Engaruka

Name ID 162

See also

Hanby, Jeannette & Bygott, David Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Page Number: 12
Extract Date: 1400

Engaruka

the ruined 'city' of Engaruka is at least 500 years old

Extract ID: 220

See also

Marsh, Zoe (editor) East Africa, through Contemporary Records
Extract Author: Erhardt and Rebmann
Page Number: 69d
Extract Date: June 1856

The 'Slug' Map - more detail

Ol Donyo Lengai and Kilimanjaro are both described as Mountains covered by snow.

Mount Meru is also shown.

A region is named Arusa.

Engaruka is marked.

To the west of Ol Donyo Lengai is shown a mountain called Bikiro.

Extract ID: 4053

See also

Gillman, Clement An Annotated List of Ancient and Modern Indigenous Stone Structures in Eastern Africa
Extract Date: 1883 July 5

First 'sighting'

The first to record the existence of these ruins over 60 years ago was Dr. Fischer, who, marching south along the foot of the 'Rift Wall' during the first exploration of Masailand, passed them on the 5th July 1983 and wrote thus

'The ground, covered with crippled mimosa trees [he obviously means acacias - CG], showed yellowish grey loam; at one place peculiar masses of stone became suddenly apparent, rising from the plain to heights up to ten feet. Partly they looked like mouldering tree trunks, partly like the tumbled down walls of ancient castles.'

Extract ID: 1189

See also

Gillman, Clement An Annotated List of Ancient and Modern Indigenous Stone Structures in Eastern Africa
Page Number: 48
Extract Date: 1896-7

expeditions through Masailand

In the three volume account of Drs Scoeller and Kaiser of their great expeditions through Masailand to Uganda in 1896-97 the ruins of 'Ngaruku' are mentioned thus:

No doubt a former settlement must have existed on the site of the present one. Along the mountains exist numerous stone circles and dams which do not derive from the present population.'

Extract ID: 1190

See also

Gillman, Clement An Annotated List of Ancient and Modern Indigenous Stone Structures in Eastern Africa
Page Number: 49
Extract Date: 1904

Jaeger and Uhlig camp at Engaruka

Jaeger merely mentions that he and Uhlig 'found' the Engaruka ruins during their expedition in 1904; they camped on the Engaruka stream on the 29th September, and again on 5th October, but neither Uhlig's otherwise fairly detailed map to the scale of 1 in 150,000 nor Jaeger's later map of 1911, indicate these ruins. Jaeger merely says that they are 'alleged' to be of Tatogo origin.

Extract ID: 1191

See also

Gillman, Clement An Annotated List of Ancient and Modern Indigenous Stone Structures in Eastern Africa
Page Number: 49
Extract Date: 1913

The first detailed description

The first detailed description of what he calls 'the cairn-field of Engaruka' is by Reck who, in 1913, was the first archaeologically-trained observer to examine the site.

Extract ID: 1192

See also

1935 Publishes: Leakey, Louis Preliminary Report on Examination of the Engaruka Ruins


Extract ID: 1209

See also

Leakey, Mary Disclosing the Past
Page Number: 061
Extract Date: 1935

Henry and the Lions

As a place for working and camping Engaruka was superb. .....

Yet even in this beautiful place we suffered one horrifying reminder of the continual clash of interests between man and nature which has destroyed so much of the Africa which once was. Henry Fosbrooke, a former student of Louis's was at that time the local District Officer, and some of the Masai who had their manyattas, or homesteads, near Engaruka had recently complained to him about lions which were attacking their cattle: the trouble must have been quite serious, for normally Masai warriors welcomed the chance to hunt lions themselves. While we were at Engaruka, Henry drove down in a lorry and shot the entire offending pride. He and his wife stayed with us at the camp and Henry proudly exhibited the dead lions, slung into the back of his truck. It was one of the most appalling sights I have ever seen. How many destroyed lions has it taken to bring about today's attitude to them, in which Henry would not have been allowed to do such a thing at all, let alone to do it like an extermination of vermin.

Extract ID: 3425

See also

Cole, Sonia Leakey's Luck
Page Number: 113-114
Extract Date: 1935

Engaruka is in the middle of nowhere

Reck had been to Engaruka in 1913 and told Louis of burial mounds there, and in Arusha Louis had heard reports of a mysterious 'ruined city' capable of housing a million people; there were even rumours of 'inscriptions' (which in fact consist of some pecked lines and marks which mean nothing in any known language). When he was asked by the Tanganyika Government to make a report, therefore, he willingly agreed and set out full of curiosity and anticipation.

