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Maritime and underwater cultural heritage of the United Republic of Tanzania: History, opportunities and future directions

Maritime and underwater cultural heritage of the United Republic of Tanzania: History, opportunities and future directions
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  SHIPWRECKS AROUND THE WORLD: REVELATIONS OF THE PAST 526   Maritime and underwater cultural heritageof the United Republic of Tanzania: History,opportunities and future directions Elgidius Ichumbaki B, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Introduction Tanzania is blessed with a unique and important maritime history as compared to manyother countries of the Indian Ocean coast. The history’s uniqueness is due to two main reasons: First, the presence of many water bodies such as rivers and lakes equally distributedin Tanzania, and also the Indian Ocean which stretches from the northeastern to thesoutheastern parts of Tanzania (Fig. 1). The most known rivers with maritime heritagepotentiality include Rufiji, Ruvuma, Pangani, Kagera, Mara, Malagarasi and Wami, just to mention few. The lakes are Victoria, Nyasa, Tanganyika, Rukwa, Eyasi, Manyara andNatron. The second reason is that fishing, transport, trade and contact and the relatedsocial interactions had long been part and parcel of the people daily activities in bothrivers and lakes and along the coast of the Indian Ocean (Sheriff, 1987; Horton, 1996a;1996b; Horton and Middleton, 2000; Gilbert, 2002; Ichumbaki, 2011). This marine cultureand the related socio - economic undertakings are revealed in different evidences rangingfrom archaeology, history, architecture, mortuary and numismatics (Chami, 1999;Biginagwa, 2012).Various studies ranging from the perspectives of history, archaeology, ethnography,anthropology and sociology have shown that Tanzania has been involved in maritimesocio-economic interactions since the 1st century AD (Chami, 1994; 1999; 2002; 2006;Lane, 2005; Kwekason, 2010; Christie, 2011; Ichumbaki, 2011; 2012; Biginagwa, 2012).These socio-economic interactions have resulted in a history which needs not only to beexplored and made known to all people of the world and Indian Ocean in particular, but also preserved for the benefit of both present and future generations. This paper thereforeshall explore the maritime history of Tanzania and indicate opportunities available forboth exploring and understanding this maritime history. Finally, the paper explores thefuture directions for studying, interpreting and understanding the maritime socioeconomicinteractions between Tanzania and other parts of the Indian Ocean World. The United Republic of Tanzania: Location and its Short History The United Republic of Tanzania lies between latitude 1 o  and 12 o S and longitude 29 o  and41 o E. It is one among the East African countries bordered by other members as Kenyaand Uganda to the north, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi to thewest and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The Indian Ocean bordersTanzania on the eastern side. Administratively, the country is divided into about twenty 23  MARITIME AND UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC ...  527 Fig. 1 Map of Tanzania Showing Major Water Bodies: Ocean, Lakes and Rivers (Elgidius Ichumbaki) nine regions including the islands of Unguja, Pemba and Mafia. Tanzania’s principalcommercial city, Dar es Salaam serves as the major seaport for the country and itslandlocked neighbours such as Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi and the DemocraticRepublic of Congo. This country with an approximated population of about 40 million people (Ichumbaki, 2011) is a home of more than 120 ethnic groups, Mulokozi (2005).Despite each tribe having its own vernacular language, Kiswahili is the majorcommunicating language. Due to the tourist potentiality and fame of these heritage assets,the United Republic of Tanzania is popularly known as the land of Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.Tanzania is among the oldest inhabited countries as evidenced by the found fossil remainsof humans and pre-human hominids dating back over 1.8 million years (Mabulla, 1996;  SHIPWRECKS AROUND THE WORLD: REVELATIONS OF THE PAST 528 Boyd and Silk, 2000; Klein, 2000; 2008; Bushozi, 2011). Evidence for this comes fromsuch sites as Olduvai Gorge, Lake Ndutu, Laitoli, Peninj and Lake Eyasi, all found in Tanzania. During the 19th century, Tanzania (then Tanganyika) was colonized by theGermans who incorporated it together with Rwanda and Burundi into a German East Africa. It continued to remain under German domination until after World War I when the League of Nations charter designated the area as a British Protectorate (Chami, 2009;Ichumbaki, 2011). British rule came to an end in 1961 after a relatively peaceful transition to independence. The name Tanzania started to be used in 1964 when Tanganyika andZanzibar united together to form the United Republic of Tanzania. The current politicalsituation presents Tanzania as a democratic country whereby the president and membersof the National Assembly are for five-year terms concurrently elected by direct popularvote. History of Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage of Tanzania In previous works (Ichumbaki, 2011: 554) I discussed the scholars’ view on the meaningof Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH) and provided my own  understanding of it. In this paper I still maintain the same