|Ras Hafun (Ras Xafuun)|
Hafun juts out to the east of the mid-Bari region (in red) of Somalia
|Borders on||Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean|
|Location||Horn of Africa|
|Length||1,100 km (684 mi), north to south|
|Area||220,847 km2 (85,270 sq mi)|
Ras Hafun (Somali: Ras Xaafuun), also known as Cape Hafun, is a promontory in the northeastern Bari region of Somalia. Jutting out into the Indian Ocean, it constitutes the easternmost point in Africa. The area is situated near the Cape Guardafui headland. It is joined to the mainland at the town of Foar by a sand spit 20 km long, 1–3 km in width, and roughly 5 m above sea level. The fishing town of Hafun is located on the promontory, 2 km east of the sand spit.
Antiquity and Middle Ages
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 recovered numerous examples of historical artefacts and structures, including ancient coins, Roman pottery, drystone buildings, cairns, mosques, 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 said 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.
A later expedition in Hafun led by an archaeological team with the University of Michigan excavated Ancient Egyptian, Roman and Persian Gulf pottery. In the 1980s, the British Institute in East Africa also recovered pre-Islamic Partho-Sassanid ceramics from the peninsula, which were dated to the first century BCE and the second through fifth centuries CE.
Early modern and present
During the pre-independence period, Hafun was governed by the Majeerteen Sultanate (Migiurtinia) and was the seat of the polity's capital, Aluula. It later formed a part of Italian Somaliland, when the area was known as Dante.
In December 2004, Hafun was struck by a tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. It was the most affected area on the continent, and the only location west of the Indian subcontinent where the waves pulled away from the shore before rushing in.
- Neville Chittick, An Archaeological Reconnaissance of the Horn: The British-Somali Expedition, (1975), pp.117-133.
- Paul J. J. Sinclair, "Archaeology in Eastern Africa: An Overview of Current Chronological Issues", Journal of African History, 32 (1991), p. 181
- National Review (1965). Somalia Calling the World. p. 25. ISBN http://books.google.ca/books?id=Ll4MAQAAIAAJ Check
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