Engaruka is about forty miles from a village with a colourful market known as Mto wa Mbu, 'River of mosquitoes', where everyone stops on the way to Olduvai to buy tomatoes and bananas. Engaruka itself is in the middle of nowhere, on the floor of the Rift Valley between Lakes Manyara and Natron. There is a track of sorts leading to it, but even today it is one of the dustiest in East Africa, which is saying a good deal, and the only landmarks are the occasional magnificent baobab tree. When Louis and Mary went there in 1935 the track was almost invisible. Suddenly, with no apparent reason, in the middle of the bush there is a cluster of huts; but in fact there is a very good reason for their presence, for just behind them a glorious stream of clear water cascades down the scarp of the Rift, That is why a settlement existed at Engaruka in iron age times, and why there is one there today. On the slopes above the present village is a huge complex of stone walls, hut floors and cairns, now known to spread over ten square miles. By building a system of terraces and ditches, crops could be irrigated from the river (by damming the stream it is still possible to divert water along the ancient channels). Louis and Mary excavated a couple of cairns but were disappointed to find no burials in them.

They also dug beneath a hut floor, where they found only a few potsherds, beads and scraps of iron. In his estimate of the number of huts in the hill ruins, which he put at 6,000-7,000, Louis exaggerated. Allowing for five people per house this would give a population of some 30,000, with another 3,000 or so living in the valley ruins below. 'There is a vast job to be done here,' he concluded. 'The surveying alone would take one man about two years to do really properly,'" However, he decided that this was protohistory, not prehistory, and he was not the man to do it. It was another thirty years before anyone tackled Engaruka.

Extract ID: 3336

See also

Gillman, Clement An Annotated List of Ancient and Modern Indigenous Stone Structures in Eastern Africa
Page Number: 50
Extract Date: 1935

Leakey investigates

Hurrying to the site as quickly as possible, Dr. Leakey of Nairobi devoted a fortnight to its investigation, resulting in a preliminary report.

.... He estimates the number of the inhabitants as 'probably between thirty and forty thousand' and that of the houses, (exclusive of the cairns) in the main city and in the valley at seven thousand. As regards the age of the ruins, he considers them from three hundred to one hundred and fifty years old.

Extract ID: 1194

See also

Gillman, Clement An Annotated List of Ancient and Modern Indigenous Stone Structures in Eastern Africa
Page Number: 50
Extract Date: 1935

Discovered again

After a time lapse of twenty-two years the Engaruka site was once more 'discovered' by M.A. Wetherall of Moshi and the Italian Commander Del Grande, in July 1935.

.....A 'conservative estimate' by both Wetherall and Del Grande credits 'this early metroplis' with a population of 'at least a quarter of a million inhabitants as a centre of considerable agricultural activity' [sic!]

Extract ID: 1193

See also

Gillman, Clement An Annotated List of Ancient and Modern Indigenous Stone Structures in Eastern Africa
Page Number: 50
Extract Date: 1943

recent discovery by Watermeyer

Next, we have the quite recent discovery by Watermeyer and Elliott of a ruins site, 'as a whole resembling that of Engaruka', about three miles north of the present oasis of Mto-wa-Mbu on the Arusha-Oldeani road at the foot of the 'Rift Wall'.

.... it seems highly desirable that this site should be closely examined by an experienced observer.

Extract ID: 1214

See also

Tanganyika Guide
Page Number: 069
Extract Date: 1948

Typical safari starting from Arusha

It would take a book to describe the variety of sport to be had in the areas where shooting is permissible, and there is only space here to give a brief sketch of a typical safari starting from Arusha by car and motoring by way of Engaruka, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti plains.

Arusha itself may be reached by air, by road or by railway. Ten miles out of the town antelope, giraffe and zebra can often be seen. Forty miles further comes the first view of the Rift Wall, that great crack in the Earth's surface which cuts through Africa almost from north to south. Lake Manyara can be seen under the dark shadow of the Rift. At seventy miles out the road turns northwards along the Rift Valley through great herds of game to Engaruka. On the left there is the great wall of the Rift Valley, and away on the right is open undulating country, with many herds of game and Masai cattle sharing the grazing and living in harmony.

The green swamp and forest belt at Kitete conceals many buffalo and rhinoceros, and elephant and hippopotamus occasionally visit the place. To the right the plains are covered with hundreds of termite hills. Grant's gazelle, ostrich and impala will be seen on the way as well as giraffe, accompanied often by their young, who gaze with soft eyes at the car and sometimes allow it to pass within a few yards of them.

At Engaruka there are stone ruins of a great village where the inhabitants were perhaps once concentrated for defence against the Masai. On a frontage of about three miles tier upon tier of terracing is still clearly visible and closer inspection shows the rock-built homes, the graves and the huge cairns of a vanished people. From Engaruka Masai bomas may also be visited without difficulty.

During a stay of a week in this neighbourhood lion, zebra, Grant's and Thomson's gazelle, impala, wildebeest, rhinoceros, oryx and gerenuk may be obtained.

From here Maji Moto, sixty miles south along the Rift Wall, may be visited. The hot springs there seem to be a natural spa for wild life and there will be found spoor of elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and all kinds of smaller game. The place is a game photographer's paradise.

Lake Manyara, seen from the hot springs, has a great variety of birds, including thousands of flamingoes. On from here the route lies over the Rift Wall up steep slopes to the Ngorongoro Crater.

The first view of the crater is magnificent ; it is one of the greatest in the world, the floor, twelve miles across, lies 2,000 feet below the precipitous walls, covering an area of approximately 100 square miles. The drive along to the Ngorongoro Crater Rest Camp is one thrill after another, each succeeding view of the crater being more beautiful than the last. Suddenly the most delightful camp is sighted-a group of about twenty log cabins, in the most wonderful natural setting. A night or two may be spent here* and the great concentration of game on the crater floor may be watched with glasses. Thousands of animals make their home in the crater throughout the year.

Then the way leads into the Serengeti Plains which may one day become the greatest national park in the world. In a stay of a few days in the Serengeti great concentrations of game will be seen, It is not uncommon for visitors to photograph as many as fifty different lions in a stay of only a few days, and the masses of game have to be seen to be believed.

On the return route the visitor can go to Mongalla, west of Oldeani Mountain, where hippopotamus, rhinoceros and other big game may be hunted, then pass through Mbulu, camp in the game area at Basotu Lake, go past Hanang Mountain and Babati Lake and so back into Arusha. Such a trip gives a month of enjoyment . which for the lover of wild life cannot be surpassed, and it is only one of many that can be made in the game areas of Tanganyika Territory, the finest hunting ground in the world.

Extract ID: 4355

See also

Tanganyika Guide
Page Number: 71

Engaruka

At Engaruka there are stone ruins of a great village where the inhabitants were perhaps once concentrated for defence against the Masai. On a frontage of about three miles tier upon tier of terracing is still clearly visible and closer inspection shows the rock-built homes, the graves and the huge cairns of a vanished people. From Engaruka Masai bomas may also be visited without difficulty.

Extract ID: 5636

See also

CD Groliers Encyclopedia
Extract Author: Brian M. Fagan

Archaeological investigations at Engaruka took place from 1964 to . . .

Archaeological investigations at Engaruka took place from 1964 to 1966.

Extract ID: 1288

See also

Horrobin, David A Guide to Kenya and Northern Tanzania
Page Number: 181

Engaruka

This interesting historic site in Masailand may be reached by taking a track which leads northwards from the village of Mto wa Mbu which is at the entrance to the Lake Manyara National Park. On a hill side are the reamins of what was evidently at one time a large and stabl;e settlement. The origins of the settlement are unkown but it was certainly not built by the Masai. It is possible but by no means certain that it was established by the Iraqw (Mbulu) people who now live on the plateau between Manyara and Ngorongoro.

Extract ID: 2912

See also

CD Groliers Encyclopedia
Extract Author: Brian M. Fagan

Engaruka, an Iron Age site in East Africa

Engaruka, an Iron Age site in East Africa, lies between Lakes Natron and Manyara in northern Tanzania. A perennial stream was the focus of the settlement. The hillsides on both banks were terraced with stone walling to from those of other early farming settlements in East Africa. The site may have been associated with southern Cushites who preceded peoples related to the Nilotes in the area.make platforms for houses and irrigated terraces for gardens. Paths and irrigation channels lead outward to about 500 dwellings ranged along the hillsides. Field systems with stone boundaries extend across an area of about 13 sq km (about 5 sq mi) on the valley floor. Circular stone cattle enclosures also dot the valley. Radiocarbon-dating has placed Engaruka between the 4th and 15th centuries AD. The site remains somewhat of a puzzle, for its pottery traditions differ

Extract ID: 1287

See also

Finke, Jens The Rough Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 446 (ed 1)
Extract Date: 2003

The Iraqw

Karatu's main tribes are the cattle-herding Barbaig (see p.262) and the agricultural Iraqw. The history of the 200,000-strong Iraqw, who occupy much of the area between Karatu and Mbulu town in the south, is a fascinating enigma, though the theory that they originally came from Mesopotamia (Iraq, no less) is too simplistic to be likely.

Nonetheless, the Iraqw language is related to the "southern Cushitic" tongues spoken in Ethiopia and northern Kenya, meaning that at some point in their history they migrated southwards along the Rift Valley, something you can also tell by their facial features, which are finer than those of their neighbours and similar to those of Ethiopians.

Exactly when the Iraqw arrived in Tanzania is not known, but a number of clues offered by their agricultural practices - the use of sophisticated terracing to limit soil erosion, complex irrigation techniques, crop rotation and the use of manure from stall-fed cattle - provide uncanny parallels to the ruined irrigation channels, terraces and cattle pens of Engaruka (see p.437), at the foot of the Rift Valley escarpment.

Iraqw oral legend makes no mention of a place called Engaruka, but that's hardly surprising given that Engaruka is a Maasai word. Instead, legends talk of a place called Ma'angwatay, which may have been Engaruka. At the time, the Iraqw lived under a chief called Haymu Tipe. In what is suggestive of a power struggle or civil war, the legend says that Haymu Tipe's only son, Gemakw, was kidnapped by a group of young Iraqw warriors and hidden in the forest. Finally locating him, Haymu Tipe was given a curious ultimatum: unless he brought to the warriors an enemy to fight, his son would be killed. So Haymu Tipe asked the cattle-herding Barbaig, who at the time occupied the Ngorongoro highlands, to come to fight, which they did. Many people were killed, and it seems that the Iraqw lost the battle, as Haymu Tipe, his family and his remaining men fled to a place called Guser-Twalay, where Gemakw - who had been released as agreed - became ill and died. Haymu Tipe and his men continued on to a place called Qawirang in a forest west of Lake Manyara, where they settled. The legend then becomes confusing, but it appears that Qawirang is the same as the most recent Iraqw "homeland", the lrqwar Da'aw valley, 70krn south of Karatu, where the Iraqw settled at least 200 years ago, shortly after Engaruka was abandoned. Subsequently, population pressure in lrqwar Da'aw led to further migrations; the first Iraqw to settle in Karatu arrived in the 1930s.

For more about Iraqw history, see Bjem-Erik Hanssen's "Three stories from the mythology of the Iraqw people" at www.leopardmannen.no/hanssen/tanz-eng.htm.

But the best place to learn more about the Iraqw is Sandemu Iraqw Art and Culture Promoters Centre at Njia Panda village, 9km west of Karatu (turn left at the junction for Mang'ola and it's 1 km further on). This recently established community based initiative aims to promote and preserve Iraqw culture. The centre is built in the form of a traditionally fortified house, nestling so snugly into the hillside that it only needs a front wall (a construction that is remarkably similar to the former fortified houses of the Rangi; see p.256). Historically, fortification and camouflage was essential to avoid the warlike attention of the Maasai and Barbaig. The centre also contains an underground bunker with escape tunnels, which contain a display of weapons, tools, grinding stones and furniture. The centre supports its work by selling crafts: mats, baskets, traditional clothes and jewellery, clay pots, gourds and calabashes.

Camping should be possible (but enquire beforehand in Karatu), and there's also Doffa Campsite (see p.445), 500m west of the junction to Mang'ola. Given enough time, the centre can arrange performances of traditional music.

Extract ID: 4286

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 02c


In the 2nd/lst centuries BC, Cushites - whose present survivors are the Burungi, Gorowa, Iraqw and Mbugu peoples - moved from southern Ethiopia into the Tanzania Highlands.

Further waves of iron-working Bantu people coming from West Africa left traces of an important settlement at Engaruka, north of Lake Manyara with more than 5000 acres of cultivated and irrigated land and Iron Age hand axes and tools were found at Isimila near Iringa and Katuruka west of Bukoba. Some skeletons were unearthed at Naberera.

Extract ID: 3990
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