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To what extent did the Medieval Islam Empire affect burial rituals on the Swahili coast, particularly focusing on Swahili tombs? SHAUNIE WALSH.

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Presentation on theme: "To what extent did the Medieval Islam Empire affect burial rituals on the Swahili coast, particularly focusing on Swahili tombs? SHAUNIE WALSH."— Presentation transcript:

1 To what extent did the Medieval Islam Empire affect burial rituals on the Swahili coast, particularly focusing on Swahili tombs? SHAUNIE WALSH

2 Structure  Brief introduction of the Swahili culture and the arrival of Islam  Review of current literature and research on the topic  Typology for tombs.  A brief explanation of data collection and the results.  Funerary practices in Medieval Islam  Why Pillars? A discussion as to why the Swahili may have chosen Pillars as monumentality.  Further evidence for Islam's effect on the Swahili culture an they way the Swahili adapted and changed these beliefs  Wider implications of this study  What further study needs to be done

3 The Swahili Coast  Islam present from 8 th century.  Connections made through Indian ocean trade through monsoon winds.  Never conquered by Islam – conversion was slow and voluntary  Mixture of African and Arabic cultures resulted in Swahili culture. Map showing East African Coast. Google images, 2013

4 Current Literature Two typologies:  Wilding, R (1988) Panels, Pillars and Posterity. Ancient Tombs on the North Kenyan Coast: A Preliminary Study. Fort Jesus occasional papers (vol. 6): Mobassa  Wilson, T (1979) Swahili funerary architecture. In J. D. V. Allen and T. Wilson Swahili House and Tombs of the Coast of Kenya. Art and archaeology research papers: Headington Individual studies  Chami, F. (2002) The Excavations of Kaole Ruins. In F. Chami and G. Pwiti. Southern Africa and the Swahili world. Dar Es Salaam University print: Tanzania  Chittick, N. (1974) Kilwa: an Islamic trading city on the East African coast. British Institute in Eastern Africa: Nairobi  Chittick, N. (1984) Manda: excavations at an island port on the Kenya coast. British Institute in Eastern Africa: Nairobi  Horton, M (1986) Shanga: The archaeology of a Muslim trading community on the coast of East Africa. British Institute in East Africa: London and Nairobi

5 Typology  Enclosure  Stepped  Tombstone  Complex tombs  Pillar  Dome Above: Dome tomb at Siyu. Below: Drawing of stepped tomb. Above: Pillar tomb at Takwa, Google image Below: Enclosure with headstones.

6 Data collection  450 burials  17 sites  12 th – 19 th century  Date, type, decoration, position within settlement and other distinguishing features

7 Setting the scene…  Fatima’s death (632) – Washed her body, placed bed in middle of the room and laid facing Islam  Muhammad’s burial – buried beneath his home ‘all prophets are to be buried precisely where they die’ and that God would ‘slay people who adopt the graves of their prophets as mosques’  Patrilineage on tombstones  Qur’anic verses on tombstones  Markers on graves (?)  Saints shrines and other monumentality in Islam

8 Chronological patterns  Dome tomb as a foreign feature prominent from the 15 th century  Epitaphs introduced from 14 th century  Bowls used as decoration – Change from green ware to Chinese blue and white porcelain The tomb of the prophet. Shah Dome of the Rock. Google images (2013) Pillar tomb showing bowl. Google 2013

9 Why pillars?  Phallic?  Mnara = navigational  Mnara = shaft of light = bakara  Prominent and aesthetic  Show of power/ status Pillar tomb at Shanga. Horton, 1986

10 Evidence for the amalgamation of two cultures.  Islam prohibits intramural burial.  Shanga – 43 tombs in town  Kaole - 46 tombs in town  Islam prohibits building on graves  Islam prohibits writing on graves  Siyu – tomb inscription  Kunduchi – 6 tombs with epitaphs with Islamic meanings  Gedi – tomb inscription  Takwa – Tomb inscription  Family ties not kept after death  Complex tombs representing family burials found at Shanga

11 Wider implications  Unable to study Islam directly though archaeology due to religious law – Africa is one place where you can research the manifestations of Islam.  Limited research done on Africa compared to other areas.  Can learn about life through death.

12 Further study  A lot of work still needed  Some sites had to be discarded due to lack of relevant information  Previous studies not necessarily focused on tombs  Lots of sites still unexplored  Large potential for further study.


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