Maritime Africa 4: The Swahili Coast

January 2023

We continue our mini-series on maritime Africa with an episode on the Swahili coast – a fascinating part of east Africa particularly rich in its maritime cultural heritage and trading past. The Swahili coast is distinctive for its mixture of African and Arabic cultures and the way that the two have been bound together by maritime trade across the Indian Ocean. There is also clear Chinese influence here as well, reflecting historic maritime trade routes thousands of miles longer and which date back to the Middle Ages. To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with Dr Stephanie Wynne- Jones form the University of York. Her work in Africa explores the deep links between people, landscapes, history and material culture and she has directed a series of excavation and survey projects in eastern Africa, including a study of early towns on Zanzibar and large-scale excavations at the World Heritage Swahili town of Songo Mnara – which we will find out more about in an upcoming episode.

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