Title of the session


Session Organizer(s)

Dr Tom Fitton
Department of Archaeology, University of York,
Kings Manor, Exhibition Square, York, UK, YO1 7EP
Email: tom.fitton@york.ac.uk

Abdallah K. Ali
Director of Antiquities
Department of Museums and Antiquities,
Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Forodhani, Zanzibar 
Email: oleshanga87@gmail.com

Professor Stephanie Wynne-Jones
Department of Archaeology, University of York,
Kings Manor, Exhibition Square, York, UK, YO1 7EP 
Email: stephanie.wynne-jones@york.ac.uk

Delivery format


Nature of a session

Open for contributions

Session abstract

The Zanzibar Archipelago has been a key hub of settlement, travel, and trade on the Eastern African Coast since at least the mid-first millennium, and as well as Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene cave sites, the islands boast some of the earliest Bantu coastal settlements, a number of immensely successful Swahili port towns with their own distinct forms of urbanism, and the cities, palaces, and plantations of the colonial period. Today, however, human-driven climate change, rising sea levels, and the COVID-19 pandemic all pose direct threats to the local communities, economy, and culture of the archipelago. 

While the archipelago has been the focus of a broad range of historic and archaeological investigations, the resultant narratives are not always well known outside professional circles, but the renovation of museums in Stone Town and at Unguja Ukuu by the Zanzibar Department of Museums and Antiquities is helping highlight the unique archaeological heritage of the islands for both visitors and local communities.

In this session, we hope to bring together researchers and professionals working on any period or aspect of archaeology and heritage across the Zanzibar Archipelago, in order to showcase the range of recent work in the region and to encourage discussion of new opportunities for collaborative engagement and dissemination between archaeologists, heritage professionals, NGOs, and museums.

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