Early Exchange between Africa and the Wider Indian Ocean World

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This volume comprises a selection of essays by scholars from a variety of disciplines that discuss the exchange relationship between Africa and the wider Indian. Gwyn Campbell (ed.), Early Exchange Between Africa and the Wider Indian Ocean World. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan,

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Tell us if something is incorrect. Book Format: Choose an option. Product Highlights This volume comprises a selection of essays by scholars from a variety of disciplines that discuss the exchange relationship between Africa and the wider Indian Ocean world IOW , a macro-region running from East Africa to China, from early times to about CE.

The rationale for regarding this ma. And while the ends of Zhizo beads are left untreated, almost all of the drawn Zanzibar ones have been reheated in an unusual manner: they have been reheated on a flat surface, resulting in beads with one somewhat rounded end while the other is flat. The Unguja Ukuu examples are similar to beads found at the site of a 9th to 11th-century trading and beadmaking center on the southwest coast of Thailand, known as Thung Tuk 44 [but sometimes identified as Takua-Pa].

Francis 45 identified several bead types that might have been made at Thung Tuk which are similar to ones at Unguja Ukuu, including a type of eye bead known as a Takua Pa eye bead and cobalt blue beads with white stripes. Lankton and Dussubieux 48 record that both beads and raw glass of this type are found at many South and Southeast Asian sites and note that most of the beads are drawn, suggesting they were locally made and that much of the glass was imported in raw or cullet form to be used in beadmaking or sometimes for making bangles.

In either case, it is unlikely these islands acted as a transit point in the trade that brought glass beads to southern Africa. During this period, trade in the western Indian Ocean was dominated by the Persian Gulf region. This is the earliest evidence we have of the gold trade out of southern Africa. He also stated that Sofala was a commercial destination for ships from the Gulf region 61 and that voyages to Sofala continually increased in number owing to an increase in the demand for luxury goods at the Buyid court in Shiraz.

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So where could these beads, which were most likely made by Indian artisans using glass from the Iran—Iraq region and were then carried to southern Africa on ships from the Persian Gulf region, have been manufactured? The history of the port of Sohar, in Oman near the mouth of the Gulf, may provide clues. Tampoe 65 has noted that evidence of glassmaking was unearthed during excavations at Sohar, raising the possibility that Zhizo beads might have been made there; and if so, it is likely that South Asian artisans were there to produce them.

Another possible manufacturing site for Zhizo beads could be Banbhore at the mouth of the Indus.

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Chibuene lost its place as the major port of entry for the southern interior its successor has not been located , and Zhizo series beads disappeared. Concurrently, the volume of beads entering southern Africa increased dramatically. Beads from the Middle East but not necessarily from east of the Euphrates still formed part of the trade, but most beads belong to the East Coast Indo-Pacific series. However, unlike the south—where only drawn beads are found—large numbers of wound beads made of glass similar to that used to make the drawn beads form part of assemblages.

K2 Indo-Pacific beads are present in the north but only in small numbers.

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The differences in the distributions of the two Indo-Pacific series may indicate that the two ends of the coast were receiving beads from different regions of India via different trade routes—had they all come from the same source one would expect to find some wound beads in southern Africa. Kanungo 72 has pointed out that in India wound beads are mainly found at archaeological sites in the north, while small drawn beads are found in the south and the Deccan.

Thus, it is possible the East Coast was receiving beads shipped mainly from northern India, while those arriving in southern Africa may have come mostly from further south in India, possibly by a more southerly route. A detailed study, 77 which included chemical analysis, of of the beads concluded that the earliest beads to arrive at Mahilaka belong to the K2 Indo-Pacific series. Mapungubwe Oblate and Zimbabwe series beads are present but only in small numbers.

These beads are made of a plant-ash glass with elevated alumina and low lime v-Na-Al , so the glass they are made of must have come from a different geological zone than the Indo-Pacific beads. In addition, they arrived in staggering numbers, suggesting the trade had increased yet again. Great Zimbabwe became the new regional capital and center of control over trade with the Indian Ocean. A change in the bead series being traded occurred at about the same time Mapungubwe was abandoned, but the chemical composition of this new series, the Zimbabwe series, differs only slightly from the Mapungubwe Oblate series, so a shift in trading patterns is not evident; it rather suggests a slight shift in manufacturing location.

