A researcher who uses carbon dating on ancient items

These studies have shown that early cities emerged along the East African coast (EAC) from Somalia to Mozambique around CE 500, results that show the effectiveness of a postcolonial archeology that has methodically deconstructed the much favored colonial theory that urbanism came with foreigners in the 2nd millennium CE.The residents of the EAC included farmers, fishers, traders, scribes, rulers, and enslaved persons.The East African coast is among the optimum places for studying the long-term processes of urbanization and the development of complex society in Africa.Yet until the late 1980s, little was known about the role that indigenous peoples played in the development of complex coastal polities.The primary reasons for acquiring trading colonies were to control long-distance exchange between Africa and Asia.

The East African coast played a crucial role in the Indian Ocean trade that linked East Africa, the Near East, and South Asia.

Economic and social interaction among diverse groups who made their living from hunting, herding, farming, and iron working laid the foundation from which international trade exchange systems interlocked.

By the end of the 1st millennium CE, the EAC had become a regular partner in the millennia old long-distance exchanges that reached as far as the Arabian Peninsula, India, Sri Lanka, and China, postcolonial interpretations that incorporate African agency and the seriously diminish a colonial archeology that privileged the idea that foreigner traders were the primary agents of change.

Early second millennium scholars, including Al Biruni in the 11th century and Al Tarsusi in the 12th century discuss the widespread use of the crucible steel process in the Islamic world, which included the East African coast.

The Swahili coast is known to have exported iron in quantity to India, as stated by Al Masudi and Al Idrisi. Kusimba is convinced that the availability of fuel, ore, and skill made iron relatively inexpensive for African ironworkers to make, use, and take advantage of fuel shortage in Arabia and India to corner the market.

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