Thimlich Ohinga archaeological site

Situated north-west of the town of Migori, in the Lake Victoria region, this dry-stone walled settlement was probably built in the 16th century CE. The Ohinga (i.e. settlement) seems to have served as a fort for communities and livestock, but also defined social entities and relationships linked to lineage. Thimlich Ohinga is the largest and best preserved of these traditional enclosures. It is an exceptional example of the tradition of massive dry-stone walled enclosures, typical of the first pastoral communities in the Lake Victoria Basin, which persisted from the 16th to the mid-20th century.

Outstanding Universal Value

Located 46 km northwest of Migori Town in the Lake Victoria region, Thimlich Ohinga archaeological site is a dry-stone walled settlement, based on a complex organization system of communal occupation, craft industries and livestock that reflects a cultural tradition developed by pastoral communities in the Nyanza region of the Lake Victoria basin that persisted from 16th to mid-20th centuries.

Thimlich Ohinga is the largest and best preserved of these massive dry-stone walled enclosures. The Ohinga appear to have served primarily as security for communities and livestock, but they also defined social units and relationships linked to lineage based systems.

The property comprises four larger Ohingni, all of which have extensions. The main Ohinga is referred to as Kochieng, while the others are Kakuku, Koketch and Koluoch. The dry stone wall enclosures are constructed in a three-phase design with separately built up outer and inner phases, held together by the middle phase. Stones were placed in an interlocking system that enhanced overall stability without use of any mortar or cement. The walls are built of neatly arranged stones of various sizes and without mortar, ranging from 1.5 m to 4.5 m in height, with an average thickness of 1 m.

Thimlich Ohinga is an exceptional testimony of settlement patterns and spatial community relations in the Lake Victoria Basin, which documents the successive occupation by different people from various linguistic origins during an important episode in the migration and settlement of the Lake Victoria Basin between the 16th and 17th centuries. It also gives reference to habitation patterns, livestock cultivation and craft practices prevalent in communal settlements at this time.


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