Skip to main content

Trade and society on the south-east African coast in the later first millennium AD: the case of Chibuene

  • Paul Sinclair (a1), Anneli Ekblom (a1) and Marilee Wood (a1)

The south-east coast of Africa in the later first millennium was busy with boats and the movement of goods from across the Indian Ocean to the interior. The landing places were crucial mediators in this process, in Africa as elsewhere. Investigations at the beach site of Chibuene show that a local community was supplying imported beads to such interior sites as Schroda, with the consequent emergence there of hierarchical power structures.

Hide All
Beach, D. 1980. The Shona and Zimbabwe, 900–1850: an outline of Shona history. Gweru: Mambo.
Beach, D. 1998. Cognitive archaeology and imaginary history at Great Zimbabwe. Current Anthropology 39(1): 4772.
Blanton, R.E., Feinman, G.M., Kowalewski, S.A. & Peregrin, P.N.. 1996. A dual processual theory for the evolution of Mesoamerican civilization. Current Anthropology 37(1): 114.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2009. Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 51: 337–60.
Calabrese, J.A. 2000. Interregional interaction in southern Africa: Zhizo and Leopard's Kopje relations in northern South Africa, southwestern Zimbabwe, and eastern Botswana, AD 1000 to 1200. African Archaeological Review 17(4): 183210.
Chami, F. 1994. The Tanzanian coast in the early first millennium AD: an archaeology of the ironworking, farming communities. Uppsala: Societas Archaeologica Uppsaliensis.
Chami, F. 1998. A review of Swahili archaeology. African Archaeological Review 15(3): 199218.
Chami, F., Sinclair, P.J.J., Nordström, H.å. & Knutsson, K.. 2003. New evidence for early trade between Africa and South Asia. Paper presented at the international symposium: Archaeology of the Earliest Northeastern Africa, Poznan Archaeological Museum, July 2003.
Chittick, N. 1974. Kilwa: an Islamic trading city on the east African coast. Nairobi: British Institute in Eastern Africa.
Crumley, C. 1987. A dialectical critique of hierarchy, in Patterson, T.C. & Ward, C. Gailey (ed.) Power relations and state formation: 155–68. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association.
Crumley, C. 1995. Heterarchy And The Analysis Of Complex Societies, In Ehrenreich, R.M., Crumley, C.L. & Levy, J.E. (ed.) Heterarchy and the analysis of complex societies: 15. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association.
Crumley, C. 2009. Notes On A New Paradigm, In Kohring, W. & Wynne-Jones, S. (ed.) Socialising complexity: structure, interaction and power in archaeological discourse: 3036. Oxford: Oxbow.
Cruz Da Silva, T. 1976. A preliminary report on an early Iron Age site: Matola IV 1/68, in Morais, J., Cruz de Silva, T., Mart´ınez, J.C.S. & Duarte, R.T. (ed.) Iron Age research in Mozambique: collected preliminary results: report 2. Maputo: Centro de Estudos Africanos, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane.
Denbow, J. 1984. Cows and kings: a spatial and economic analysis of hierarchical early Iron Age settlement systems in eastern Botswana, in Hall, M. (ed.) Frontiers: southern African archaeology today (British Archaeological Reports international series 207): 2439. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.
Duarte, R. 1995. Northern Mozambique in the Swahili world. Stockholm: Central Board of National Antiquities.
Ekblom, A. 2004. Changing landscapes: an environmental history of Chibuene, southern Mozambique. Uppsala: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
Ekblom, A. 2008. Forest-savanna dynamics in the coastal lowland of southern Mozambique, c. AD 400. The Holocene 18: 1247–57.
Feinman, G.M. 2012. Comparative frames for the diachronic analysis of complex societies: next steps, in Smith, M.B. (ed.) The comparative archaeology of complex societies. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Fleisher, J. 2010. Rituals of consumption and the politics of feasting on the eastern African coast, AD 700-1500. Journal of World Prehistory 23: 195217.
