Archaeological Sites


Engaruka – It is an abandoned system of ruins in the Great Rift Valley of northern Tanzania . Situated in the Arusha province, it is famed for its irrigation and cultivation structures. It is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the Great Lakes region.Sometime in the 15th century, an iron age farming community with a large continuous village area on the foot slopes of the Rift Valley escarpment, housing several thousand people developed an intricate irrigation and cultivation system, involving a stone-block canal channeling water from the “Crater Highlands” rift escarpment to stone lined cultivation terraces .

Kondoa Rock Arts – The Kondoa Rock Arts Sites (a.k.a) Kondoa Irangi Cave Paintings are a series of caves carved into the side of a hill looking out over the steppe, approximately nine kilometres east of the main highway from Kondoa to Arusha, about 20 km north of Kondoa, in Tanzania. The caves contain paintings, some of which are believed by the Tanzania Antiquities Department to date back more than 1500 years. The exact number of rock art sites in the Kondoa area is currently uncertain, however estimates are of between 150 and 450 of the decorated rock shelters. The paintings depict elongated people, animals, and hunting scenes. Tourists are asked to report to the Antiquities Department office on the highway at the village of Kolo and ask for the cave paintings guide.

Olduvai Gorge – It is one of the most important paleo anthropological sites in the world and has been instrumental in furthering the understanding of early human evolution. This site was occupied by Homo habilis approximately 1.9 million years ago, Paranthropus boisei 1.8 million years ago, and Homo erectus 1.2 million years ago. Homo sapiens are dated to have occupied the site 17,000 years ago. Olduvai Gorge is a steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley that stretches through eastern Africa. It is in the eastern Serengeti Plains in Arusha Region,Tanzania and is about 48 km (30 mi) long. It is located 45 km (28 mi) from the Laetoli archaeological site.

Ivuna – It is an administrative ward in the Mbozi District of the Mbeya Region of Tanzania. According to the 2002 census, the ward has a total population of 21,690. The Ivuna salt flats, south-east of Lake Rukwa have been exploited for salt since the early 13th century, or before, to the 15th century. Significant amounts of iron age pottery have been found here.

Laetoli – It is a site in Tanzania, dated to the Plio-Pleistocene and famous for its hominin footprints, preserved in volcanic ash (Site G). The site of the Laetoli footprints is located 45 km south ofOlduvai gorge. The location was excavated by archaeologist Mary Leakey in 1978. “The Laetoli Footprints” received significant recognition by the public, providing convincing evidence of bipedalism in Pliocene hominids based on analysis of the impressions.

Palace of Husuni Kubwa – The Palace of Husuni Kubwa is a ruined structure on the island of Kilwa Kisiwani, in Tanzania. The majority of the palace was erected in the 14th century by Sultan al-Hasan ibn Sulaiman, who also built an extension to the nearby Great Mosque of Kilwa, although portions may date back to the 13th century. The palace was inhabited only for a brief period of time, and abandoned before its completion.The structure was built out of coral stone on a high bluff overlooking the Indian Ocean. It consists of three major elements: a south court, used primarily for commerce; a residential complex including over one hundred individual rooms; and a wide stairway leading down a mosque that was situated on the beach. Other notable features include pavilion, which likely served as a reception hall, and an octagonal swimming pool.

Kalambo Falls – The Kalambo Falls on the Kalambo River is a 772ft (235m) single drop waterfall in Tanzania, very near the border with Zambia at the southeast end of Lake Tanganyika. The falls are some of the tallest uninterrupted falls in Africa (after South Africa’s Tugela Falls, Ethiopia’s Jin Bahir Falls and some more waterfalls). Downstream of the falls the Kalambo Gorge which has a width of about 1 km and a depth of up to 300 m runs for about 5 km before opening out into the Lake Tanganyika rift valley. Archaeologically, Kalambo Falls is one of the most important sites in Africa. It has produced a sequence of past human activity stretching over more than two hundred and fifty thousand years. It was first excavated in 1953 by John Desmond Clark who recognised archaeological activity around a small basin lake upstreams from the falls. Late Acheulian stone tools, hearths and well preserved organic objects were found there including a wooden club and digging sticks and evidence of fruit consumption. Tools excavated from Kalambo Gorge have been dated to around 300,000 BC, and the hearths indicate people were using fire systematically there some 60,000 years ago.

Kaole – It is a small town and an archaeological site in Tanzania, located three miles east of Bagamoyo, on the Indian Ocean coast. The Kaole Ruins, dating back to a period between the 13th century and the 16th century, are what remains of an ancient muslim Shirazi settlement. The archaeological site has two mosques and 30 tombs. One of the buildings is the most ancient known mosque in East Africa. Tombs are built with coral rag, with columns; according to oral history, the diwaniis are buried there, i.e., the local sultans, descendants of Ali Muhamad al-Hatim al-Barawi. A small museum has been established, where some artifacts are exposed that were found in the ruins. Some of these artifacts areChinese and thus provide evidence of ancient commercial relationships between the swahili/shirazi civilization and the Far East.

Mumba Cave – Mumba Cave or Mumba Rockshelter is an archeological site located in Tanzania near Lake Eyasi, that was found to contain important Middle Stone Age and Late Stone Age artifacts. The cave was originally excavated by Ludwig Kohl-Larsen and his wife Margitin the 1930s.

Quanbalu Ruins – The ruins of Qanbalu or Quanbalu are located on the west coast of the Tanzanian island of Pemba, part of the Zanzibar Archipelago. They lie close to the village of Ngagu at the end of a long narrow peninsula known as Ras Mkumbuu, which lies to the northwest of the town of Chake-Chake.The ruins are the remains of Africa’s oldest known Muslim town, which may have been founded as early as the eighth century. Early writers mention the town and Matambwe Island, which lies to the north, as the two major trading centres of Pemba. Both these sites have been carbon dated, with results indicating that they were in use in the ninth and tenth centuries. The town seems to have declined for reasons not yet known around the sixteenth century. The ruins mainly date from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, though there are indications that they were built over older foundations. Notable among these ruins are those of a large mosque which was for some time the largest structure of its type in sub-Saharan Africa.

Kunduchi Ruins – The extraordinary Kunduchi Ruins lie 22 km north of Dar es Salaam . Reputed to be some of the most exceptional examples of 18th and 19th century arabic tombs on the Eastern coastal shores, Kunduchi has a unique feel about it. Several grave sites have distinctive coral stone pillars or large, ornately carved coral stone tombs inset with decorative Chinese celadon and blue and white porcelain bowls. Different theories attempt to explain the presence of the porcelain, one of which suggests that the bowls were purely decorative. Another puts forwad the idea that they are indicators of the deceased’s wealth and standing in the community. Kunduchi is one of the last sites where many of the bowls are intact. If you plan to visit the ruins, you need to stop at the Mtongani police station and pick up an escort. To reach the ruins, drive into Kunduchi village and turn left at the big baobab.

Isimila Stone Age Site – Stone Age tools were discovered here in 1951. Many fossilized bones were also found in the area, among them those of a mammal related to the modern giraffe, but having a much shorter neck, and extinct hippopotamus with unusual periscope-like projections.