Run Time: 48:29
Jeffrey Fleisher, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rice University spoke at the Toledo Museum of Art.
"The Archeology of the Ancient Swahili: Trade, Islam and Indian" - The ancient Swahili of the eastern African coast—from southern Somalia to Mozambique—has been long recognized as an Islamic, mercantile society that negotiated the trade between the African continent and the Indian Ocean world. The question of who the ancient Swahili were, however, has changed dramatically over the last 25 years. Archaeologists during the colonial period believed them to be the descendants of Persian colonists. However, archaeologists, historians and linguists have challenged this notion and begun to explore the African roots of this complex society. This research has shown the deep connections the ancient Swahili built with long distance traders in the Indian Ocean, the early adoption of Islam, and the means through which coastal settlements grew into cosmopolitan cities boasting elaborate mosques, tombs and palaces.