Tanzania Introduction
Tanzania Important Information
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Tanzania Archaeological Sites
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Tanzania Archaeological Sites

Tanzania is the home of Olduvai Gorge, the world famous palaeoanthropological site studied for more than 40 years by the Leakeys. The 40-kilometre-long Gorge (Olduvai is a mispronunciation of Oldupai, a Maasai word meaning 'the place of wild sisal') is located in northern Tanzania at the border of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park. It has yielded numerous fossil remains from Pleistocene times (from about five million to 10,000 years ago), including the skull of the primitive hominid Australopithecus boisei or 'Nutcracker Man', a species that became extinct about one million years ago. Despite the controversy surrounding the interpretation of many of the Olduvai specimens, life scientists agree that no other site has produced stone tools, animal bones and early hominid remains so precisely associated in such a well-understood environment, and over such a vast time span. The 3.75 million-year fossilized hominid footprints, found by Dr. Mary Leakey in 1975 at the nearby Laetoli, proves that our human ancestors walked in an upright position much earlier than it was thought, and are widely thought to rank among the greatest palaeoanthropological discoveries of this century.
There are also several important mid-Pleistocene sites in the southwest of Tanzania, while the later Quaternary sites of Mdutu, Eysi and Ngaloba, all located within easy reach of Tanzania's 'northern circuit', have yielded significant fossil evidence for dating the evolution of Homo Sapiens. It was from this evidence that a group of US scientists concluded recently that anatomically, modern humans actually evolved in East Africa.
Tanzania is also home to some fine examples of prehistoric 'rock art', some dating back about 50,000 years. More than 500 such sites have been found in the central highlands alone, but much of the area remains unexplored. A string of early Iron Age sites in the Kagera region of northwest Tanzania, provides evidence that its inhabitants had developed complex metallurgical skills, involving the production of carbon steel, almost 2,000 years before such skills were evolved in the West.

Sites of significant historical importance from later years, include the numerous medieval ruins scattered along Tanzania's 800-kilometre-long coastline. These are the remains of the Swahili city states that flourished along the East African coast between the ninth and 16th centuries. Among the most outstanding of these ruined medieval cities is the ancient Islamic trading centre of Kilwa Kisiwani, in the southeast of the country. The city derived its wealth from the gold and ivory trades. By the end of the 14th century, Kilwa boasted the largest building and mosque in sub-Saharan Africa as well as the first mint on African soil. In 1312, a famous Arab traveller described Kilwa as the "best built" settlement he had ever seen, and another writer calls it "the Pearl of Africa". Other ruined cities dating from the same period include Songo Mnara, Mtitimira, Sanje ya Kati and Sanje Majoma, all located near Kilwa; Kunduchi and Mbweni, near Dar es Salaam; and Kaole near Bagamoyo. The former slave-trading town of Kilwa Kivinje in the south, are also rich in late 19th and early 20th century German and British colonial architecture. Kabale, the 19th - century capital of the kingdom of Kyamtwara, has survived almost intact, providing a living example of traditional East African kingship.
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