Sites & cities that bear the name of Kilwa Kisiwani

Kilwa Kisiwani

Today in : Tanzania, United Republic of
First trace of activity : ca. 8th century C.E
Last trace of activity : 1840 C.E

Description : Kilwa Kisiwani is a community on an Indian Ocean island off the southern coast of present-day Tanzania in eastern Africa. Historically, it was the center of the Kilwa Sultanate, a medieval sultanate whose authority at its height in the 13th-15th centuries stretched the entire length of the Swahili Coast. Kilwa Kisiwani has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the nearby stonetown Songo Mnara. Kilwa Kisiwani is an archaeological city-state site located along the Swahili Coast on the Kilwa archipelago. It was occupied from at least the 8th century CE and became one of the most powerful settlements along the coast. The seasonal wind reversals would affect trade circulations. Trade connections with the Arabian Peninsula as well as India and China influenced the growth and development of Kilwa, and, though there are Islamic words and customs that have been adapted to the culture, the origins are African. Many of the Swahili settlements showed complex layouts that reflected social relations between groups, however at Kilwa, there are many questions still left unanswered about the town layout. The cemeteries were located on the edge of the town, which was common for the region, and large, open spaces were likely used for social gatherings. An important city for trade, around the 13th century there were increased fortifications and a greater flow of goods. For these to take place, there would need to be a form of political administration overseeing the city, controlling the movement of goods. Much of the trade networks was with the Arabian peninsula. Kilwa Kisiwani reached its highest point in wealth and commerce between 13th and 15th centuries CE.

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