Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MEDLAND_HORN.AFRICA (Medieval landscapes in the Horn of Africa. State, territory and materiality of the Adal Sultanate (15th-16th centuries AD).)
Periodo di rendicontazione: 2018-09-01 al 2020-08-31
Raising from previous experience in Somaliland, the project challenges preconceived ideas such as the dichotomies between urban dwellers and nomads or the assumed irreversibility of urbanization processes. It also approaches current challenges in the region: religious conversion, environmental stress and climatic change, perceptions of space and territory, and the relationships between rural and urban populations. Many of these issues were as present during the period of the Adal Sultanate as they are nowadays, and the research conducted by MEDLANDS can shed light on some of the problems affecting the region, leading to better ways of understanding and managing its natural and cultural resources. The Project will also contribute to build a more accurate, historicised discourse on Somalia, a region whose deeper past is poorly known.
The objectives of the project are manifold, but can be summarized in three: 1) the acquisition and processing of environmental, archaeological and historical data about the sultanate of Adal 2) the development of methodologies to integrate these data and 3) the development of an interpretative framework for the Sultanate archaeological remains. Aditionally, a parallel goal of the MSCA Individual Fellowship is to foster the development of the individual researcher.
In addition to the research Work Packages, the Fellow has received an extensive training in technical skills – GIS management, photogrammetry and other related software- and has participated in two fieldwork campaigns in Somaliland under the umbrella of the Host Institution and directed by his supervisor. These two campaigns have provided first-hand knowledge on the environment and the materiality of the Sultanate of Adal, as well as an useful network of partners in Somaliland, essential for future projects in the area. In addition, they have trained the Fellow in project management skills that have been fundamental for the Fellow’s future career. The results of these campaigns are being incorporated to those gathered through the Work Packages and will be published in forthcoming papers. The individual researcher has also developed a fruitful collaboration with the Department of Northeast African Archaeology and Cultural Studies of the Humboldt University of Berlin, from which he has received an Honorary Fellowship. As a part of his development as a researcher, the Fellow has also started the supervision of masters and PhD dissertations related to his research. Finally, the participation of the Fellow in academic meetings has helped to enhance the visibility of the project and the importance of the Somaliland medieval heritage.
From a social perspective, the work conducted during these two years has had an important impact in how the Somaliland public –both in Somaliland and abroad- have come to known their archaeological heritage. The development of an active presence in social media has led to widespread interest on the Somaliland archaeology, both at general and institutional levels, and are helping to raise awareness in the protection of the As a result of the activities conducted by the researcher in Somaliland, partnerships have been established with Somaliland authorities regarding the future Somaliland National Museum, the support for the Somaliland Department of Archaeology and the European embassy in Somaliland. These collaborations set the bases for a sustained archaeological research in one of the worst known areas of Africa and will help to implement a direly needed institutional and legal framework to protect the Somaliland heritage.
The most direct evidence of the success of the MEDLANDS project is the award of an ERC Starting Grant to the Fellow to continue his archaeological research in Somaliland. This new project is funded with 1.5 million euros from European research Council, with additional support by the Galician Innovation Agency (GAIN). The StateHorn project grows from the previous MEDLANDS action and will incorporate all the data and experience generated during the Marie Curie Fellowship into a more ambitious 5-years project. Many of the MEDLANDS results will be adapted and expanded for the new project, which will also guarantee that the information generated by this MSCA will continue to be published and disseminated in academic and social forums.