Fleisher, J. & Wynne-Jones, S.. 2010. Authorisation and the process of power: the view from African archaeology. Journal of World Prehistory 23: 177–93.
Fleisher, J. 2011. Ceramics and the early Swahili: deconstructing the early Tana tradition. African Archaeological Review 28: 245–48.
Freeman-Grenville, G.S.P. 1962. The east African coast: selected documents from the first to the earlier nineteenth century. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Friedman, J. & Rowlands, M.J.. 1977. Notes towards and epigenetic model of the evolution of civilisation, in Friedman, J. & Rowlands, M.J. (ed.) The evolution of social systems: 201–78. London: Duckworth.
Hall, M. 1990. Farmers, kings and traders: the people of southern Africa 200–1860. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hanisch, E.O.M. 1980. An archaeological interpretation of certain Iron Age sites in the Limpopo/Shashi Valley. Unpublished MA dissertation. University of Pretoria.
Hanisch, E.O.M. 1981. Schroda: a Zhizo site in the northern Transvaal, in Voigt, E. (ed.) Guide to archaeological sites in the northern and eastern Transvaal: 3753. Pretoria: South African Association of Archaeologists.
Hanisch, E.O.M. 2002. Schroda: the archaeological evidence, in Van Schalkwyk, J.A. & Hanisch, E.O.M. (ed.) Sculptured in clay: Iron Age figurines from Schroda, Limpopo Province, South Africa: 2139. Pretoria: National Cultural History Museum.
Horton, M. 1996. Shanga: the archaeology of a Muslim trading community on the coast of east Africa. London: British Institute in Eastern Africa.
Huffman, T.N. 2000. Mapungubwe and the origins of the Zimbabwe culture. South African Archaeological Society Goodwin Series 8: 1429.
Huffman, T.N. 2007. Handbook to the Iron Age: the archaeology of pre-colonial farming societies in Southern Africa. Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.
Huffman, T.N. 2009. Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe: the origin and spread of social complexity in southern Africa. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28: 3754.
Huffman, T.N. 2010. State formation in southern Africa: a reply to Kim and Kusimba. African Archaeological Review 27: 111
Juma, A. 1996a. The Swahili and the Mediterranean worlds: pottery from the late Roman period from Zanzibar. Antiquity 70: 148–54.
Juma, A. 1996b. Unguja Ukuu on Zanzibar: an archaeological study of early urbanism. Uppsala: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
Kim, N.C. & Kusimba, C.M.. 2008. Pathways to complexity and state formation in the southern Zambesian region. African Archaeological Review 25: 131–52.
Kusimba, C.M. 1999. The rise and fall of Swahili states. Walnut Creek (CA): AltaMira.
Laviolette, A. & Fleisher, J.. 2005. The archaeology of sub-Saharan urbanism: cities and their countrysides, in Stahl, A.B. (ed.) African archaeology: a critical introduction: 327–52. Oxford: Blackwell.
Manyanga, M. 2006. Resillient landscapes: socioenvironmental dynamics in the Shashi-Limpopo Basin, Southern Zimbabwe c. AD 800. Uppsala: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
Mccormack, F.G., Hogg, A.G., Blackwell, P.G., Buck, C.E., Higham, T.F.G. & Reimer, P.J.. 2004. SHCal04 southern hemisphere calibration, 0-11.0 cal kyr BP. Radiocarbon 46: 1087–92.
Mcintosh, S.K. 1999. Pathways to complexity: an African perspective, in Mcintosh, S.K. (ed.). Beyond chiefdoms: pathways to complexity in Africa: 130. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mcintosh, R.J. 2005. Ancient middle Niger: urbanism and the self-organizing landscape (Case studies in early societies 7). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Meyer, A. 1998. The archaeological sites of Greefswald: stratigraphy and chronology of the sites and a history of investigations. Pretoria: University of Pretoria.
Mitchell, P. 2002. The archaeology of southern Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University press.
Morais, J. 1988. The early farming communities of southern Mozambique. Stockholm: Central Board of National Antiquities.
Plug, I. 2000. Overview of Iron Age fauna from the Limpopo Valley. South African Archaeological Society Goodwin Series 8: 117–26.
