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The Swahili: The Social Landscape of a Mercantile Society

ISBN: 978-0-631-18919-0
292 pages
March 2001, Wiley-Blackwell
The Swahili: The Social Landscape of a Mercantile Society (063118919X) cover image


This wide-ranging volume integrates documentary sources and contemporary archaeological evidence to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date account of Swahili history, anthropology, language and culture.
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Table of Contents


1. The Swahili Coast.

2. Origins.

3. The Acceptance of Islam.

4. The Swahili Coast and the Indian Ocean World.

5. The Trading System of the Swahili Coast.

6. The Urban Landscape.

7. The Social Landscape.

8. Governance and Politics.

9. The Swahili in a Changing World.

10. Constructing the Mercantile Landscape.




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Author Information

Mark Horton is a Reader in Archaeology at the University of Bristol. He has conducted research in both Kenya and Tanzania since 1980, and directed excavations at Shanga in the Lamu archipelago and on the islands of Pemba, Zanzibar and Tumbatu. Between 1984 and 1987 he was a Research Fellow at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and from 1987 to 1992 directed a project that investigated the origins of East African Islam for the British Institute in Eastern Africa.

John Middleton retired in 1991 as Professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies at Yale University, after also teaching at the University of London, New York University, and elsewhere. He has carried out anthropological research in Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana. He worked in Zanzibar in 1958 on land tenure among the central Swahili (published as Land Tenure in Zanzibar, 1961) and later in the 1980s among the northern Swahili of the town of Lamu in Kenya to make a general ethnography that was published in 1992 as The World of the Swahili. His other books include Lugbara Religion (1960) and he was editor-in-chief of the Encyclopaedia of Africa South of the Sahara (1997).

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The Wiley Advantage

  • Provides a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of the Swahili peoples.

  • A scholarly but accessible account of this famous yet little understood society.
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"[Horton and Middleton's] portrait of the Swahili is drawn from multiple sources of data, including archival records, ethnographic fieldwork, and recent archaeological finds expertly providing comprehensive, up-to-date accounts if African peoples that are both scholarly and accessible." CHOICE <!--end-->

"Despite their high profile, the identity of the Swahili has been elusive to define. The sensible discussion of this issue by Horton & Middleton should finally put this question to rest ... The Swahili is a fine addition to the series on the peoples of Africa published by Blackwell. South African Archaeological Bulletin

"Well supplied with maps and plates depicting locales, excavations, and architecture, the book will be useful to a general readership, as well as to younger scholars interested in the African littoral. The archeological chapters are very informative."Greg Cameron, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

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