilinear but made from coursed earth or daga Hall Although building in stone gained momentum in the late first, early second millennium a.

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Sinclair , it never replaced daga as the architecture of the majority. Daga is important to our discussion, because the archaeology of stone architecture greatly outpaced that of daga buildings and settlements. This has affected how archaeologists talk about the function of larger centers and their local contexts. Mapungubwe is considered the first capital - and implicitly perhaps the first urban center - of the Zimbabwe Tradition polities and the immediate predecessor to Great Zimbabwe.

Located in the Limpopo Valley, and dated to the llthth centuries a. Pikirayi , most excavation has focused on the stone structures of the elite tradition built into the rocky hilltop. Yet the greater part of the settle- ment comprises daga buildings around the base of the hill which remain unexca- vated Hall Huffman and others conducted research at several smaller stone-built settlementsijn the region, at distances of 10,40, and 85 km away, which allowed them to posit Mapungubwe as the center of a hierarchical system of settlements organized along state lines.

Evidence suggests that Mapungubwe played a role in extensive economic networks which existed before the town's own rise Chapter One of the truisms about Zimbabwe Tradition polities is that at any time there was but one capital and a series of lower-echelon settlements.

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This is consistent with conceptualizing the major sites as state centers rather than as cities per se. Great Zimbabwe, km north, replaced Mapungubwe as the capital, dominating the Zimbabwe plateau politically from the later 13th century until its decline by the early 15th century Pikirayi The scale and number of stone structures at Great Zimbabwe was vast, making it the largest ever of the Zimbabwe Tradition centers and one of the largest precolonial settlements in sub-Saharan Africa. Perimeter though not defensive walls were constructed at leatt twice during the settlement's history Garlake ; Pikirayi A tradi- tion of carved stone sculptures combining human and animal features, mounted at various locations around the site and echoed in a tradition of monolithic rough stone spires, has been interpreted as relating to leadership and ancestral power Huffinan , ; Matenga Daga houses sit amidst the stone walling on the hilltop and below, and surface survey and sub-surface testing reveal extensive daga housing in large expanses without stone.

Archaeological research suggests class differences can be discerned among these daga houses, in greater spacing between structures inside the enclo- sures than those outside, and greater material consumption inside as well Thorp ; see e. Daga structures took up an area many times that of the stone precincts, allowing suggested population figures for the entire center hectares at its maximum size of 10,, Pikirayi ; Sinclair ; Sinclair et al.

Great Zimbabwe has scale, monumental public architecture, long-distance trade relations with the Swahili coast, elite residences, sculptural traditions related to spiritual power, and was apparently the capital of an ancient state.

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It is a polity that has been used to invigorate nationalist ideology in a modern African nation perhaps more than any other example in Africa see Kuklick What can we posit about Great Zimbabwe according to our functionalist defin- itions? Archaeologists have hypothesized three prime functions for the settlement - management of long-distance trade, administration of local production, and a role as a religious center see Sinclair ff.

Evidence for Great Zimbabwe's role in trade, particularly with the Swahili world, is seen in nearby gold and copper mining presumed to be under the center's control, the presence of copper ingots at the site, and in the imported goods obtained from contact with the coast Huffman ; Sinclair et al. Imports have also been found at some smaller centers e. Domestic economy was based heavily on catde transhumance, agriculture, and mining of stone and ores Hall ; Sinclair et al. The site has long been seen as having religious significance as well, as it symbolizes physically the state's guiding spiritual ideologies Garlake ; Huffinan ; Pikirayi All of these functions could certainly have been at work; expectations are that Great Zimbabwe also functioned as a political and administrative center for a large network of smaller regional polities of the Zimbabwe Tradition.

Sinclair et al. They would need to target daga settlements and daga portions of stone settlements in order to speak to issues of urbanism. Strictly economic models for the site will probably never suffice to tell its full story. For example, Huffinan's analysis of the function of the Great Enclosure as a ritual center, where state ideologies based on such qual- ities as gender and age were reproduced through the regular teaching of young women from the countryside, is evocative, although his dependence on ethnohis- torical evidence and oral traditions has been considered too uncritical by some Beach ; Pikirayi ; Chapter 2.

Zimbabwe's current political and eco- nomic crises have curtailed the pace of research; however, with the ongoing com- mitment of the modern state to its past, details about Zimbabwe urbanism are hopefully not far out of reach. The Swahili coast The Swahili coast encompasses the narrow coastline and offshore islands stretch- ing 2, km from Somalia to Mozambique, including northern Madagascar, and the Comoro and Zanzibar archipelagos.

African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction

We find here the remains of towns and vil- lages dated from the eighth to 18th centuries A. Figure Many of these sites, called stonetowns, have standing mortared-limestone ruins of mosques, elab- orate above-ground tombs, multi-storied domestic structures, and, in some cases, town walls. Such abandoned settlements have extensive scatters of locally made artifacts, as well as imported ceramics, glass, beads and other objects from as far as Egypt and southern and eastern Asia, that suggest the stonetowns were at their efflorescence from the 13th to 15th centuries A.

