Pathways to Statehood: Authority, legitimacy and Social Diversity in the Horn of Africa (11th-16th centuries)

The StateHorn Project presents a radically new, archaeology-based approach to one of the key issues in the contemporary world: the nature and characteristics of weak and failed states. Based in the Horn of Africa, an area widely known for recurrent problems of fragmented systems of governance and challenges of legitimate authority, the StateHorn project will build a new framework for the conceptualisation, study and analysis of state structures in the region. The project focuses on the deeper past, and uses archaeology to focus on the medieval period (1100—1600 AD) in northern Somalia. This period saw the emergence of the defining political, demographic and economic characteristics which have shaped characteristics of statehood in this region until the present day. The project addresses key questions of how states are defined, how their populaces relate to state structures, and how mechanisms of power and authority operate within states.

The project is organised around five core research themes (political territoriality and cultural landscape, material culture, written and oral sources, urbanisation, and trade).The project will combine archaeological information with written historical sources, oral traditions, historical linguistic data, and ethnography to present the most comprehensive study of statehood in the Horn of Africa during the medieval period. It is conceptually and methodologically innovative. The project will also develop a theory of the emergence of traditions of statehood in the Horn of Africa which will play a key role in theoretical discussions of statehood in other regions of the world
01/06/2020 - 30/05/2025
Kind of participation
Funding mode
Public in competition
Research sub-lines
Archaeology of Buildings
Landscape Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes
Material Culture and Formalization Processes of Cultural Heritage
Department of Archaeology. Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Somaliland
Role: Prescriptor
Type: Other
Signatory: Jorge DeTorres-Rodríguez
Axencia Galega de Innovación - GAIN
European Commission
Xunta de Galicia