About the Project

Urban Ecology and Transitions in the Zanzibar Archipelago is a collaboration between the Department of Archaeology, University of York, and the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), Aarhus University, and is funded by the Leverhulme Trust (2019-2022).

The project is an exploration of the ways that early urban centres on Zanzibar drew on, utilised, and affected their resource landscapes during two major periods of urban growth. Fieldwork at Unguja Ukuu (7th – 15th centuries) and Tumbatu (11th – 15th centuries) on Zanzibar will explore domestic contexts in detail, analysing the ways that local resources were used and built into the spaces of the towns. Sampling for geochemistry, plant and animal remains will complement off-site survey for environmental change. The result will be a clearer understanding of the relationship between these urban centres and their surrounding resource landscapes, and the ability to comment upon sustainability and cultural priorities for these early towns.