Book Review This is a study of a geographically restricted, but culturally and architecturally fascinating, element of East Africa, i.e. the towns of the Swahili coast and especially those that lie in modern Tanzania. No such examination of pre-colonial urbanisation and its transformation under colonial authority can do other than embrace a strong maritime theme, so that this book is of particular interest to the maritime archaeologist as well as the student of colonial history and urban change. After providing the necessary background regarding the history of external contacts, pre-colonial urban systems are described in terms of their economy and geography (waterfronts, trade, markets and residential areas). Using 19th-century explorers' writings and First World War records, Rhodes provides many details of how boats travelled the Swahili coast, places they could land, and the dangers of particular harbours. These details are often the earliest known that reference sailing craft behaviour off the coast, in known harbours, and on sailing routes. This leads to insights on how harbours operated and changed as administrative arrangements and technological developments occurred during this period. The volume covers a period of extensive change in ports on the East African coast as steam power puffed
Journal of African Archaeology – Brill
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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