Mombasa Island: A Maritime Perspective

  • Rosemary McConkey
  • Thomas McErlean

Mombasa’s strategic position on the Swahili Coast and fine harbours were key factors in its emergence as a prosperous city state during the early second millennium AD. These same attributes drew the attention of rival powers in the struggle to control the lucrative Indian Ocean trade network, particularly during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Drawing from a rich legacy of cartographic and documentary sources created in the course of Mombasa’s turbulent history, this paper presents the results of a coastal archaeological survey undertaken in 2001 as part of a wider collaborative maritime project.


Mombasa coastal Swahili Portuguese African archaeology 



The survey was carried out with permission from the Office of the President, Republic of Kenya, with support from the School of Environmental Studies, University of Ulster, the British Institute in East Africa, and the National Museums of Kenya. Acknowledgements are due to Paul Lane, George Abungu, Athman Lali Omar, Francis Munyao (who identified and described the collected ceramic samples), Stephanie Wynne-Jones, John Giblin, Vicki Emmerson, Caesar Bita, Colin Breen, Rory Quinn, Wes Forsythe, Donal Boland, Ciara Herron, Rosemarie McMenamin, an anonymous reviewer, and all those who participated in the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Maritime ArchaeologySchool of Environmental Science, University of UlsterColeraineNorthern Ireland

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