The origins of these two bead series are elusive. Although the Middle East is known for producing plant-ash glasses, the levels of alumina in these glasses are rather high for Middle Eastern glass; in addition, that region is not known for producing small drawn beads. Trade to the south was segmented, and the Swahili town of Kilwa, in southern Tanzania, is often considered to have controlled the trans-shipment of goods between north and south, as well as trade that arrived directly from southern India via the Maldives.

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Although a range of bead types are found, East Coast Indo-Pacific series beads dominate, and Mapungubwe Oblate and Zimbabwe series beads are rare. It is during this period that one finds the unusual small wound beads made of lead-silica glass discussed above. The only large number 30 of them came from the Husuni Kubwa palace complex at Kilwa. Although this trade was originally conducted by Indian and Swahili traders, it was eventually largely overtaken by the Portuguese. They initially attempted to introduce European beads into the market, but African consumers refused to accept them, thus forcing the Portuguese to purchase beads for the African trade in India.

Indo-Pacific beads continue to dominate East African assemblages. Wound beads occur less frequently than in earlier periods, but their continued presence suggests that East Africa and northern India maintained trade contacts that were absent or infrequent in the south, where wound beads are very rare. In southern Africa, bead series appeared one at a time and, except for brief transition periods, only one series was present during any period. All but a very few beads were monochrome, drawn, and small-to-medium in diameter.

Many of them were wound, some were multicolored and decorated, and many were large. Although it has often been assumed that all trade to southern Africa passed through and was controlled by ports in East Africa, the bead evidence demonstrates this is unlikely to have been the case—rather because of the relative scarcity of southern African bead types in East Africa than the other way around.

Tumbe on Pemba Island the area believed to be the ancient site of Qanbalu, which was a stopping point for Gulf ships headed south is the only northern site identified thus far to have even small numbers of the Zhizo beads that were ubiquitous in the south. Because a sizeable proportion of wound beads, which were made in the north of India, are found on the East Coast 84 but are absent in the south, it is possible southern Africa traded through southern routes with sources further south in India where wound beads were not produced.

One cannot rule out local tastes in these trends, but it seems unlikely that no one in southern Africa would have accepted wound beads if they had been available. In fact, during this period wound beads known as Garden Rollers were being locally made in the Shashe-Limpopo area by melting and reworking the imported K2 series beads.


The resolution of this issue lies with finding the source of the Mapungubwe Oblate and Zimbabwe series beads. This study has demonstrated that southern Africa was an active and independent participant in Indian Ocean trade from the second half of the first millennium AD and that the East Coast was not in control of all trade to the south as has often been assumed. Ceramics are found almost exclusively in coastal venues. They probably first arrived as personal possessions of Indian Ocean traders who lived in communities for extended periods while waiting for favorable winds for their onward voyages.

As Horton 86 has suggested, they may have become part of gift exchanges to cement relations between traders and eventually become socially embedded commodities with symbolic meanings about the prestige and status of their owners. The glass beads, on the other hand, were true trade objects that were an important constituent of the goods sent into the interior in exchange for products there. Although far more beads are found in southern Africa than in the East African interior, it is likely that this discrepancy will close at least somewhat as more archaeologists sieve deposits with fine mesh.

Axelson , E. Beaujard , P. Bronson , B. Carswell , J. Chaisuwan , B. Manguin , A. Mani , G. Chami , F. Chittick , H. Fage , R. C rowther , A. Daggett , A. Denbow , J. Dewar , R. Dreyer , E. Dussubieux , L. Ekblom , A.

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Fleisher , J. Francis , P. Freeman-Grenville , G. Horton , M. H orton , M. The social landscape of a mercantile society , Oxford, Blackwell Publishers. Hourani , G. An archaeological study of early urbanism , Doctoral thesis, Uppsala University. Kanungo , A. Khan , F. Lankton , J. Janssens ed. Bacus , I. Glover , P. LaViolette , A. Morrison , H. Chittick ed. Patel , A. Pearson , M. Morgan , A. Reid eds , The new Cambridge history of Islam , vol.

Pouwells , R. Radimilahy , C. Ray , H.

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