Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article summarises the current state of knowledge about Swahili society as known primarily through archaeology, including broad commonalities that tie the coast together as a culture zone and current directions in archaeological research. The word Swahili derives from the Arabic for ‘coastal-dwelling’. Debate exists as to when the term should be applied, depending on the timing of factors such as the spread of the Swahili language, town formation, and conversion to Islam, all of which become central to later notions of Swahili life, but did not appear simultaneously. Despite the grey areas in the understanding of Swahili origins, there is broad consensus that Swahili society was an indigenous African development. The great impact of nineteenth-century Omani Arab migration to the Swahili coast led to assumptions that heavy migration had also characterised the coast in much earlier centuries.

Keywords: Swahili archaeology, coastal dwelling, Islam, Omani Arab migration, Swahili society

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.