Published on : Friday, May 19, 2017
A group of archaeological experts met in Bahrain for discussing how to use their research on Africa’s archaeology for promoting the continent’s old Islamic sites. The Islamic Archaeology in Global Perspective Conference, held in Manama, was mainly focused towards highlighting the significant role that archaeology has to play in various parts of Africa. One such site is in Volubilis, Morocco – an important 3rd century BC settlement of the Roman Empire. It is believed to be one of the richest such sites in North Africa today.
To quote Dr Corsiande Fenwick, a lecturer in Mediterranean archaeology, “In Morocco for example, we have at the site of Volubilis, a famous site, a UNESCO site, wonderful evidence of the transformation of diet, the transformation of burial practices, for the use of new types of dishes, cooking practices that all come in the 8th century. So this would suggest that in that area at least a very early spread of Islam. Now that is not the case everywhere in North Africa.”
While Egypt has led the boom in archaeological tourism, many parts of sub-Saharan Africa with Islamic heritage are also expected to meet their tourism potential. In Mali, the towering Great Mosque of Djenne, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988, is a major attraction.
Timbuktu, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for its manuscripts dating back to the 13th century, and also known for its historic architecture. Benjamin Kankpeyeng, a professor of archaeology at the University of Ghana, said there are still many more historic architectural sites on the continent that are yet to get the attention they deserve. Popular for its historic buildings and white-sandy beaches, Zanzibar attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Many of Africa’s archaeological treasures are yet to meet their tourism potential.