Through archaeological and historical research, and analogies drawn from descendant populations Middleton , ; Prins , scholars commonly argue that Swahili stonetowns functioned as economic centers e. The acceptance of stonetowns as urban centers during the late s and early s must be understood in relation to a changing political climate. Scholars in newly indepen- dent eastern African nations were interested in foregrounding the richness of their nation's prehistory and reasserting the greatness of the precolonial past.

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Research on Swahili followed suit, and many researchers rejected what became a colonial model of Swahili origins, whereby Arab colonists were thought to have founded, built, and controlled coastal towns, beginning in the tenth century A. More recently, Swahili urban development has been attributed to the increasing participation of some coastal dwellers in long-distance trade during the ninth to 11th centuries, who later became "middlemen elites," managing commerce and local production for the Indian Ocean trade system. In this view, the main function of Swahili stonetowns was brokering long-distance trade between distant African hinterlands, the surrounding countrysides, and far-flung ports on the Indian Ocean rim.

Although other stonetown roles are imagined, such as providing locales for Islamic education and religious ritual, control over the political economy has been viewed as their primary function. This model portrays Swahili middlemen merchants coordinating and controlling trade relations with four groups of people: merchants of their fellow sub-clan; over- seas traders; trade partners in the coastal hinterland; and rural populations in the surrounding countrysides Horton and Middleton , Based on exca- vations and ethnohistoric research on parricular stonetowns, we have learned much about the first two socio-economic relationships, and we have a clearer picture of the integral connections between stonetowns and the hinterland areas behind the coastal corridor Abungu and Mutoro ; Curtis andWalz ; Helm ; Kusimba and Kusimba ; D.

However, as the image of Swahili society has built steadily out from the towns, we have only begun to know about rural Swahili e. Villages have been portrayed as part of the agri- cultural and productive economy that supported and allowed for the extension of city-based elite activities Kusimba ;Wilson ; H. Although some attributes of urbanism - stonetowns with multiple economic classes, power- ful merchants alongside political rulers, and centralized religious rituals - are evident from research at these sites, the relationship between cities and their sur- rounding communities has been largely presumed rather than tested.

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Swahili stonetowns included populations regularly in excess of 5,, with a number of centers such as Kilwa and Mombasa larger than 15, Many north- ern stonetowns were surrounded by town walls Takwa, Pate, Gede , representing either real protective features or symbolic markers that denned "cultured" spaces. All stonetowns contained elite architecture and mosques, as well as unique pillar tombs commemorating political and religious figures. Beginning in the 12th century, these striking features dominated many towns on the northern Swahili coast north of the current Tanzania-Kenya border.

In contrast, most towns on the southern coast contained few stone buildings that were scattered among much larger earth-and-thatch neighborhoods. These distinctions may have much to do with the way power was negotiated by town-based elites. Towns with large, dense stone sectors surrounded by small wattle-and-daub neighborhoods may have been structured around a more horizontally differentiated power base, with numerous leaders merchant, religious, political vying for position of "first among equals.

Most researchers agree that long-distance trade was a crucial factor in the development of Swahili urban centers Horton ; Horton and Middleton ; Kusimba ; Spear , and that stonetowns were not bound together in an integrated state system Horton and Middleton ; H. However, there are at least three models for the development of Swahili urban centers, each representing distinctive ideas about how trade and regional development led to urban forms.

The first argues that Swahili stonetowns developed to administer a complex settlement hierarchy of functional centers, and produce goods crucial for long-distance trade Kusimba And the third argues that such centers formed due to competitive relationships between coastal elites, who melded the commu- nity ritual of Islam with the power of exotic goods to create centers of power and authority H. In each model, the city is a functional center that con- trolled either territory, production, and markets or ritual life. Kusimba argued that Swahili stonetowns managed economic relationships between town and country, and that agricultural goods, raw materi- als, and finished products came from countrysides to support stonetown dwellers.

Stonetown elites thus sat atop a settlement hierarchy, managing a system of small towns and villages to create an efficient network for the movement of goods. This regional picture, developed from Wilson's study of settlement patterns along the Kenyan coast, is similar to that of settlement hierarchies in other urbanized state societies Marcus and Feinman ; Wright and Johnson Sinclair and Hakansson have presented the clearest argument for view- ing stonetowns as city-states or mercantile cities also Horton ; Horton and Middleton It is from such data that we draw a binary image of Swahili regions composed of "stonetowns" and "country-towns.

Country-towns were relatively self-sufficient, in contrast to stonetowns, dependent on goods produced in villages and other stonetowns Middleton ; also Kusimba , In exchange for these goods, country-town residents received other products from hinterland and overseas ports, and military protec- tion. In this view, supra-local interactions were key to Swahili stonetowns, as found in other city-state systems, and the stonetowns were not administrative but market and production centers Horton If such ethnographic and ethnohistoric descriptions of town-country relationships are an accurate representation of ancient ones, then the economic organization of Swahili stonetowns functioned in ways quite similar to mercantile cities or city-states Fox ff; Nichols and Charleton ;Trigger That surplus goods moved from rural communities to stonetowns through trade rather than taxation indicates the relative economic autonomy of the countrysides.