The Project “StateHorn: Pathways to Statehood: Authority, Legitimacy and Social Diversity in the Horn of Africa (11th-16th centuries)” aims to analyse the reasons for failure in the contemporary states in the Horn of Africa through the study of their historical dynamics during the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Age.
This period of time under study –approximately from the 11th to the 16th centuries CE- witnessed the emergence and consolidation of a score of Muslim states which for 500 years were able to control large regions, provide stability and prosperity to their citizens and establish complex diplomatic and economical links with the Mediterranean, the Near East, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The former stability of these states contrasts with the challenges that face the states in the region today, with Somalia being the epitome of a failed state.
With the help of archaeological research, the StateHorn project will document the strategies that helped medieval states in the Horn of Africa survive and thrive and from this past experience it will draw lessons that can contribute towards a better management of the problems related to statehood in one of the world’s most convulsed regions.
Left: Medieval religious settlement at Dameraqad. Right: Nomad cairn in central Somaliland. ©Incipit Archaeological Project in Somaliland.
The StateHorn project is organised around five main points of research: landscape and territory, urbanism and settlements, material culture, trade, and oral and written sources.
The project combines a wide variety of methodologies and techniques including drone-based surveys, GIS, chemical analyses of pottery and glasses, faunal and archaeobotanic studies, compilations of oral and written texts and excavations in sites of different sizes and functions and geographical emplacements.
The StateHorn Project focuses primarily on the medieval states of the Horn of Africa. Yet, its goals extend beyond the study of a society long time gone. Indeed, the project aims to formulate questions and to propose alternative ways to understand the functioning of the states in Africa and in other places where states face problems of legitimacy and authority. In so doing, the project can contribute to elaborate new approaches that help in improving the lives of millions of people in the Horn of Africa and in other regions of the world.
Overview of the StateHorn Project including research threads, methodologies, archaeological sites and main research topics. Original design ©Juan Pablo venditti
In 2019, he was awarded with a ERC Starting Grant to launch StateHorn, a new project which will study the origins and development of medieval states in the Horn of Africa to understand the reasons of current state failure in this region. In addition to the Horn of Africa, he has participated in or co-directed in long term projects in Sudan, Morocco and Mozambique, and was part of the African Rock Art Image project at the British Museum, a project which catalogued and studied a collection of 24,000 images of African rock art throughout the continent.
As the new senior technician of StateHorn, he will have many responsibilities supporting the different research areas of the project. In addition to participating in the fieldwork during the next years and preparing all the cartography for the project, he will develop a GIS which will be the base for our study of the territory of the medieval Somaliland.
In StateHorn, Andreu will use his knowledge of the history of the Horn of Africa to support the archaeological research, providing complementary perspectives on the data collected through excavations and surveys. In addition to studying medieval and modern texts about the region, he will analyze the vast literature and cartography produced in the 19th and 20th by travellers, explorers and colonial agents and thus help reconstructing the social, economic and cultural dynamics that were at work in the region prior to the arrival of the colonial powers. His work will be specially valuable in shedding light onto such areas of research as the toponymy of the region, the oral traditions and genealogies.
Dr. Dualeh plays an invaluable work in our relationships with local authorities and communities, explaining our work and easing the development of the excavations and surveys. He is also a very active defender of Somalilands’s heritage, working very closely with the Somali Association of Archaeology and the National Museum of Somaliland. He will collaborate with the StateHorn project as our liaison with the Somaliland authorities and institutions, and as a senior advisor for the archaeological research.
Back in Spain she worked as a technician at the Institute of Heritage Science (Spanish National Research Council) for two years. She carried out diverse tasks for Incipit projects such as data collection, processing and analyses; collaboration on the organisation of a congress; administration support; support for some publications, congress attendance and presentations etc. She was also the Incipit community manager, In Statehorn project she will provide day-to-day admin and planning support to the project management.
As the director of the Spanish Archaeological Project in Somaliland, Alfredo will continue to provide all his expertise and knowledge to StateHorn, and his presence will ensure the best coordination between both projects and archaeological teams.
In StateHorn, Pastor will provide an invaluable support and assessment as a GIS and Remote Sensing specialist in several of the research areas of the project, including the acquisition of satellite images and aerial photographs, the development and use of the StateHorn GIS database and the improvement of our analysis of images recorded through the use of Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV’s).