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Tanzania says to restore ancient city and help promote tourism

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania is working to restore an ancient city, buried under rocks at Engaruka escarpments of Monduli District, to promote tourism in its recently launched geopark, according to an official from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA).

John Pareso, an official with the NCAA, said on Sunday that efforts to excavate, restore and protect the ruins of ancient stone structures, which are thought to be of the 800-year-old “lost city of Engaruka,” have started under the recently launched Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark.

“Remains of these stone buildings here have been scientifically proved to date back to between 500 and 800 years ago, indicating advanced civilization that may have existed in northern parts of Tanzania nearly one thousand years ago,” he said.

According to Pareso, the ruins also indicate that the people of that era ran a very efficient irrigation system, whose infrastructure can still be seen within the ruins.

Archaeological experts are still trying to find out what caused the ancient Engaruka settlement to be abandoned or destroyed.

Tanzania, with the support from the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) and through the Ngorongoro-Lengai geopark, is working to restore the ruins, which of late have started to attract researchers, scholars and tourists alike.

The newly endorsed UNESCO geopark covers three northern districts of Arusha Region, Monduli, Longido, and Ngorongoro. 

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.

Engaruka is considered one of the most important Iron Age archaeological sites in eastern Africa.


Slowly but surely the ancient city of Engaruka re-emerging from the Tanzanian Iron Age

Engaruka is an abandoned system of ruins in the Great Rift Valley of northern Tanzania

Mary Leakey: Engaruka lion were destroyed in 1935 as vermin by fervent District Officer

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

Henry Fosbrooke and the pride of Engaruka 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."


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