HARLAA– A team of archaeologists in Ethiopia has discovered what appears to be an ancient Islamic city.
From their calculations, the city may have existed as far back as the 10th century AD. The discovery was made in Harlaa, eastern Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has always been an interesting destination for archaeologists and researchers who are interested in the evolution of humans on the planet.
Ethiopia was one of the earliest places known to be inhabited by humans.
Fossil remains of Australopithecus afarensi, known as “Lucy,” were first discovered in Ethiopia and Tanzania. Researches have strongly suggested that humanity started in Africa.
In 2015 researchers discovered jaw bones and teeth dating to over 3 million years old in the northwest of the country(Ethiopia).
Generally, there have been discovered traces of ancient empires which prove that Africa had pre-existed before ever the continent gained global attraction in the course of ancient foreign contacts (trade); the people lived and left cultural heritages as well, to mark their historical stay.
Likewise, the recent Harlaa research team also found a 12th Century mosque which shared a resemblance to the ones found in Tanzania and Somaliland.
The team suggests that this probably shows the historic origin of the different Islamic communities in Africa.
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According to the lead archaeologist Professor Timothy Insoll from the University of Exeter,
“This discovery revolutionises our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia. What we have found shows this area was the centre of trade in that region,”
“Residents of Harlaa were a mixed community of foreigners and local people who traded with others in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and possibly as far away as the Arabian Gulf,”
Included in their findings were jewelry and other artifacts from Madagascar, the Maldives, Yemen and China. Coinciding with historical records, Harlaa was a commercial hub for jewelry making.
The team also found bronze and silver coins from 13th century Egypt; Islamic burials and headstones.
About 300 remains of people buried in a cemetery are being examined to see ascertain their diet pattern back in the day.
Prof. Insoll says that the project has taken approximately 2 years to complete.
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However, the team also found contrasting, the Ethiopian myth that Harlaa was a ‘city of giants’ in the ancient times. Prof Insoll said the native people may not be willing to buy this particular finding.
“We have obviously disproved that, but I’m not sure they fully believe us yet,”
The Harlaa discoveries have summatively become the first evidence of links between Ethiopia and the Gulf, India and North Africa centuries ago.
With regards to the origin of Islam in Africa, these findings also give a link.
Islam is said to have arrived Ethiopia in the 7th Century. Harar is recorded to be one of the holiest Islamic cities and the headquarters of Islamic learning in Ethiopia. Harar was located near Harlaa.
According to UNESCO, the holy city has 102 shrines and 82 mosques, with 3 dating back to the 10th Century.
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