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date: 23 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines a dynamic and rapidly growing field in African archaeology. It covers a complex period of colonial history from the end of the fifteenth century, when the Portuguese first sailed along the East African coast, to the 1960s, when East African countries finally gained independence. Squeezed between European periods of rule was that of the Omani sultanate, which ruled the coast and caravan routes with variable local powers from the seventeenth century until 1890 when Zanzibar became a British protectorate. These changing systems of rule interacted with local histories in which local African communities were increasingly engaged in the intensification of the caravan trade, especially enslaved persons and ivory, and the introduction of plantation agriculture. The discussion considers colonialism and power, settlement patterns, economic life and artefact studies, and enslavement and resistance.

Keywords: colonial history, Omani sultanate, Zanzibar, caravan trade, slavery, African archaeology, plantation agriculture

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