Item Details

The Mosques of Songo Mnara in their Urban Landscape

Issue: Vol 4 No. 2 (2017)

Journal: Journal of Islamic Archaeology

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/jia.35272


The 15th century Swahili town of Songo Mnara (Tanzania) had six mosques—an unusual quantity for a town of only 7 hectares and a population of 500–1000 people. Large-scale archaeological investigations of two previously unstudied mosques, and detailed survey of the remaining four structures has suggested a complex pattern of Islamic practice in the town, including a dynamic relationship between mosques and burials, an emerging sense of social difference within the town, and the active signalling of Islamic faith to visitors through the construction of monuments intended to be seen on approach to the town. We commend a holistic approach in which mosques are studied not as isolated structures but as part of a wider urban landscape.

Author: Mark Horton, Jeffrey Fleisher, Stephanie Wynne-Jones

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