The Ancient Somali History

(A research and collection made by Wikipedia encyclopedia) – Somalia has been inhabited since the prehistoric (paleonlithic) period. Cave dating said to date back as far as 9,000 BC have been found in the northern part of the country. The most famous of these is the Laas Gaal complex, which contains some of the earliest known rock paintings and descriptions on the African continent.

Teaser Image The Ancient Somali History

Descriptions have been found beneath each of the rock paintings, but the archaeologists have so been unable to decipher this form of ancient writing during the Stone Age. The Harghesian culture flourished here with their respective industries and factories.

Laas Gaal (Laas Geel) is a complex of caves and rock shelters in Somaliland famous for their rock arts. The caves are located in a rural area on the outskirts of Harhgeysa, and contain some of the earliest known cave paintings in the Horn of African continent.

In general, Laas Geel’s rock art is estimated to date back to somewhere between 9,000-8,000 and 3,000 BC. Laas Geel site contains caves sheltering about 10 rock alcoves decorated with Neolithic cave paintings. The coves are located outside Harhgeysa in an area encompassing a nomadic village, the Naasa Hablood hills.

The site overlooks a wide district of countryside where nomads graze their livestock and wild antelope roam the vast landscape. The local nomads use the caves as a shelter when it rained and never paid much attention to the paintings. The site is now guarded by local villagers.


During November and December 2002, an archaeological survey was carried out by a French team in Somalia. The reason for this was to search for rock shelters and caves containing stratified archaeological in-fills and caves containing capable of documenting the period when production economy appeared in this part Africa (circa 5,000-3,000) BC.

During the course of the survey, the French archaeological team discovered the Laas Geel cave paintings, encompassing an area of 10 rock alcoves. The painting, in an excellent state of preservation, show ancient humans of the area raising their hands and worshiping humbless cows with large lyre-shaped horns.

However, rock art had been known to the local Somali people for centuries before the French discovery. Yet the existence of the site has not been broadcasted to the international community. In November 2003, a mission returned to Laas Geel and a team of experts undertook a detailed study of the paintings and their prehistorical context. There are a number of other sites around Harhgeysa with similar cave paintings.

The Somali Ancient History

The Somalian architecture, maritime history and military Strength. 

Ancient pyramid structure, tombs and stone walls, such as the wagaade wall found in Somalia are evidence of ancient sophisticated civilization that once thrived in the Somali Peninsula. The findings of archaeological excavations and research in Somalia show that this ancient civilization had had a an ancient writing system that remains undeciphered and the people enjoyed a lucrative trading relationship with ancient Egypt and Mycenaean Greece since at least the 2nd millennium BC, which supports the view of Somalia being the ancient kingdom of Punt.

Some historical citations refer to the land that encompasses the present Eritrea, Maakhir and Alula town. The Puntites traded not only in their own produce of incense, ebony and short-horned cattle, but also in goods from other neighboring regions. According to the temple reliefs at Deir Bahari-the Queen Hatshepsut burial site in Egypt, the land of Punt was ruled at that time by King Parahu and Queen Ati.

Through wars and conquest, old city states are destroyed and new ones take place, and the ancient Somali   timeline history is considerably long and fragmented.

Herodotus (the Greek historian) spoke of Macrobians, an ancient people and kingdom postulated to have been located on the Somali Peninsula during the 1st millennium BC. They are mentioned as being a nation of people that had mastered with the average Macrobian longevity till the age of 120. They were said to be the tallest and handsomest of all men.

Somalia at Medieval Period

Adal State, Ajuuraan State and Warsangeli State 

The history of Islam in the Horn of Africa is as old as the religion itself. The early persecuted Muslims fled to Axumite port City of Zeila in present day of Somalia to seek protection from the Quraysh infidels at the court of Axumite emperor in modern Ethiopia. Some of the Muslims that were granted protection are said to have settled several parts in the Horn of Africa to promote the religion. The victory of Muslims over Quraysh in the century had a significant impact on Somalian merchants and sailors as their Arab trading partners had now all accepted Islam and the major trading routes in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea now became part trade network of Pax Islamica.

Through commerce, Islam spread amongst the Somali population in the coastal cities of Somalia. Instability in Arabian Peninsula saw several migrations of Arab families to Somalian coastal cities, who then contributed another significant element to the growing popularity of Islam in the Somali peninsula.

In the Northern Somalia, Adal, the present Audal state, was in its early stages as a small trading community established by the newly converted Horn of African Muslim merchants, who were predominantly Somali, according to Arab and Somali chronicles. The century between 1150 and 1250 marked a decisive turn in the role of Islam in Somali history. The Adalite then came under the influence of the expanding Horn of African kingdom of Ifat, and proposed under its patronage and the capital of Ifat was Zeila. The Adal sultanate was now a center of commercial empire stretching from Cape Guardafui to Hadiya

For many years, Mogadishu stood as the pre-eminent city in the Balad-ul Berber (the land of Berbers), which was the Medieval Arab term for the Horn of Africa. The Sultanate of Mogadishu became the center of Islam on the East African coast, and the Somali merchants established a colony in Mozambique to extract gold from the Monomopatan mines in Sofala. Following his visit to the city, the 12 century Syrian historian Yaqut al-Hamawi wrote that Mogadishu was inhabited by dark-skinned Berbers, believed to be the ancestors of modern Somalia.

Camel Domestication & Use

Ancient Somalis domesticated the camel sometimes between the 3rd & 2nd millennium BC, from where it spread to the ancient Egypt and North Africa.

In the classical period, the Somalian city states of Mosaylon, Opone, Malao, Sarapion, Mundus and Tabae all located along the  Somali coast developed a lucrative trade network connecting with merchants from Phoenicia, Ptolemic Egypt, Greece, Parthian Persia, Sheba, Nabataca, and the Roman naval used the ancient Somali maritime vessels known as Beden to transport their cargo.

After the Roman conquest of the Nabataean Empire and the Roman naval presence at Aden to curb piracy, Arab merchants barred Indian merchaants from trading in the free port cities of Arabian Peninsula because of the nearly Roman presence. However, they continued in the port cities of the Somali Peninsula, which was free from any Roman threat or spies.

The reason of barring Indian ships from entering the wealthy Arabian port cities was to protect and hide the exploitive trade practices of the Somali and the Arab merchants in the extremely lucrative ancient Red Sea-Mediterranean sea commerce. These Indian merchants for centuries brought large quantities of cinnamon from Ceylon and the Far East to Somalian and Arabian commercial ports. This is said to have been one of the most remarkable secrets of the Red Sea port cities of Arabian and the Horn of Africa in their trade with the Roman and Greek world.

The Romans and the Greeks believed that the source of the cinnamon has been a Somalian product, but in reality, the highly valued produce was brought to Somali Peninsula by way of Indian ships through Somali and Arab traders. Indian/Chinese cinnamon also fetched high prices at North Africa, the near East and Europe, which made the cinnamon trade a very profitable for the Somali merchants through whose hands the large quantities shipped across to the ancient land routes.

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