Coastal subsistence, maritime trade, and the colonization of small offshore islands in eastern African prehistory

Crowther, Alison, Faulkner, Patrick, Prendergast, Mary E., Quintana Morales, Eréndira M., Horton, Mark, Wilmsen, Edwin, Kotarba-Morley, Anna M., Christie, Annalisa, Petek, Nik, Tibesasa, Ruth, Douka, Katerina, Picornell-Gelabert, Llorenç, Carah, Xavier and Boivin, Nicole (2016) Coastal subsistence, maritime trade, and the colonization of small offshore islands in eastern African prehistory. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 11 (2). pp. 211-237. ISSN 1556-4894

[thumbnail of Manuscript]
PDF (Manuscript) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Recent archaeological research has firmly established eastern Africa's offshore islands as important localities for understanding the region's pre-Swahili maritime adaptations and early Indian Ocean trade connections. While the importance of the sea and small offshore islands to the development of urbanized and mercantile Swahili societies has long been recognized, the formative stages of island colonization—and in particular the processes by which migrating Iron Age groups essentially became “maritime”—are still relatively poorly understood. Here we present the results of recent archaeological fieldwork in the Mafia Archipelago, which aims to understand these early adaptations and situate them within a longer-term trajectory of island settlement and pre-Swahili cultural developments. We focus on the results of zooarchaeological, archaeobotanical, and material culture studies relating to early subsistence and trade on this island to explore the changing significance of marine resources to the local economy. We also discuss the implications of these maritime adaptations for the development of local and long-distance Indian Ocean trade networks.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way
Uncontrolled Keywords: fishing,iron age,late holocene,mafia archipelago,maritime adaptation,pre-swahili,sdg 14 - life below water ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/life_below_water
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Centres > Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2016 10:00
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2023 11:30
DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2016.1188334


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item