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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Early Islam, Oceanic Trade and Town Development on Nzwani: The Comorian Archipelago in the XIth-XVth Centuries AD
Author:Wright, Henry T.
Periodical:Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa
Notes:biblio. refs., ills.
Geographic terms:Comoros
Indian Ocean islands
economic history
Anthropology and Archaeology
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History, Archaeology
urban development
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00672709209511432
Abstract:This paper evaluates the relations between the demographic expansion of towns, changing patterns of agricultural subsistence, increase in the import of manufactures from the metropolitan centres of the Near and Far East, and the elaboration of Islam as the central element in community life. The case discussed is that of the Comoro Islands during the XIth to XVth centuries AD. After a brief history of archaeological endeavour on Nzwani, the complex stratigraphies around two of the earliest known mosques, at Sima and Domoni, are examined. Excavations at these mosques provide the chronological understanding of local ceramics with which other sites can be dated. Contributions by L.W. Johnson (The plant remains), R.W. Redding (The vertebrate remains) and J.E. Knudstad (The early mosques at Sima and Domoni), as well as a section on settlement patterns complete the information. The initial settlements on Nzwani grew in the period under consideration, and long-range trade continued. Central mosques were first constructed in the towns of Sima and Domoni during the XI-XIIth centuries. These were reconstructed on a larger scale in the XIIIth century, and replaced by smaller but more elaborate ones in the XIVth or XVth centuries. It is concluded that the development of central Islamic institutions seems to have been linked to local social and political growth, rather than to an increase in the importance of trade with Muslim merchants. Bibliogr.