East Africa and Horn of Africa section
The Swahili people have been viewed as of Persian/Arabic or Cushitic speaking origin. Scholars have used historical and archaeological data to support this hypothesis. However, linguistic and recent archaeological data suggest the Swahili culture had its origins in the early first centuries A.D. it was the early farming people who settled on the coast in the last centuries B.C. who first adopted iron technology and sailing techniques and founded the coastal settlements. the culture of iron-using people spread to the rest of the coast of East Africa, its center changing fom one place to another. Involvements in transoceanic trade from the early centuries A.D. contributed to the prosperity of the coastal communities as evidenced by coastal monuments. More than 1500 years of cultural continuity was offset by the arrival of European and Arab colonizers in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries A.D.
African Archaeological Review
16 (3): 199-218, September 1998
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Updated: Saturday, 5 July 2003 4:02 AM EDT