understanding. That is, MUCHrefers to material traces, manifestations and physical remains that signify the interactionsbetween past humans and water bodies such as ocean, sea, lakes and rivers. Consideringthe diversity of water bodies in Tanzania (Fig. 1) and the results of few maritime work (Pollard, 2008a; 2008b; 2008c; 2009; 2011) there should be a long and probably uniquemaritime history. Despite the lack of comprehensive maritime researche (Lane, 2005). Ishall try to provide the most possible interpretation of Tanzania’s maritime history. Variousactivities such as navigation, fishing and gathering seafood must have taken place alongthe Tanzanian lakes, rivers and along the Indian Ocean. Although the contributions of rivers and lakes have not been investigated or documented, there are some evidencesalong the coast that fishing and seafood gathering to some extent contributed to the riseand development of the Swahili civilization (Matveive, 1984). It is clearly known that thecoastal community used marine/sea materials for both foods and trading. The community used fish, marine animals and molluscs for food while pearls, shells, turtle shells andamber were collected for sale. My thinking is that fishing and gathering of seafoodcannot be separated from the development of maritime and underwater technologies. Thismeans that, the coastal and other communities who inhabited marine environments (areassurrounding and or surrounded by the water bodies) must have developed skills of boatbuilding, determining high and low tides and the direction of winds as well as manyother related navigational astronomies.The history of Tanzania’s maritime activities which forms the basis for the presence of maritime and underwater cultural heritage can be accrued from two main sources; written documents and archaeological toil. The former include Greco-Roman documents as well  MARITIME AND UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC ...  529 as the Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese and European travellers’ reports (Chami, 1994;Kwekason, 2010; Ichumbaki, 2012). The latter comes from an ongoing meticulousarchaeological excavation along the Tanzanian coast. Although these two sources tellmuch about the Indian Ocean they have no information on rivers and lakes which are of paramount importance to explain the maritime history of the Swahili coast and Tanzaniain particular. Since these sources have been explained although not in a maritime perspective(Freeman-Grenville, 1962; Chittick, 1966; Chami, 1999; Kwekason, 2010), I will brieflytry to summarize them. The Greco-Roman documents which include the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea  ( Periplus Maris Erithrei ) and Ptolemy’s Geography  are the earliest evidenceof Tanzania’s maritime history. These documents explain the existence of contacts between Tanzania and the external world during the first and second centuries AD. Both the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and Ptolemy’s Geography  elaborate the existence of tradingcentres in the Tanzanian coast at that time known as  Azania . The most popular anddocumented is what Masao (2005) calls ‘Greco-Roman emporium-Rhapta’. Although thelocation of this trade centre is mentioned (Freeman-Grenville, 1962) and some (Chami,1999) have provisionally located it, other scholars (Chittick, 1982) have argued that thecentre has probably sunk under the ocean. Since there hasn’t been thorough convincingevidence to exactly locate this Greco-Roman city on the terrestrial region and there hasn’t been a maritime based work to locate it, there is a need to implement a maritime basedarchaeological project to test, verify, nullify and or prove either Chittick’s (1982) orChami’s (1999) statements about Rhapta. However regardless of whether Chittick’s,Chami’s or either of the two is correct about Rhapta’s location, of interest to this work isthe very fact of its existence. Rhapta’s existence is of much importance to convincinglyexplain that the coast of Tanzania has been interacting with the external world since the1st-2nd centuries AD. Of much importance, the interaction was through the ocean thusindicating the presence of maritime potential. Interestingly, Tanzania’s maritime interaction did not stop after the coastal people stopped trading with the Romans. For instance,between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD when the Roman-Tanzania trade interaction ended,the Tanzanians established another contact with the Sasanian maritime traders.This is evidenced by the presence of Sasanid wares and coins which have been recoveredfrom the sites of Fukuchani and Unguja Ukuu and Kiomoni-Tanga respectively (Chittick,1966; Biginagwa, 2012; and Juma, 1996). The trade interaction between the East Africansand Tanzania in particular continued during the early seventh century when the Islamictraders started to dominate the Indian Ocean. Traders from Middle East, Far East andSouth East Asia started to come to East Africa and Tanzania in particular for tradingpurposes. The major imported goods are ceramics and glass including pitch-lined earth-ware jars, white glazed wares and lead glazed and lustre wares, painted stone wares, olivegreen jars and early green wares (Bita, 2011; 2012; Horton and Middleton, 2000). On theother hand, Tanzanians exported slaves, tortoise shells, ivory, mangrove poles and minerals.This interaction continued until the fifteenth century when it was interrupted by the
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