Pwiti, G. 1991. Trade and economies in southern Africa: the archaeological evidence. Zambesia 18: 119–29.
Pwiti, G. 1996. Continuity and change: an archaeological study of farming communities in northern Zimbabwe AD 1500-1700. Uppsala: Societas Archaeologica Uppsaliensis.
Pwiti, G. 2005. Southern Africa and the east African coast, in Stahl, A.B. (ed.) African archaeology: a critical introduction: 378–91. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ramsay, P.J. & Cooper, J.A.G. 2002, Late Quaternary sea-level change in South Africa. Quaternary Research 57: 8290.
Robertshaw, P.M. 2003. Explaining the origins of the state in east Africa, in Kusimba, C.M. & Kusimba, S.B. (ed.). East African archaeology: foragers, potters, smiths and traders: 149–66. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Robertshaw, P., Wood, M., Melchiorre, E., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. & Glascock, M.D.. 2010. Southern African glass beads: chemistry, glass sources and patterns of trade. Journal of Archaeological Science 30: 18981912.
Shepherd, G. 1982. The making of the Swahili: a view from the southern end of the east African coast. Paideuma 28: 129–48.
1982. Chibuene an early trading site in southern Mozambique. Paideuma 28: 4964.
Sinclair, P.J.J. 1987. Space, time and social formation: a territorial approach to the archaeology and anthropology of Zimbabwe and Mozambique c. 0-1700 AD. Uppsala: Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis.
Sinclair, P.J.J. 1995. The origins of urbanism in eastern and southern Africa: a diachronic perspective, in Sahlström, B. & ådal, K. (ed.) Islamic art and culture in Africa: 99110. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.
Sinclair, P.J.J. 2007. What is the archaeological evidence for external trading contacts on the east African coast in the first millennium AD?, in Starkey, J., Starkey, P. & Wilkinson, T. (ed.). Natural resources and cultural connections of the Red Sea (British Archaeological Reports international series 1661). Oxford: Archaeopress.
Sinclair, P.J.J. & Ekblom, A.. 2004. Excavation report, Chibuene excavations 1995-1999. Unpublished report, Uppsala.
Sinclair, P.J.J. & HåAkansson, T.. 2000. The Swahili city state culture, in Hansen, M. (ed.) Comparative study of thirty city-state cultures: 461–82. London: Routledge.
Sinclair, P., Morais, J., Adamowitz, L. & Duarte, R.. 1993. A perspective on archaeological research in Mozambique, in Shaw, T., Sinclair, P.J.J., Andah, B. & Okpoko, A. (ed.) The archaeology of Africa: foods, metals, and towns: 409–31. London: Routledge.
SindbÆk, S.M. 2007. Networks and nodal points: the emergence of towns in early Viking Age Scandinavia. Antiquity 81: 119–32.
Smith, A.D. 2003. Political landscape: constellations of authority in early complex polities. Ewing: University of California Press.
Smith, M.C. & Wright, H.T.. 1988. The ceramics from Ras Hafun in Somalia: notes on a Classical maritime site. Azania 23: 115–41.
Spear, T. 2000. Early Swahili history reconsidered. The Inter ational Journal of African Historical Studies 33: 257–90.
Theal, G. 1964. Records of southeastern Africa. Cape Town: C. Struik Ltd.
Wood, M. 2000. Making connections: relationships between international trade and glass beads from the Shashe-Limpopo area, in Lesley, M. & Maggs, T. (ed.) African naissance: the Limpopo Valley 1000 years ago (Goodwin Series 8): 7890. Vlaeberg: South African Archaeological Society.
Wood, M. 2012. Interconnections: glass beads and trade in southern and eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean, 7th to 16th centuries AD. Uppsala: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
Wood, M., Dussubieux, L. & Robertshaw, P.. In press. Glass finds from Chibuene, a 6th to 17th century AD port in southern Mozambique. South African Archaeological Bulletin.
Wynne-Jones, S. & Kohring, S.. 2009. Socialising complexity, in Kohring, S. & Wynne-Jones, S. (ed.) Socialising complexity: structure, interaction and power in archaeological discourse: 212. Oxford: Oxbow.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Related content

Powered by UNSILO


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed