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Re-dating the Ingombe Ilede burials

  • Susan Keech McIntosh (a1) and Brian M. Fagan (a2)

Several burials excavated during 1960 at Ingombe Ilede in southern Africa were accompanied by exceptional quantities of gold and glass beads, bronze trade wire and bangles. The burials were indirectly dated to the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries AD, prior to the arrival of the Portuguese on the East Coast of Africa. New AMS dates on cotton fabric from two of the burials now relocate them in the sixteenth century. This was a dynamic period when the Portuguese were establishing market settlements along the Zambezi, generating new demands for trade products from the interior, and establishing trade networks with the Mwene Mutapa confederacy. These new dates invite a reconsideration of Ingombe Ilede's relationship to Swahili and Portuguese trade in the middle Zambezi. This article is followed by four responses and a final comment by the authors.

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