Ethiopia-Harar Jugol

  • Topic: 1000 to 2000 BP
  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

A commercial centre and trade routes are major features used to describe the historic town of Harar, a link between Africa and the Islam world. Harar is at the realm of holly Islam cities and provides archaeological evidence of the significant conversion to Islam in the Ethiopian interior. A historical source places and records the conversion of the Argobba people of the Harar region to A.D. 1108. Archaeologists however argue that Harar has no significance of antiquity today except that it boasts of historical settlements with 82 mosques three of which date back to the 10th century and 102 shrines that boast of an interior design that is arguably the most superb index of the Harar’s cultural heritage. Some of the settlements in the city of Harar are believed to have been linked to the Sultanate of ‘Adal’ which developed in the late 14th century.

The origin of this historic town is not completely understood; however, evidence, most of which is derived from oral tradition, suggests a few possibilities. Harar may have been found in the 12th century by Arab migrant’s, legend has it that in 1256. 405 Sheikhs from Arab Peninsula arrived and chose to build a city Harar while other sources, supported by linguistic evidence, indicate that the historic town of Harar may have been found around 10th century. This is because the Arab language is believed to have been introduced to Ethiopia in the 9th century. Dates from three mosques, Aw Mansur and Muhammad Abogh in Jugol, and Aw Machad Mosqeu outside Jugol, in Harar indicate occupation to be the 10th century. Trade in Harar was established between 1277 and 1285 and after a neighbouring lord of Harar created a coalition or a merger of five Muslim principalities, resulting in the inception of Harar as a commercial centre.

Insoll, T. 1996. The Spread of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa. A Review: The Journal of World Prehistory, vol. 10. No. 4, pp 439-504.

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