“A place to learn Shirazi culture”
Tongoni Ruins are situated 21km south of Tanga City along the Tanga-Pangani road. The ruins are surrounded by baobab trees and a stand of mangroves along the Indian Ocean. The ruins at Tongani are one of the most famous ruins in the history of the Shirazi people, who lived along the Indian Ocean Coast of East Africa. It is believed that Tongoni Ruins were one of the first Shirazi settlements, which depicts the Shirazi culture. The attractions in the area include old graves, the remains of the mosque, and
about 20 overgrown Shirazi pillar-style tombs, the largest collections of such tombs on the East African Coast. Both the mosque and tombs are believed to have been built either in the 14th or 15th centuries. Beyond the ruins is a fishing village where the cultural and traditional activities of some descendants of the Shirazi people who lived in the ruins can be experienced.

The Tongoni Ruins (Magofu ya kale ya Tongoni in Swahili) are a 15th-century Swahili ruins of a mosque and forty tombs located in Tongoni ward, Tanga District, inside the Tanga Region of Tanzania.

The largest and possibly most significant Swahili site in Tanzania is Tongoni, which is located 25 kilometers north of the Pangani River. Overlooking Mtangata Bay, about forty standing tombs and a Friday Mosque of thenorthern” style occupy a third of a hectare.

People from the area continue to worship there spiritually. They bury their departed family members to the south of the historic tombs. The area was a different place four to five centuries ago. Contrary to its almost unnoticed presence today, it was a prosperous and respected Swahili trading center during the 15th century.

Most of the ruins have not yet been uncovered. The site is a registered National Historic Site.

Tongoni Ruins

More than 40 miles to the north of Muhembo is Kilole Bay, where Tongoni Ruins are located on a low embankment along the southwest side of the bay.

The bay is protected by peninsulas from brisk monsoon winds. The foreshore of the location is covered in mangroves. Tongoni, the village of Mtangata, and its about 3,500 inhabitants, most of whom are cassava and coconut farmers and fishermen, are surrounded by scattered trees (baobabs, tamarinds, and palms). Along the bay, sandy soils predominate, particularly at Vumbani in the southeast of Mtangata.

The littoral is characterized by a limestone basement covered by loams and clay loams. On a Pleistocene terrace that overlooks Mtangata and the ocean.
vastness to the east, residents of the wider countryside, including those who self-identify as Zigua, Digo, and Nyamwezi (the latter being recent migrants), produce maize and vegetables and gather firewood. This shoreline is dotted with freshwater wells, some of which have recently become salty. Near the north is the settlement of Sadani.

Archaeological findings Important discoveries were made in shovel test pits. The researchers found numerous artifacts to the north, south, and west of the old mosque. Typical Swahili ornamentation, such as punctures or stamps of dots along or below vessel necks, can be seen on local vessels.

Additionally, one STP located west of the mosque produced a piece of gneiss grindstone, a raw material found only near mountains. Between Mtangata and Vumbani, the side surface is covered in dozens of beads and a few coins from the late eighteenth century.

At Vumbani, a subsurface test turned up bits of Indian ceramics, Chinese celadon, blue-green Islamic monochrome, and coiled and drawn glass beads.

Researchers have documented about 7,000 locally produced ceramics in Tongoni, 10.7% of which are diagnoses. The entire assembly is best exemplified by Unit 3 of the site. There are 328 diagnostics altogether, including 4 undecorated bases, 98 decorated body sherds, 115 adorned rims, and 112 undecorated rims. Local ceramics typically have a surface color that ranges from brown to black (although there are a few orange instances). Cores are grittier and typically dark (brown, black, or
grey). Ceramic materials contain 2–4% quartz temper.

Additionally, the group gathered beads and foreign ceramics. The latter makes up about 1.2%  of the sherds that were excavated. There are several different sorts at the location, the majority of which are blue-green Islamic monochromes or other Middle Eastern variants. Chinese celadons and blue-and-white are also widely used. The fourteenth to seventeenth centuries are when these pottery varieties were produced.
Additionally, the higher strata contain a small number of European potteries from the late 18th to early 19th centuries.

One unusual stone of unknown material, two smoothed sharpening stones, a group of coral fragments partially encircling an ash pit, huge local sherds (many decorated), one blue glass bead, one faceted carnelian tube bead, and an oyster nut seed are among the special discoveries. The scientists also discovered a little engraving of a human face on the jaw of a parrotfish (Family Scaridae) and a bone hairpin.

An ash lens, several big shells, including conchs, a gneiss grinding stone, a grinding or sharpening stone with an unknown red stain, a sizable piece of slag, a cow vertebra, six glass beads, one ivory bead, and two oyster nut seeds. Collectively, the people of
Mtangata concluded that such discoveries were the home of a healer or other revered community members. The carved face, the faceted carnelian bead that Zigua healers have worn in the past, and the oyster nut seeds all have intriguing meanings.

Together, these artifacts show that Tongoni was inhabited from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century until the seventeenth century. This timeline is supported by the mosque type and the Chittick (1959) account. Even though this collection only represents a small portion of an excavation, differences in the character and abundance of various vessel forms, fish and non-fish bones, shellfish, and particular artifact types show that Tongoni has changed over time. For the majority of the time that Tongoni was inhabited, people lived in wattle-and-daub houses to the west and northwest of the main coral ruins.


Tongoni was established around the tenth century by Swahili residents as part of the Swahili city-states dotted along the East African coast. The Swahili period (1250–1550 C.E.) saw connections between regional groups and societies in the Indian Ocean; however, they were only moderately intense. Thus, theGolden Age” of the Swahili (1250–1350–1550 C.E., but especially the earlier centuries within this range) influenced littoral settlers in northeastern Tanzania, although not nearly to the extent felt at Kilwa on the southern Swahili coast (where the gold trade flourished 1200–1350 C.E.) or at Mombasa and Malindi in Kenya.

Late in this era, Tongoni and Swahili villages on Tanga Island (in the harbor of Tanga Town) also began to grow into prominent towns. Mombasa, in particular, developed into a significant power. Tongoni may have had the chance to escape Mombasa, its northern neighbor, for a while through an eventual alliance with foreign invaders, the Portuguese. Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese sailor, first visited Tongoni in April 1498. He had the opportunity to eat the local oranges, which he said were better than those
available in Portugal. He made a second visit the following year and spent fifteen days in Tongoni.

Tourism Activities

The area is suitable for excursions to learn about the cultures and traditions of the Shirazi people and other coastal tribes. Other activities include walking within the mangrove and big baobab trees and swimming.
Other tourist attractions found near Tongoni Ruins are Amani Nature Forest Reserve, Mkwaja and Ushongo Beaches, Amboni Caves, Sadaan National Park, and Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park.


The area can be accessed by road from Tanga City through the Tanga-Pangani road, about 21km.