Cape Hafun, Somalia  

Ras Hafun is home to numerous ancient structures and ruins. The peninsula is believed to be the location of the old trade emporium of Opone. The latter is mentioned in the anonymous Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, written in the first century CE. Opone is described therein as a busy port city, strategically located on the trade route that spanned the length of the Indian Ocean’s rim. Merchants from as far afield as Indonesia and Malaysia passed through the settlement. As early as 50 CE, the area was well known as a center for the cinnamon trade, along with the barter of cloves and other spices, ivory, exotic animal skins and incense.

In the 1970s, a Somali-British archaeological expedition in Hafun and other parts of northern Somalia, led by Neville Chittick, recovered numerous examples of historical artefacts and structures, including ancient coins, Roman pottery, drystone buildings, cairns, masjids, walled enclosures, standing stones and platform monuments. Many of the finds were of pre-Islamic origin and associated with city-states and trading centers described in ancient documents. The Damo site, in particular, was suggested by Chittick to correspond with the Periplus’ “Market and Cape of Spices”. Some of the smaller artefacts that the company found were subsequently deposited for preservation at the British National Museum.

Epic Somalia Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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