A team of archaeologists has spent two months defying a snake-filled jungle to uncover one of the world's oldest Islamic cities -- Shanga, which lies on a remote Island off the north coast of Kenya close to the Somali border.
AERIAL VIEW Lost city of Shanga and surrounding jungle, northern Kenya
GV Jungle and excavated city ZOOM IN TO Ruins (2 shots)
GV Archaeologist, Mark Horton and assistant, Janet Brooks making sketches of lost city and PAN TO Jungle (2 shots)
GV Excavation, archaeologists and workers removing sand (2 shots)
SV Markings showing depth of hole
TV & SV Labourers with archaeologist in hole clearing site and removing sand (4 shots)
GV Overgrown street with mosque ruins
CU Quiblah (pulpit) in ruins with inscriptions on stone
GV PAN FROM Mosque gate to entrance
GV Excavation in mosque
CU Workers cleaning stone with brushes
CU PAN FROM Waterhole to remains of wall
TV PAN Archaeologist and Kenya National Museums supervisor working on mosque PAN TO Remains of wall with overhanging trees
CU Archaeologist Mark Horton handling spandrels (2 shots)
GV Display niches in walls
GV Horton walking through archway with workers singing whilst clearing site and burning bush (3 shots)
GV Cemetery of Shanga, with tomb-stones and inscriptions (2 shots)
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Background: A team of archaeologists has spent two months defying a snake-filled jungle to uncover one of the world's oldest Islamic cities -- Shanga, which lies on a remote Island off the north coast of Kenya close to the Somali border. Secrets of an ancient civilisation have been trapped for centuries beneath the rich tropical rain forest on the island of Pate. The massive excavation was mounted by archaeologists belonging to Britain's international "Operation Drake" adventure team.
SYNOPSIS: Visnews cameraman Mohamed Amin flew to the island of Pate last week (15 September) to film one of the most significant finds in Islamic archaeological history. Five hundred feet (152 metres) below lay the symmetrical mosaic of Shanga -- the ancient city which had lain abandoned beneath the rich green foliage for more than 500 years. Members of Operation Drake had been cutting back the thick forest for weeks to expose the remains of a once-thriving town of three-thousand citizens. Mark Horton, a young Cambridge archaeologist, was in charge of the complex and often delicate work of uncovering the city ruins and making it possible to restore them. Horton is the cousin of Sir Mortimer Wheeler, a famous and once a controversial figure of British archaeology.
Sand and other rubbish are removed from a hole that is divided on several levels to show the growth of Shanga from the ninth century until its sudden demise in the 15th century. For 600 prosperous years the city's population traded spices and coconuts, ivory and slaves in exchange for pottery, jewellery, and other artifacts. When it vanished almost overnight, it remained only a city of legend recorded in the Chronicles of Pate, a work of Arabian
mythology and fact. But now its secrets, hidden since the middle of the fifteenth century, have been brought to the surface here in 1980.
The ruins of what is known as Friday Mosque and the Quiblah, or pulpit, with its centuries-old inscriptions on the stone. Over the years many people have searched for the ancient city without success. But in the middle of the nineteen-fifties, archaeologist James Kirkman landed on the island shores and stumbled upon its ruins, overgrown in a thick jumble of creeper, bush and weed. Nearly ten years later, a team from the British Institute for East Africa, led by Neville Chittick, cut out part of the tangled jungle to reveal the majesty that had been Shanga.
The jungle grew back swiftly, however, to choke the coral masonry bound together with fragile lime mortar. For many years to come, only the grunt of the bush pig disturbed the nesting vipers and mambas which found sanctuary in the recesses of Shanga's crumbling stonework. Once again Shanga's ghosts were left in peace.
These finely carved pieces of stone are spandrels which decorated the beautifully constructed arches in the city. Behind the months of planning which went into Operation Drake was the purpose of providing young people from all over the world with a challenge that would not only test their courage. It would give a chance of joining the team to communities with very little resources of their own.
It's taken hard, single-minded work -- digging furiously, cutting away thick foliage and burning out the bush -- for Mark Horton's team to complete the project in the allotted eight weeks. It showed the city's first houses were mud and thatch followed by wooden and finally stone houses. The Chronicles of Pate say that sometime in the fifteenth century raiding armies from other islands plundered Shanga and the residents fled from their prosperous city never to return.