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Ship Graffiti at Zanzibar Fort Recorded

Monday, May 9, 2022

Tanzania Ship GraffitiEXETER, ENGLAND—According to a statement released by the University of Exeter, John P. Cooper and Alessandro Ghidoni recorded graffiti depicting ships inside the ramparts at Zanzibar Fort, which is located on the coast of Tanzania and was built by the rulers of Oman in the eighteenth century. The engravings are thought to have been carved by soldiers on guard duty from the mid- to late nineteenth century, when the region was the southern terminus of a transoceanic trade network. The images include a European-style three-masted frigate; several dhows, or Arab-style oceangoing vessels with triangular sails; and two images that may represent the East African mtepe, a ship that was sewn together. “Similar graffiti has been reported elsewhere in Oman, suggesting a relatively widespread practice of inscribing ship graffiti within Omani military buildings,” Cooper said. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. For more on archaeology in this area, go to "Stone Towns of the Swahili Coast."

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